July 31, 2003 NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Protein Data Bank (PDB), an international resource for biomedical research with facilities at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has released to the public a three-dimensional crystal structure of the SARS virus main protease enzyme. Its availability to medical researchers worldwide is crucial because this enzyme is considered the primary target for new antiviral drugs being developed to combat the virus.
"The PDB was able to process and release this information so quickly because of the leading-edge technology it employs," said Rutgers Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Helen M. Berman, director of the Protein Data Bank. "It is critically important that these kinds of data are made available quickly to expedite the drug discovery process, especially when we are dealing with a potentially epidemic disease like SARS. The rapid processing possible by the PDB is going to become increasingly important as we release structures with such medically important potential."
The actual structure determination was made by Structural GenomiX, Inc., a biotechnology company in San Diego. The company deposited its data with the PDB, which were processed rapidly by a team at Rutgers to make the data available in the public database.
"Having the three-dimensional structure of the SARS virus protease should accelerate the search for effective treatments for SARS," said Eddy Arnold, professor, Rutgers' department of chemistry and chemical biology. "Structure-based drug design has had an important impact on the development of anti-AIDS drugs that are now in use, and the rapid progress with characterizing the SARS coronavirus will enable more efficient paths to developing drugs for treating SARS. The PDB renders an important service to the research community in providing rapid access to this crucial information."
The Protein Data Bank is an Internet-accessible international resource for three-dimensional information on biological macromolecules. As a tool to help unlock the secrets of biological systems in medical and pharmaceutical research, the PDB is a critical asset to 21st century genomic research and drug design. Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB) members Rutgers, the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD, and the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology of the National Institute of Standards and Technology manage the PDB.
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