Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

From Rare Bugs To Test Tube Drugs

Date:
January 8, 2009
Source:
University of St Andrews
Summary:
Scientists have created exotic biological compounds in a test tube by uncovering some of Nature's chemical secrets.

Scientists at the University of St Andrews have created exotic biological compounds in a test tube by uncovering some of Nature's chemical secrets.

The development for preparing fluorinated chemicals, an important group of compounds which comprise commercial entities such as Teflon and Prozac, could help the multibillion dollar industry which currently makes the materials by hazardous methods.

The discovery by the researchers in the School of Chemistry demonstrates, for the first time, that fluorinated molecules can be made in the laboratory but under mild biological conditions.

Professor David O'Hagan, who led the team, is excited by the breakthrough. He explained, "Fluorinated chemicals are big in pharmaceutical chemistry, and they also play an important role in medical imaging.

"In a very few organisms, nature has found a way of making these compounds under mild conditions, and we have harnessed that.

"We hope that our biological route can be applied to the synthesis of fluorinated amino acids and sugars and we are now applying the technology to make molecules for medical imaging applications aimed at detecting cancer tumours."

Fluorinated chemicals are important globally in the pharmaceuticals and agrochemical industries as well as in polymers such as Teflon that is used for non-stick pans, clothing and even buildings.

Other well known compounds in this category include the antidepressant Prozac, the anti fungal treatment diflucan and the cancer chemotherapy agent 5- fluorouracil.

However, these materials are made using noxious fluorination chemicals which present the industrial laboratory with considerable safety and toxicology hazards. The method discovered at St Andrews' Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, is a rare environmentally friendly process for making fluorine chemicals, which operates in water with no particular waste or toxicology hazards.

Professor O'Hagan continued, "Now, the St Andrews' team have uncovered the secrets of how this rare soil bacterium (Streptomyces cattleya) can make a fluorinated amino acid we have put this into action.

"It has been a major goal at St Andrews to discover how the bacteria make these unusual fluorinated compounds. Five biological catalysts (enzymes), including the important fluorinating catalyst (fluorinase), were over-produced by genetic engineering and they have been combined in a test tube. The cocktail has resulted in the successful synthesis of a fluorinated amino acid from the mineral source, fluoride."

As the 13th most abundant element, fluorine is very plentiful on the earths crust. However, it is tied up as insoluble fluoride minerals and the available fluoride in sea and surface water is very low. As a consequence nature has hardly developed a biochemistry of fluorine and there are very few naturally occurring fluorinated compounds. Only two bacteria and a handful of highly poisonous plants have been discovered in Africa and other tropical regions which can make toxic organic fluorine compounds.

The team involved St Andrews University Ph.D students Stuart Cross and Ryan McGlinchey, postdoctoral researcher Dr Hai Deng and a colleague from the Queen's University in Belfast, Dr Jack Hamilton.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of St Andrews. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. In vitro reconstituted biotransformation of 4-fluorothreonine from fluoride ion: Application of the fluorinase. Journal Chemistry & Biology, (in press)

Cite This Page:

University of St Andrews. "From Rare Bugs To Test Tube Drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081231131521.htm>.
University of St Andrews. (2009, January 8). From Rare Bugs To Test Tube Drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081231131521.htm
University of St Andrews. "From Rare Bugs To Test Tube Drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081231131521.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins