Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Natural products discovery group asks for public's help with citizen science program

Date:
November 7, 2013
Source:
University of Oklahoma
Summary:
A research group has taken an unconventional approach to finding new compounds with therapeutic relevance by launching a crowdsourcing initiative with citizen scientists from around the country. Researchers team with the public to sample soils from all across the United States for the purpose of identifying new microorganisms that produce drug-like compounds.

OU researchers team with the public to sample soils from all across the United States for the purpose of identifying new microorganisms that produce drug-like compounds.
Credit: WavebreakMediaMicro / Fotolia

The University of Oklahoma Natural Products Discovery Group has taken an unconventional approach to finding new compounds with therapeutic relevance by launching a crowdsourcing initiative with citizen scientists from around the country. With this approach, OU researchers team with the public to sample soils from all across the United States for the purpose of identifying new microorganisms that produce drug-like compounds. This effort recently led to the discovery of maximiscin, a unique bioactive compound obtained from a soil sample submitted by an Alaskan citizen, which has shown early promising results by stopping the growth of melanoma cells in vivo.

Related Articles


"The exciting part of this discovery is that a citizen scientist participated in our program and sent us this sample," says Robert H. Cichewicz, associate professor in the OU College of Arts and Sciences and director of the National Products Institute. "We probably would not have discovered this compound without the Citizen Science Program." Cichewicz is collaborating on the project with S.L. Mooberry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; A.N. Miller, University of Illinois; and L. Du, J.B. King and E.R. Powell, OU Natural Products Discovery Group.

"In the next phase of this research, we need to learn more about the molecule to see how it functions and how we can make it better," Cichewicz explains. "We have to take this bioactive compound from a discovery to a lead compound and, fortunately, OU recently invested in expanding these efforts with the establishment of the new Institutes for Natural Products Applications and Research Technologies." This new center, housed in the Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center on the OU Research Campus, is bringing together researchers from several different disciplines to collaborate on drug target discovery from natural sources."

During the last several years, the OU Natural Products Group has collected several thousand fungi from soil samples primarily obtained from three environmentally disparate regions: Alaska (artic/sub-arctic); Hawaii (tropical); and Oklahoma (subtropical/semi-arid). Despite these efforts, the team can only access a relatively slim portion of the available microbial diversity. This group predicts that a significant number of compounds with therapeutic potential await discovery from the untapped majority of the soils' microbial inhabitants. For this reason, the Citizen Science Program is an important part of the discovery process. By teaming with citizen scientists, the public becomes an active participant in the search for new drugs.

"The public is very curious about science and many of the people I have spoken with are eager to join in the search for new bioactive compounds. With the public as part of the team, we are expanding the search for new medicinal agents to include many previously unexplored areas, as well as providing a means for informing people about how new drugs are discovered," Cichewicz notes. "So far, results have been encouraging with samples arriving from as far away as California, Hawaii and Alaska. We are thrilled with the early response we have seen to this program, and we look forward to continuing our efforts with our citizen science partners from across the country."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Oklahoma. "Natural products discovery group asks for public's help with citizen science program." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107094624.htm>.
University of Oklahoma. (2013, November 7). Natural products discovery group asks for public's help with citizen science program. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107094624.htm
University of Oklahoma. "Natural products discovery group asks for public's help with citizen science program." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107094624.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff&apos;s Office discovered two elephants keeping a tractor-trailer that had gotten stuck in some mud upright on a highway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) Buti, a baby orangutan who was left malnourished in a chicken cage before his rescue, takes his first steps after months of painful physical therapy. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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