Search for cancer therapies could be transformed by innovative technique

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Researchers based at the University of Illinois have now developed a technique to pinpoint novel, medically relevant products produced created by bacteria. Many companies have steered away from natural product discovery due to the difficulties developing new products, but using their new technique, the investigators quickly has success developing a novel product derived from soil bacteria. Soil bacteria has been historically a good source, as it produces antibiotics to repel competitors.

The investigators used genomics to screen the soil bacteria in their search for novel antibiotic products. As the screening takes place, compounds of interest are tagged for review. The tags add mass, allowing the researchers to detect the compounds via mass spectrometry. (The most popular method typically used to identify novel products is bioassay-guided isolation, which has the tendency to produce similar results on repeated trials by "rediscovering" the most active or abundant compounds to the exclusion of the rarer compounds, which go unnoticed.) The sensitivity of mass spectrometry allows for novel products present at lower abundance.

Research results was reported in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

Search for new cancer therapies could be transformed by innovative technique
Search for new cancer therapies could be transformed by innovative technique

In a study reported in ACS Chemical Biology, University of Illinois researchers developed a new technique to quickly uncover novel, medically relevant products produced by bacteria.

Past techniques involved screening more than 10,000 samples to find a novel product, said principal investigator Doug Mitchell, assistant professor of chemistry and Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) member.

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