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Biotech Medicine

Creating Bacterial "Fight Clubs" To Discover New Drugs 30

Science_afficionado writes: Vanderbilt chemists have shown that creating bacterial 'fight clubs' is an effective way to discover natural biomolecules with the properties required for new drugs. They have demonstrated the method by using it to discover a new class of antibiotic with anti-cancer properties. From the Vanderbilt website: "That is the conclusion of a team of Vanderbilt chemists who have been exploring ways to get bacteria to produce biologically active chemicals which they normally hold in reserve. These compounds are called secondary metabolites. They are designed to protect their bacterial host and attack its enemies, so they often have the right kind of activity to serve as the basis for effective new drugs. In fact, many antibiotics and anticancer compounds in clinical use are either secondary metabolites or their derivatives."
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Creating Bacterial "Fight Clubs" To Discover New Drugs

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  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2015 @03:19AM (#50017103)

    When you find an extra tough, virulent, deadly bacteria, don't let the damn thing get loose!

    • by Evtim ( 1022085 )

      That's right! Instead find the phage that kills it and make a medicine...

      For the life of me I cannot understand why the phage treatment was never developed in the west to complement [and in some cases replace altogether] antibiotics. The only reason I can think off is profit. It will be difficult to patent phage strain that is naturally found in the sewer system of a hospital. Also, phages are cheap and we don't want cheap effective medicine, do we? And thus thousands of people in the so called developed na

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        Actually, I am pretty sure you are right but for the wrong reasons.

        As I recall the existing protocols were basically finding and manufacturing specific phages for each case, which makes for a bit of a labor intensive protocol. There is probably room to profit off that but its going to be in running a clinical lab itself or supply of specialized equipment.

        Its not about cheap, its about where the cost is and what it is on.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm done a little work on phage-based antimicrobials for skin infections.

        There are good reasons why phage therapy is largely impractical for medical treatment. The short explanation is that a given 'phage antibiotic' would be effective against only a single species of bacteria and would have to be reformulated every 5 years or so. Testing the safety and efficacy of each of these formulations is costly both in money and time. Under the current US regulatory system, safety and efficacy testing often costs

    • In other words: they're developing a more effective bioweapons lab.
    • What could go wrong? I am sure the superbacs will be protected behind state-of-the-art walls of Windows and Flash.
  • \_()_/

  • I've been playing a whole bunch of Agar.io lately, and it has occurred to me that all we gotta do is massively increase the size of our white blood cells. We should do the same for our gut buddies.

    That will, apparently, make us more susceptible to green spiky viruses, but they don't move unless they get fed too much so we just need to avoid them altogether.

    Also, if any racial slurs or foreign countries make it onto the leader board, your immune system should terminate it with extreme prejudice. It's just go

  • by methano ( 519830 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2015 @07:58AM (#50017715)
    Back in the 70's and 80's, all the pharmaceutical companies had large groups of scientist that spent all their time growing bacteria and stressing them in a huge variety of ways. They collected bacteria from all over the world and grew them up and hit them with all kinds of stress (radiation, chemicals, other bugs, etc) to get them to make interesting and useful secondary metabolites. That's how a lot of drugs, especially antibiotics, were discovered. And if there was some problem with the drugs, the chemists made similar drugs or modifications to those drugs to make them better (like Lipitor). In the 90's there was a fad in the industry to fire all those scientists and replace them with I don't know what. Savings, I think. By the middle of the aughts, they were all gone. I watched it all happen with horror. So if I read the article right, these guys are doing something new and exciting that used to be done routinely 30 years ago. Of course, they're bringing more modern technology to bear on the operation and it's good to see it happening. I just thought the whole process sounded familiar.
    • From Newman Craig J Nat Prod 2012 75 311-335 about 50% of FDA approved drugs (1940-2012) were derived from natural sources. It never totally went away but as you surmise the big Pharmaceutical companies cut back on these efforts when we went through the trend of combinatorial chemistry (which resulted in a decade long gap of FDA approvals with the consequence of sucky economic times for just about everybody).
      What this work demonstrates is that there is a big chemical universe waiting to be found using advan

      • by methano ( 519830 )
        You need to rethink your views on combinatorial chemistry (CC). Anybody who has run the same reaction over and over again to make analogs found the concept of CC attractive. In fact, there was a substantial amount of good work done to make it possible to do good science using combinatorial chemistry or parallel synthesis or DOS as Schreiber tried to call it. Very little of that work made it to the literature or the market. And very little of it was in place until the late nineties or the aughts. The problem
  • Why are they talking about it?
  • I look around and see a lot of news coverage of this story.

    Which means a lot of you have been breaking the first two rules of bacteria club!

  • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2015 @01:42PM (#50019959) Journal

    ...I can see that a lot of people are breaking the first rule of Bacterial Fight Club!

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