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KU Leuven lab coordinates €9m effort to find new deep-sea drugs
Date:3/11/2013

isolating a novel molecule or compound for drug development. "Based on preliminary experiments we expect an appreciable number of extracts to show neuroactivity in this zebrafish screen. The next step is to identify the active molecule in the extract the classic challenge of natural product discovery," says Crawford.

Molecule isolation is achieved through an iterative process of bioactivity analysis and chromatographic separation. "Neuroactive extracts go on to a secondary, disease-specific screening and then undergo a 'fractionation' process. These fractions are then re-tested for neuroactivity and active fractions are separated down to the molecular level using methods like microfractionation, mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy." Fractionation and molecular-level analysis will be carried out by consortium scientists at the University of Aberdeen and University College Cork, respectively. Professor Marcel Jaspars, head of the Marine Biodiscovery Centre at the University of Aberdeen, is Project Leader of PharmaSea.

Epilepsy

The researchers hope the neuroactive compounds and molecules isolated from the deep-sea samples can be developed into seizure-inhibiting drugs. Esguerra: "At the moment, over 30% of patients with epilepsy do not respond to currently available anti-epileptic drugs. Therefore their seizures remain uncontrolled, leading to high mortality or cognitive and locomotor impairments. Over the last several years, our laboratory has established a number of different zebrafish seizure models. With the help of these models, we are quite hopeful the we will find a number of exciting new drug leads."


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Contact: Camila Esguerra
camila.esguerra@pharm.kuleuven.be
32-163-23439
KU Leuven
Source:Eurekalert  

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