Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and their colleagues at Creighton University have deciphered the highly unusual molecular structure of a naturally produced, ocean-based compound that is giving new understanding of the function of mammalian nerve cells.
The findings are reported in the Aug. 27 online version of the journal Chemistry & Biology by principal co-investigators William Gerwick, professor of oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CMBB) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Thomas Murray, professor and chair of pharmacology at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb.
Scripps scientists collected cyanobacteria, tiny photosynthetic sea organisms, in Hoia Bay off Papua New Guinea in 2002 and recently discovered that the bacteria produce a compound with a structure previously unseen in biomedicine.
The compound, which the researchers have dubbed hoiamide A, offers a novel template for drug development.
"We have seen some of hoiamide A's features in other molecules, but separately," said Alban Pereira, a postdoctoral researcher in Scripps' CMBB and a paper coauthor. "We believe this new template may be important because it's showing different mechanisms of actiondifferent ways to interact with neurons, possibly with a good therapeutic effect for such diseases as epilepsy, hypoxia-ischemia and several neurodegenerative disorders."
In pharmacological tests conducted at Creighton University, Hoiamide A was shown to interact with the same important therapeutic target as analgesic, antiarrhythmic, antiepileptic and neuroprotective drugs.
Dan Edwards and Luke Simmons, former members of Gerwick's laboratory, collected a mixture of cyanobacteria species Lyngbya majuscula and Phormidium gracile in May 2002 at five- to 10-met
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University of California - San Diego