Navigation Links
University of Tennessee discoveries could help neutralize chemical weapons
Date:6/16/2014

KNOXVILLEResearchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are a step closer to creating a prophylactic drug that would neutralize the deadly effects of the chemical weapons used in Syria and elsewhere.

Jeremy Smith, UT-ORNL Governor's Chair and an expert in computational biology, is part of the team that is trying to engineer enzymescalled bioscavengersso they work more efficiently against chemical weapons. The work is a joint effort between scientists at UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a French national laboratory in Grenoble. Their study was published recently in the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

Nerve agents, such as sarin, are among the most highly toxic chemical weapons. The study focuses on engineering enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of nerve agents as a prophylactic approach to diminishing their toxic effects.

"Enzymes exist that can potentially chew up nerve agents and render them useless before they've had time to act, but they need to be improved to work faster," Smith said.

The researchers are using neutron scattering and computational sciences to study these nerve agent bioscavengers. Neutron scattering allows the scientists to get a detailed three-dimensional view of the enzymes. Computer simulation then uses this view to understand how the enzymes break down the nerve agents.

"The simulations produced an unexpected result," Smith said. "The enzymes break down sarin in an unusual way. Now we can use that result to engineer them rationally."

The team is seeking funding for research into how the enzymea protein that doesn't exist in the human body but is made in nature by squidcan be modified so it is more efficient in degrading specific nerve agents. There is much work to be done, including introducing key changes, or mutations, that would improve the activity of the enzyme.

"Using an enzyme from a squid as a bioscavenger in humans is problematic because the human body will recognize it as a foreign substance and chop it up," said research team member Jerry Parks, a research staff scientist in ORNL's Biosciences Division. "Other groups have already shown possible ways to get around that problem. Also, there happens to be a similar enzyme in humans that is currently being developed by other groups. Information from our study may benefit them too."

Ultimately, the researchers will have to figure out the best way to administer the enzyme to humans. It probably would be an injection, but it could be an aerosol spray or a patch. Still, the work holds promise to help make the world a safer place.

"We hope that prophylactically administering efficient bioscavengers will make the use of nerve agents much less attractive to belligerents," Smith said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Amy Blakely
ablakely@utk.edu
865-974-5034
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. US housing policies increase carbon output, Georgia State University research finds
2. Mountain ecosystems scientists to convene at University of Nevada, Reno
3. University of Toronto biologists pave the way for improved epilepsy treatments
4. Chapman University partners with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders
5. Global health grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded to the University of Surrey
6. Wayne State University licenses technology to new start-up, Detroit Materials, Inc.
7. Chapman University research article wins Best of 2013 award
8. University of Maryland School of Medicine research finds drugs that may treat MERS virus
9. How octopuses dont tie themselves in knots revealed by Hebrew University scientists
10. Chapman University affiliated physicist publishes on the Aharonov-Bohm effect in Nature
11. University of Chicago chosen as a center for new cancer clinical trials network
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
University of Tennessee discoveries could help neutralize chemical weapons
(Date:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017 RAM ... announced a new breakthrough in biometric authentication based ... quantum mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These new ... semiconductor material created by Ram Group and its ... entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. Ram Group ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... MONICA, Calif. , April 13, 2017 ... New York will feature emerging and evolving ... Summits. Both Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo ... of speaker sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending ... coast,s largest advanced design and manufacturing event will take ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. ... technology company, announces the appointment of independent Directors Mr. ... to its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s corporate governance ... Gino ... we look forward to their guidance and benefiting from their ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 2017 , ... A new study published in Fertility and ... in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer cycles. The multi-center matched cohort study ... comparing the results from the fresh and frozen transfer cohorts, the authors of ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... For the second time in three ... Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to Washington, D.C. Tuesday, October ... US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM education in America by ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life ... for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan ... The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ... Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ... team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: