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Bacteria in small sea life yield new way to make potential cancer drugs

Sea squirts live with diverse bacteria that synthesize many small molecules. By examining the natural chemical and genetic diversity found in sea squirts and their symbionts, Schmidt and his colleagues from around the country identified individual mutations responsible for changing from one compound to another. By mimicking this natural process, the researchers synthesized a completely new compound. This paves the way to the genetic creation of large chemical libraries for testing against human diseases.

"This proves the concept works," Schmidt said. "We can extract bacteria from animals, take DNA from the bacteria, and produce compounds."

Now that they've shown compounds can be synthesized from DNA, the researchers want to figure out how to produce greater quantities of compounds for testing and drug development. E. coli is a good producer of compounds, but yields are not yet practical.
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Source:University of Utah Health Sciences Center


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