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Northwestern exposing most deadly infectious diseases in 3-D
Date:10/31/2007

ok like and see what they need to grow so scientists can use this information to design drugs to knock them out," explained Anderson, a professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry. We might look at a protein that copies a virus' or bacterias genome so it can infect people. If we can find a chemical to stop it from working, it prevents the virus from reproducing and spreading infection.

The proteins in his lab, by the way, are not capable of triggering an infectious disease. "You need the actual virus or bacteria for that," Anderson said.

Eventually Anderson's gallery will be filled with the not-so-pretty genetic portraits of proteins from the plague, cholera, rabies, West Nile virus, viral encephalitis and Ebola, just to name a few. He'll also be looking at newly emerging diseases and drug resistant infections. His team -- which includes researchers at seven other institutions -- will churn out the three dimensional atomic structures of at least 75 disease proteins a year and quickly post their discoveries on a special website for scientists who can immediately use the information to work on new drugs.

This mega-assault on these diseases at such dizzying speed, scientifically speaking, represents a tectonic shift in how researchers are attacking infectious diseases.

Up until now, molecular pharmacologists -- the people who design new medicines -- had to work at a much slower pace because they had access to only one protein image from a disease at a time.

New state-of-the art technology has accelerated the process. "Now we are going through the genome and finding 100 proteins from a bacteria," explained Anderson. "We're looking at all of these and providing the information so scientists can look at more than one at a time."

To obtain these unusual proteins for their "photo op," Anderson first has to grow them into crystals. A few steps from his office is the nursery, where hundreds of tho
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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University  
Source:Eurekalert

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