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OU natural products discovery group asks for public's help with citizen science program
Date:11/7/2013

The University of Oklahoma Natural Products Discovery Group has taken an unconventional approach to finding new compounds with therapeutic relevance by launching a crowdsourcing initiative with citizen scientists from around the country. With this approach, OU researchers team with the public to sample soils from all across the United States for the purpose of identifying new microorganisms that produce drug-like compounds. This effort recently led to the discovery of maximiscin, a unique bioactive compound obtained from a soil sample submitted by an Alaskan citizen, which has shown early promising results by stopping the growth of melanoma cells in vivo.

"The exciting part of this discovery is that a citizen scientist participated in our program and sent us this sample," says Robert H. Cichewicz, associate professor in the OU College of Arts and Sciences and director of the National Products Institute. "We probably would not have discovered this compound without the Citizen Science Program." Cichewicz is collaborating on the project with S.L. Mooberry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; A.N. Miller, University of Illinois; and L. Du, J.B. King and E.R. Powell, OU Natural Products Discovery Group.

"In the next phase of this research, we need to learn more about the molecule to see how it functions and how we can make it better," Cichewicz explains. "We have to take this bioactive compound from a discovery to a lead compound and, fortunately, OU recently invested in expanding these efforts with the establishment of the new Institutes for Natural Products Applications and Research Technologies." This new center, housed in the Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center on the OU Research Campus, is bringing together researchers from several different disciplines to collaborate on drug target discovery from natural sources."

During the last several years, the OU Natural Products Group has collected several thous
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Contact: Jana Smith
jana.smith@ou.edu
405-325-1322
University of Oklahoma
Source:Eurekalert

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