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Biology may provide just the right chemistry for new drugs

Natural enzymes and microbes suggested as cure for ailing pharmaceutical industry

9:57am, July 20, 2015

DRUG SOURCE  Tapping natural enzymes and engineered microbes may help chemists find and make new drugs, such as a version of this complicated anticancer drug called paclitaxel. 

NORTH BETHESDA, Md. — Chemists are struggling to develop new drugs these days — and biologists may have just the pill for that.

By tapping natural enzymes and tweaking microbes, researchers may find and make new drugs more easily, says biological engineer Vikramaditya Yadav of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Yadav says he has developed a method to make a complicated anticancer drug using plant enzymes and E. coli bacteria, a process he has dubbed “biosynthonics.” He presented his work July 15 at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.

Although microbes and enzymes are sometimes used as tools in drug making, conventional methods rely on painstaking multistep chemical screens and reactions. Yadav’s biology-focused strategy, which he says can speed and simplify drug development, is now turning heads in the field.

“I really think he

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