The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation and Technology made a surprising discovery in their collection of bacterial strains. They found two new enzymes in a study led by chemist Ben Shen, Ph.D. These enzymes have unique properties that could help in fighting diseases like cancer. This discovery could make it easier to study and manufacture complex natural chemicals and create new medicines.
The bacterial chemicals have contributed to the history of drug discovery. Nearly half of the FDA-approved antibiotics and anticancer drugs are natural products or were inspired by them. The enzymes discovered, called “cofactorless oxygenases,” can pull oxygen from the air and create new compounds without requiring typical metals or cofactors. These enzymes could help bacteria survive infections and invaders.
The enzymes solve the mystery of how tiancimycin A, a potential antibiotic and anticancer compound, achieves its potency. This compound is being developed as part of a cancer-targeting antibody therapy. Additionally, the discovery of the enzymes has sparked new excitement for further investigation into their unique chemistry and potential uses.
The discovery of the new enzymes from the bacterial strains collection has opened up new possibilities for drug development and addressing many problems faced by humanity. This underscores the importance of understanding nature’s chemistry and biology for creating medicines.
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