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Scripps Florida study finds ‘missing evolutionary link’ of widely used natural drug source

Related images(click to enlarge) A well-known family of natural compounds, called “terpenoids,” have a curious evolutionary origin. In particular, one question relevant to future drug discovery has puzzled scientists: exactly how does Nature make these molecules? A study from scientists on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has now filled in a missing piece of the evolutionary puzzle, determining a previously unknown structure of a family of proteins that are key to making these compounds. Terpenoids, mostly produced by plants, are a family of molecules that encompass some of the most well-known and successful drugs derived from natural sources, for example the cancer treatment Taxol®. In total, there are more than 65,000 known terpenoids. Natural compounds, such as terpenoids, are typically made by numerous enzymes that stitch the parts together, like building a model from Lego®. In the new study, the team focused on enzymes known as terpene synthases, which are found …

August 21, 2016 6:38 pm
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