Researchers from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Delhi have found a novel route to discover new drug targets and potential drugs.
These new drug targets route and potential drugs are mainly for parasites such as Loa loa nematode (roundworm) and Schistosoma mansoni platyhelminths (flatworm) that cause several diseases.
Why these parasites are dangerous?
- Both these parasites are the major cause of health burden, particularly in African countries.
- They have limited treatment options and there is the threat of drug resistance.
- There also little interest in developing drugs for these diseases by pharmaceutical companies as they do not stand to benefit much commercially.
How it was found out?
- Researchers first looked at Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) of the two parasites instead of blindly screening molecules, which is expensive and takes a long time.
- Then they had picked up one of the enzymes that contribute to protein synthesis and validated it as a drugable target.
- The researchers studied the crystal structure of the enzyme with cladosporin, a very potent compound (drug) that targets these parasites.
- It revealed how tightly the compound binds within the active site of the enzyme. Thus, this approach of looking at the conserved region of the parasites is direct, quicker and cheaper.
aaRSs: These are vital enzymes that decode genetic information and enable protein translation. This enzyme family has 20 members and each one of enzymes contributes to protein synthesis. Even if one of 20 enzymes is missing then protein synthesis cannot happen.