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Drug Discovery Potential of Natural Microbial Genomes

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Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have developed a new genetic platform that allows efficient production of naturally occurring molecules, and have used it to produce a novel antibiotic compound.

“In my opinion, the new synthetic biology technology we developed—which resulted in the discovery of a new antibiotic from a marine bacterium—is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of our ability to modernize the natural product drug discovery platform,” Moore said.

The ocean, covering 70 percent of the earth’s surface, is a rich source of new microbial diversity for the discovery of new natural products effective as drugs for treating infections, cancer, and other important medical conditions. Most natural antibiotics are complex molecules that are assembled by a special group of enzymes genetically encoded in the microbe’s chromosome.

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