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Molecular templates

 
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E-boy



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:17 pm    Post subject: Molecular templates Reply with quote

Scientists are now able to use plastics to make templates for given molecules. So far they have been used to create extremely efficient and selective filters (for drug purification), but can also be used to create molecules that mimic ones that work in the body. In short they make a mold of a working protien and then fill the mold with various likely chemicals until they get a group that settles in, in a stable fashion. Due to the properties of these molds (they make impressions of charges as well as shape), the new molecule will work identically to the one the mold was based on.

This holds loads of promise for testing out new drug ideas more rapidly, but there's more. They can use living products as molds as well. They can use a receptor as a mold and create a drug that blocks it extremely selectively.

This sort of activity acting on a single molecule level could lead to such specificity that individual reactions in, say a viral infection, could be interfered with while not having any undesirable effects.

The bad news is, there's lots of testing to be done, and the leg work in identifying such specific reactions still needs to be done.

Still cool shit if you ask me.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So this could, in theory, be used to quickly and easily synthesize lots of stuff that we currently can't?
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

replicators ahoy!
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Major Tom wrote:
replicators ahoy!

*creates a Veal template so we can have all the deliciousness without the cruelty*
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i want some of them blue foodcubes...and saurian brandy
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Michael



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

but if it's so specific how will you counter things that mutate rapidly? and how do they test for the stability? Is there a chance that the stuff you ends up with might have an even more stable but undersirable form that it can lapse into?

I don't get it at all Sad
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E-boy



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=1&articleID=000B44FF-A5E8-150E-A26183414B7F0000

Here's the link to the online excerpt in this month's scientific american. It's not a nano assembler per say so no "replicator" worries here.

However, it can make a dandy filter for toxins, a detector for explosives, or even behave as an artificial enzyme.

Also, one of the reasons it really fascinates me is that there has been a great deal of research into AIDS that has involved RNA interference (work that they are cautiously optimistic about). This work targets RNA activity the virus uses in cells as part of it's reproduction. With the addition of research into what specific RNA pathways are being hijacked something like one of these templates might well be able to shut it down completely. Of course, no one yet knows what that would do to the patient. One hopeful drug worked quite well in eradicating virus (both HEP C and HIV), but it had the unfortunate side action of very effectively erradicating mitochondria in the patient's cells killing them slowly and horribly.

Even if this particular bit of bio-chemical wizardry doesn't pan out for AIDS research it has already proved it's potential in a multitude of other ways.

The biggest single reason I find this research compelling is because it's EXTREMELY versatile in it's impact.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

three words: artificial insulin production.
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E-boy



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually in the article one of the suggest uses for this technology is as a filter to remove toxins from the blood. A sort of wearable external device with a removable cartridge to cut down on the necessity for dialysis.

Although there are already devices in use that are implantable and use special materials that allow nutrients in, and insulin out. These materials are encasing pacreatic islet cells, and have been demonstrated to eliminate the need for insulin either orally or through injection. Not sure if they've gone to human trials with them or not but I seem to remember they had.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's also a peptide in Gila monster venom that mimicks the hormones that regulate insulin production in the pancreas.
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that's always a hit at parties
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AfyonBlade



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They've figured out how to take only the parts of the viral DNA that dictate how the virus enters the cell, then put those on a dummy RNA strain so that the body figures out how to stop the virus from getting into the cell, instead of trying to stop the cell's external effects. They've done this successfully with the Avian Flu, and they're working on HIV and AIDs.
Because of this, they can really quickly produce 'vaccines.'
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E-boy



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's RNAi or RNA interference. I'm not sure if they use molecular templates to make that happen, or it's done differently. However, if they don't use molecular templates they could to make the process even more targeted and effective.

I also mentioned (in another thread?) that they've managed to engineer some E-coli (a harmless strain) to absorb the toxins other bacteria produce that target human tissues. The engineered bacterium mimics human surface protiens and binds with the toxins. Each one can absorb up to five percent of it's weight in poison. Collectively they can eliminate up to 99.9% of toxins present in the digestive tract by nasty bacteria. In mice infected with a nasty strain of cholera (almost 100% fatal in untreated mice) eight of twelve mice treated with these organisms survived. Even mice treated hours after infection recovered.

The main concern using this in humans is that the similarities between human cell surface protiens and those in the engineered bacteria could result in a strong auto-immune response against healthy human cells. This is thought to be unlikely as the engineered organism doesn't provoke an immune response, but care is being taken.

The up side is that such a treatment does not produce resistence in the nasty bacteria as they are not directly affected by the other organism. Eliminating the necessity of anti-biotic use (and the potential development of resistant strains) in a whole group of nasty bugs.
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