OSU Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dr. Robert Matts




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 Research Tidbits

Historically, natural products or natural product derivatives have been the major source of pharmaceuticals that have been approved for the treatment of diseases. Since ancient times natural product based treatment have been used in the folk medicine. While some folk medicines have been demonstrated to be clearly worthless, or at best cause improvements in a patient’s condition by the placebo effect, investigation into the active principles present in some folk treatments have indeed identified compounds with beneficial pharmaceutical properties. We have recently completed a screen of several natural compound libraries for inhibitors of the molecular chaperone Hsp90, a current drug target for the development of drugs for the treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. We discovered 115 compounds that inhibited the activity of the Hsp90 chaperone machine. Of these compounds, 52 compounds with previously poorly defined or unknown mechanisms of action have been reported in the literature to have anti-proliferative or cytotoxic effects on cancer cells, and/or anti-inflammatory properties. With the huge diversity of plant, fungal and bacterial organisms on the planet, many compounds with beneficial pharmaceutical properties likely remain undiscovered. And with climate change and the destruction of unique environments such as the rain forests, the question now arises as to how many potential new drugs are being lost? We should be good stewards of the environment, because sometimes there is something to all that mumbo-jumbo. And kids, eat your fruits and vegetables. 

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