High-Speed Evolution Aids Drug Development

By exploiting the rapid replicating power of viruses, researchers were able to make biological molecules in the laboratory evolve much more rapidly than they can with existing approaches. Their new method, called phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE), could be used to accelerate the development of therapeutic proteins, such as new cancer drugs, or to tackle unsolved questions about how evolution works.

Most traditional pharmaceutical agents are small molecules, but a number of promising new therapies are based on macromolecules, such as proteins. So-called “directed evolution” gives scientists a way to adapt a naturally occurring macromolecule to perform a specific therapeutically useful function, such as bind to a cancer-linked protein.

via High-Speed Evolution Aids Drug Development – Technology Review.

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