A researcher from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas has partnered with a major research institute to help detect new, potential drug compounds for use against highly pathogenic agents and their effects.
According to a recent press release, the Southern Research Institute published on its website news that several of the organization’s researchers, in collaboration with the Galveston National Laboratory, have worked together to jointly develop a semi-automated, high-throughput screening (HTS) system for pathogenic agents. The screening process consists of a propriatary platform used in drug discovery, which is capable of testing 10,000 compounds each day through the use of robotics, data processing, and control software. The organization notes that the new screen system can be used at biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) biocontainment conditions in order to identify active compounds, antibodies, or genes for a starting point of drug design.
Their latest development was published this April in the journal ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies (ADDT). The work is titled “A BSL-4 High-Throughput Screen Identifies Sulfonamide Inhibitors of Nipah Virus,” and was a collaboration between James W Noah, PhD., and Lynn Rasmussen, MS, both researchers at the Southern Research Institute, in collaboration with Bersabeh Tigabu PhD from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.
Dr. Noah said, “We are pleased to have our work, and that of our colleagues at GNL recognized by ADDT. To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which an HTS platform was implemented in a BSL-4 environment,” The technology has already been used with the Nipah Virus, a level 4 pathogen that causes severe respiratory illness and encephalitis in humans. Considering the lack of effective therapeutics and vaccines, the use of a BSL-4 HTS offers an impressive advantage.
Dr. Noah concluded by saying, “Building on our earlier experience, we believe this platform may contribute to the successful identification of compounds with antiviral activity as the first step in the development of therapeutics against these highly pathogenic agents.”