Fungi ‘junk genes’ could yield new drugs, biopesticides, study shows

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Credit: YourNewsWire

Bio-Protection Research Centre scientists and collaborators have made a discovery that potentially opens the door to new medicines and biological pesticides.

In work that began with a PhD thesis, and continued through postdoctoral work, they have shown that scientists have been missing potential new drugs and biopesticides, dismissing the genes that make them as non-functional variants.

“This is a fundamental discovery,” says Prof Barry Scott, who is based at Massey University. Prof Scott mentored Daniel Berry, the scientist who started investigating the “junk genes” as part of his PhD research in 2012.

Now Dr Berry is the lead author on the paper outlining the discovery, which has just been published in the highly prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related article:  Natural plant enzyme could aid efforts to produce medicine in crops

Dr Berry’s discovery involves a group of “modular enzymes”, which naturally occur in fungi. Modular enzymes are molecular assembly lines that make bioactive substances, which scientists have harnessed to work as medicines, or as natural pesticides or growth enhancers in agriculture and horticulture.

Read full, original article: Discovery may open door to new medicines – BPRC

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