JUL 24, 2020 1:13 AM PDT

Profiling Technology Provides Rapid Drug Discovery

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Rapid drug discovery saves lives and new technology is aiming to do just that in the fight against tuberculosis.

Learn more about tuberculosis (TB):

The technology combines machine learning with high throughput imaging to speed discovery of drugs and fight tuberculosis. Generally speaking, drug discovery requires production of hundreds of derivatives to find the one effective compound. With the new technology dubbed ‘MorphEUS’ (Morphological Evaluation and Understanding of drug Stress), it will provide an inexpensive way on how to target the Mycobcterium tuberculosis (M. tb) bacterium.

"We urgently need shorter, more effective TB therapies, and MorphEUS enables us to screen through drug candidates, see how they actually affect the cell, and learn which drugs have unique ways to kill the M. tb," said Bree Aldridge, associate professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Findings were published online in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS) and describes how MorphEUS was applied to 34 currently available antibiotics for TB and was found to correctly categorize them 94 percent of the time.

"We found that conventional morphological profiling approaches didn't work with M. tb, because the bacterium's inherent response to treatment was extremely variable, and changes in morphology were much less obvious than in bacteria like E. coli," said Trever C. Smith II, co-first author on the paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the Aldridge laboratory.

MorphEUS thrives on morphological profiling when combined with enhanced features sets of machine learning. "With MorphEUS, we used the distribution of staining across a large number of bacilli to learn how each drug acts on M. tb," said Aldridge. "Similarly, we looked at staining intensity and the spread of that brightness across thousands of cells to identify more subtle patterns." The technology can also identify which drugs have off-target or side-effects that may be challenging to determine.

"We expect that the success of MorphEUS in profiling drug action in an organism like M. tb with significant inherent heterogeneity and subtle cytological responsiveness will make it useful in other pathogens and cell types," said Aldridge, who is also a core faculty member of Tufts Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance, member of the immunology and molecular microbiology program faculties at Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and an adjunct associate professor at Tufts University's School of Engineering.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
JUL 29, 2020
Health & Medicine
New Study to Put Medical Cannabis to a Proper Test
JUL 29, 2020
New Study to Put Medical Cannabis to a Proper Test
Real world use of medical cannabis is going to be put to the test in a first-of-its-kind study that should add a lo ...
JUL 31, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Researchers Reverse Advanced Alzheimer's in Mice
JUL 31, 2020
Researchers Reverse Advanced Alzheimer's in Mice
Researchers from Macquarie University have found a way to reverse the effects of memory loss in mice with advanced demen ...
AUG 21, 2020
Immunology
Cancer Feels the STING
AUG 21, 2020
Cancer Feels the STING
Researchers have discovered a protein that can amplify immune reactions against tumors. The stimulator of interferon gen ...
AUG 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Fast Tracking Drug Therapies
AUG 12, 2020
Fast Tracking Drug Therapies
Fast-tracking drugs in a safe and effective way can eventually save the lives of many from life-threatening diseases. Ne ...
AUG 29, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MDMA and LSD Combo to Enter Clinical Trials
AUG 29, 2020
MDMA and LSD Combo to Enter Clinical Trials
Scientists from the pharmaceutical company, MindMed, have announced the beginning of Phase 1 clinical trials to test Sch ...
SEP 03, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Combination of Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Effective in Reducing Heart Disease
SEP 03, 2020
Combination of Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Effective in Reducing Heart Disease
A recent European study found that individuals taking a combination of lipid-lowering therapeutics may reduce the risk o ...
Loading Comments...