Technion unveils material to fight genetic diseases

NB30 binds to human ribosomes and disrupts the process of mutations that "mistranslates" proteins.

technion 88 (photo credit: )
technion 88
(photo credit: )
Technion scientists have developed a new material with the potential to treat "hundreds of genetic diseases." The material was created by Prof. Timor Bazov of the chemistry faculty along with Dr. Tamar Ben-Yosef of the Rappaport School of Medicine. The two published their discovery recently in the journal Bioorganic and Medical Chemistry Letters. "In every cell there are ribosomes, which are a kind of 'machine' that translates the genetic information for the protein," Bazov said. "The material we developed, called NB30, binds to human ribosomes, and in a place where there is a mutation that creates a halt in the 'translation' of the protein, it places an amino acid that makes possible the continued 'translation' until the production of an active protein." Bazov has worked for years on a family of antibiotic drugs called aminoglycosides, which work against a broad range of bacteria. As many bacteria have developed resistance to certain types of antibiotics, Bazov is studying the mechanism for this resistance. "One of the problematic ones is Pseudonomas, which is much more resistant than the Klebsiella," which received much publicity recently in the media, he said. "It especially attacks patients with weak immune systems. We have developed antibiotic materials against Pseudonomas," he added. "In 2003, I met Prof. Eitan Kerem of Hadassah-University Medical Center who told me that half of cystic fibrosis patients die from infections caused by the bacterium," Bazov said. "Kerem proved that the antibiotic gentamycin can correct a defective gene in CF patients and help them a lot. The problem is that it has to be given to these patients at very high dosages, but this can hurt patients and even kill them." The Technion team took gentamycin, made a chemical modification and created a new material that showed it too is able to correct a defective gene and is less than one-seventh as toxic as gentamycin. "The new material has the potential to help cure hundreds of genetic diseases," Bazov claimed, "and perhaps even certain types of cancer."