Staff Reporter

In the age of info-tech, bio-informatics has a significant role to play

Process of drug development has come a long way

Drugs are designed by using computers

VISAKHAPATNAM: Bioinformatics, an emerging field, is the meeting point of biology, information technology and mathematics. In the present time when information is created at a much faster speed than it can be used and extensive literature is being published each day, bioinformatics has a very significant place, according to senior research associate of Medha Molecules, Kanchanbala.

She was giving an overview on bioinformatics at a seminar on bioinformatics and drug designing conducted by the Department of Biochemistry at L. Bullaya PG College on Saturday. She touched upon the various applications of bioinformatics in molecular medicine, preventive medicine, gene therapy, drug development, alternative energy source studies, biotechnology, forensic medicine, bio-weapon development, evolution studies, agricultural studies and veterinary sciences.

Exciting career

She explained newer concepts like RNA interference and their application in current research and innovation. She also talked about the various career paths like structural biology, database development, genome analysis, software development, proteome analysis and pharmaceutical research and then explained the numerous options and opportunities in the field.

The second presentation at the seminar was by another senior research associate at Medha Molecules, Dilip Chakravarthy, on Computer-aided drug designing (CADD). He described the historical aspect of drug development which has moved from serendipitous discoveries (e.g. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin) to the present times when each drug is developed after an investment of about US $ 800 million and about 15 years of research. He explained how the process of drug discovery has moved from randomness to rational, and science and technology driven.

Drug Designing

He talked about the various techniques that are involved in CADD, namely - structure aided drug designing, combinatorial drug design, pharmacophore design, qualitative structure activity relationship and de novo designs. He cited the various drugs in present times which are developed using computer aided drug designing like Norfloxacin, imatinib, nelfanavir, tipranavir and zanamivir.

The presentation delved into the details of the miracle that CADD can perform by saving years of time spent in research and bringing them closer to the molecular level where the actual reaction can be perceived on the computer screen and properties and activity of thousands of molecules can be tested using discovery studio of accelrys.

The Director of Medha Molecules, Parameshwar Rao, gave the final presentation. He encouraged students to explore newer and developing sciences like bioinformatics and computer aided drug designing.

He urged them get some hands on experience in the science and take up more research in the field for their student project as well as a career.