The process of crystallization is central to drug development, petrochemical processing and other industrial actions, but scientists say they still are learning about the complex interactions involved in the building and dissolution of crystals.
Researchers from the University of Houston and the Université libre de Bruxelles reported in the journal Nature that they have for the first time demonstrated at the molecular level what happens when two compounds known to inhibit crystal growth - in this case, antimalarial drugs - were combined. The results were unexpected.
You would expect using two drugs that attacked crystallization in two different ways would be synergistic, or at the very least additive. Instead, we found that they can work against each other." Jeffrey Rimer, Abraham E. Dukler Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UH and a co-author of the paper
Working against each other, known as antagonistic cooperation, meant that the drugs were actually less effective in tandem than individually. Peter Vekilov, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry at UH and another co-author, said the work will allow the design of more effective treatments for malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that killed 435,000 people in 2017, most of them children in Africa.
But more broadly, it suggests a new way to screen molecules for their potential in drug development, allowing new treatments to be developed more quickly.
"When you are using modifiers, a small change in the molecule's structure can dramatically alter its performance," Rimer said. Related Stories
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