Dr Julianna Olah, an EU Marie Curie Fellow in Bristol has worked with Professor Jeremy Harvey and Professor Adrian Mulholland of Bristol's School of Chemistry, to analyze a group of enzymes called cytochromes P450, which help remove drug molecules from the human body.
The cytochromes P450 are a 'tidying up' type of enzymes developed to combat external compounds that are not fragmented as per normal metabolism. The enzymes, located in the liver, add oxygen to the drug molecules to remove them. But this could create a few toxic oxygenated variants. The researchers have endeavored to explain how certain enzymes react within the body by molding the reaction mechanism for communication between dextromethorphan, a unit of cough syrups, and a P450 variant.
Tests revealed that the outcome of the oxygen transfer procedure is impacted by three factors, namely the manner, in which the molecule docks into the enzyme, the inherent ability of each component of molecule to absorb oxygen, and how compatible each oxygen-delivery process is with the enzyme shape where the response takes place.
This discovery can enable chemists develop drug molecules with new insights on how they will fragment within the body and how they will react to oxygen.