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New software helps know more about SARS

Using a new bioinformatics software, Indian scientists claim to have assigned functions to 6 proteins of the virus, that may prove crucial.

india Updated: May 05, 2003 13:35 IST

Indian scientists claim to have assigned functions to six proteins of the SARS virus, that may prove to be important in efforts to curtail the infection, using a new bioinformatics software, which was launched here on Saturday.

"The new software, PLHost (Peptide Library based Homology Search Tool), is an Indian product which will contribute towards knowing functions of genes, thus speeding the process of drug development," CSIR Director RA Mashelkar said launching it.

The software has been used to designate function to a human gene and identify antibacterial targets which are not present in humans, Dr Samir K Brahamachari, Director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, that has developed the software said.

Such antibacterial targets are important in drug development against bacteria, he said.

"It has also been used to assign functions to six SARS virus proteins by us," Brahamachari said.

SARS virus genome, unveiled few days back, was used to carry out the job, he said adding of the six, three proteins have a role in viral replication and the other three have some biochemical functions.

"With this knowledge of the proteins with replicating functions, one can move towards targetting the virus," he said. The paper related to this is being sent to a scientific journal.

It allows comparison of a large number of proteins from various organisms based on "identity" rather than "similarity", he said.

Manchester University has shown some interest in the new software and further talks are on, he said.

Initially, the programme which is available along with a database of 63 organisms' genomes, is available for Rs 20,000 to benefit the country's scientific laboratories and universities. The price of any other similar product in the market is at least 6,000 dollars. For industry, it would be sold at about 6,000 to 8,000 dollars.

First Published: May 05, 2003 00:00 IST