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Pharmacists and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals such as medications and vaccines can now use computers to assess the activities, efficacies, pharmacological properties, resistance, and several other characteristics of their products, and even design them without touching any reagent, equipment or animal tissue. Similarly, Medical Doctors can now determine disease progression without wearing gloves and looking into organs or through microscopes, etc. For hospital patients, clinicians' choice of antibiotics, anti-infective, etc for their ailments can also be made using Computer-Aided Drug Resistance Calculator (Patent Application filed in 2014) if eventually it is granted.
In the same manner, other para-medical personnel, environmentalists, scientists, researchers, etc can also evaluate structural and physio-chemical properties of a wide range of their bio-active bio-molecules including chemicals, toxicants (Lead, Zinc, and others), reagents, etc without using the labor-intensive, time and resource consuming clinical laboratory experimentations. These professionals will only engage their computer-aided procedures and sequence information (consensus and mutated sequences) of their bio-active bio-molecules where they are protein/peptide based, or their protein targets or the genes/proteins encoding them.
Preliminary clinical procedures for studies likes these are known to consume resources and time. Thanks to the prevailing rational, computer-assisted, robotics- and information technology-based procedures, which are now gradually taking over the preliminary irrational clinical experimentation-based approaches. This understanding is unveiled in the research article titled "Novel Computerized Approaches to Investigating Pharmacological Activities".
Earlier, it appeared impracticable that these biological behaviors could be read from their sequence information until some Serbian researchers including Veljkovic V (Centre for Multidisciplinary Research, Institute of Nuclear Sciences VINCA, Belgrade), saw proteins not just as pieces of fish, meat or enzyme but signals (numerical sequences) and further analyze them using Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques. The techniques, which include Informational Spectrum Method (ISM) presented protein functions in numerical terms.
The procedure entails converting proteins (amino acids in linear formation or sequences) into signals (numerical sequences) by interchanging the amino acids alphabetic codes with their corresponding numerical values in the Amino Acid Index (Molecular descriptor/biological parameter) such as the Electron Ion Interaction Potential (EIIP). Some of these Molecular descriptors are deposited in the www.genome.jp/aaindex. The signals (numerical sequences) are then processed using Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT), which uncovers the embedded biological functionalities.
Explaining translation of protein functions into numbers, Veljkovic V commented that ISM employs "Molecular descriptors such as EIIP derived from Mendeleyev Periodic Table, meaning that there isn't need, any experimental or theoretical pre-knowledge about proteins (and their biological functions, before they are) subjected to ISM analysis". DSP approaches are the foundation of radar technology, speech detector, image processing, etc and they formed the bedrock of this and other researches.
This claim is supported by countless research outputs from the lead author and other researchers.
The lead author, Norbert Nwankwo has preliminarily buttressed this understanding in a work, which is published as "Can Bio-functionalities be deciphered from Protein Sequence Information using Computational Approaches" at the 29th Annual Symposium of the Protein Society held Barcelona, Spain, July 22-25, 2015. At the International Conference on Retroviruses and Novel Drugs held at Chicago, USA on the 8-9th of June, 2015, he further threw more light on these approaches in a presentation titled "Direct Computerized Translation of Biological Data into Biological information: the Gains of Digital Signal Processing Bioinformatics-based Techniques". He has also shown how "Assessing Vaccine Potency" could computationally be achieved (InnoCentive Award ID: 9933477).
The biomedical device, Computer-Aided Drug Resistance Calculator originated from his PhD Thesis, titled "Signal Processing-based Bioinformatics Methods to Identification and Characterization of Bio-functionalities of Proteins" (available at the www.openthesis.org). The biomedical device was later proposed in a publication termed "A Signal Processing-based Bioinformatics Approach to assessing Drug Resistance: Human Immunodeficiency Virus as a case study". It was further developed and submitted for patent. The lead author has also published a research article titled "HIV Progression to AIDS: Bioinformatics Approaches to Determining the Mechanism of Action" to explain HIV/AIDS progression using same computerized procedures.
Other related researches by the lead author that formed the basis for this understanding include "Digital Signal Processing Techniques: Can They Analyze Vaccines Containing Mixtures of Proteins?". This was presented at the 8th Vaccine and ISV Congress held at Philadelphia, USA on the 26-28 October, 2014. His published articles also include "A Digital Signal Processing-based Bioinformatics Approach to Identifying the Origins of HIV-1 non B subtypes infecting US Army Personnel serving abroad" and "Digital Signal Processing Techniques: Calculating the Biological Functionalities".
The inventors of the techniques engaged in these studies have a number of works, which supported the view. Apart from "Screen for Repurposing Approved and Experimental Drugs for Candidate Inhibitors of EBOLA virus infection", that provide investigators with an online program and a virtual screen for the discovery of interventions for Ebola Virus Disease, Veljkovic V et al also determined the role of Ebola and Endothelium interaction in the development of Eblola as well as the protein residues of the Hepatitis C Virus that are associated with Interferon/Rabavirin efficacy. He has also evaluated the possible procedure by which Influenza vaccine protects us from cardiovascular diseases using computerized procedures. Working with Doliana R, he also in a study titled "Emilins interact with anthrax protective antigen and inhibit toxin action in vitro", demonstrated the protection we get from Emilins when exposed to Anthrax antigens. These are amongst his numerous computer-based findings that are now aiding healthcare professionals.
Another Serbian co-inventor of the procedure engaged, Cosic I (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia), has investigated over 1000 proteins emanating from about 25 groups including Tumor Necrosis Factors (TNF), Protease inhibitors, Heat Shock Proteins (HSP), Oncogenes, etc from which she has developed several drug and vaccine candidates, etc. She has other countless in-silico assessments using this procedure.
In their own contribution, other German researchers (Obermeier M et al) have engaged a different approach to decode biological behavior of HIV strains when treated with CCR5 antagonists using neither reagents or equipments but computers and sequence information. As a result, clinicians can now ascertain if CCR5 antagonist administration is relevant on HIV/AIDS patient harboring a specific HIV strain without any clinical test.
Based on these and other assessments, and those embodied in the article, health professionals may now have a sign of relief from laborious clinical procedures while healthcare delivery systems as well as research procedures are being simplified and revolutionized through computerization of clinical procedures.
The researches carried out by the lead author are privately sponsored. He is currently with the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
1. Godwin Molokwu is with the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Madonna University, Elele, Nigeria.
2. Ngozika Njoku is with the Nova Psychiatric Services, Quincy, USA.