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30-Jul-2003 Press Release

Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x616
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

SARS information for antiviral drug design released by Protein Data Bank

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Protein Data Bank (PDB), an
international resource for biomedical research with facilities at 
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has released to the public 
a three-dimensional crystal structure of the SARS virus main protease 
enzyme. Its availability to medical researchers worldwide is crucial 
because this enzyme is considered the primary target for new antiviral 
drugs being developed to combat the virus.

"The PDB was able to process and release this information so quickly 
because of the leading-edge technology it employs," said Rutgers Board 
of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Helen M. 
Berman, director of the Protein Data Bank. "It is critically important 
that these kinds of data are made available quickly to expedite the drug 
discovery process, especially when we are dealing with a potentially 
epidemic disease like SARS. The rapid processing possible by the PDB
is going to become increasingly important as we release structures
with such medically important potential."

The actual structure determination was made by Structural GenomiX, Inc., 
a biotechnology company in San Diego. The company deposited its data 
with the PDB, which were processed rapidly by a team at Rutgers to make 
the data available in the public database.

"Having the three-dimensional structure of the SARS virus protease 
shouldaccelerate the search for effective treatments for SARS," said 
Eddy Arnold, professor, Rutgers' department of chemistry and chemical 
biology. "Structure-based drug design has had an important impact on the 
development of anti-AIDS drugs that are now in use, and the rapid 
progress with characterizing the SARS coronavirus will enable more 
efficient paths to developing drugs for treating SARS. The PDB renders 
an important service to the research community in providing rapid access 
to this crucial information."

The Protein Data Bank is an Internet-accessible international resource 
for three-dimensional information on biological macromolecules. As a 
tool to help unlock the secrets of biological systems in medical and 
pharmaceutical research, the PDB is a critical asset to 21st century 
genomic research and drug design. Research Collaboratory for Structural 
Bioinformatics (RCSB) members Rutgers, the San Diego Supercomputer 
Center at UCSD, and the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology of 
the National Institute of Standards and Technology manage the PDB.