Mining drugs from nature
Brian Bachmann, an assistant professor of chemistry at Vanderbilt University, has combined his professional interest in natural products drug production with his hobby of caving to set up the first systematic program to search for novel drugs produced by cave-dwelling microorganisms. Each microbe can produce tens of thousands of molecules, of which one to ten may have drug-like potential. Cave ecosystems are untapped reservoirs of biodiversity in which there is fierce competition for a limited supply of nutrients. Microbes that thrive in these highly competitive environments are good candidates for producing compounds that can be used to fight disease.