A highly effective poison kills the larvae of the garden chafer when the threadworm Heterorhabditis lays its eggs in it. Until now it was a mystery why the much larger larvae die, while the threadworms survive the poison unharmed. Scientists at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have now succeeded in uncovering the secret. The procedure they developed can also be very useful in the search for new pharmaceutical agents. The renowned journal PNAS reports on their findings.
In their quest for new agents, pharmaceutical researchers test millions of substances all over the world. They like using color-forming reactions to identify new molecules. However, in intensively colored solutions or in the case of mixtures with multiple substances these tests fail. As part of his doctoral thesis, Martin Stein, member of staff at the Chair of Biochemistry at the Technische Universität München, developed a testing reaction based on magnetic resonance data. It helps find a specific pharmaceutical molecule among hundreds of different substances even in the most turbid of bacterial brews.