What’s In a Name?

We receive many unusual press releases. Here is one that came in recently:


Date: October 22, 2004

The Wade Research Foundation (W.R.F.), a non-profit corporation headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey, USA, has just released a report about the successful testing of new concept whereby a person’s name (or other word that can be constructed using letters of the English alphabet) is used as the basis for designing a bioactive peptide. [Peptides are small proteins, polymers of 21 different types of amino acids, in which the amino acids building blocks are linked together chemically, like beads on a string. A well known example of a peptide is the hormone, insulin.] The name-peptide is then chemically synthesized, and subjected to a variety of tests to determine if it has any biological or other activity. This concept represents an alternative to conventional methods for discovering new bioactive molecules, and is based upon an internationally accepted scientific convention in which the chemical names of the 21 naturally occurring amino acids are abbreviated by using a different letter of the English alphabet for each type of amino acid. The convention is recognized by scientists throughout the world, and can be found in any textbook of biochemistry or molecular biology.

As a test of the name-to-bioactive peptide concept, a peptide was designed to have an amino acid sequence (i.e., the arrangement of amino acids in the polymer, or the arrangement of beads on the string) that corresponded to the letters of the name of the current US Secretary of State, Colin Powell. The resulting peptide, COLINPOWELL, was chemically synthesized and subjected to a battery of tests at New Jersey Medical School (USA), New York University (USA), the National Cancer Institute (USA), and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (the institution whose faculty select the yearly winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine). It gave positive results in 50% of tests including: anticancer activity (inhibition of the proliferation of human breast cancer cells); immune boosting activity (stimulation of chemotaxis of human monocytes and neutrophils); no deleterious effects on plasma coagulation. Studies of the structure of the peptide showed that it resembled portions of naturally occurring proteins. These results indicate that peptide, COLINPOWELL, might have useful biomedical properties, and the W.R.F. is currently attempting to collaborate with other researchers to expand the range of testing on the peptide.

In addition to potential biomedical benefits, the name-to-peptide project has the potential to be useful as a teaching tool for both scientific and nonscientific audiences, and as a bridge between these audiences. The success of the first name-to-peptide project has encouraged the W.R.F. to solicit customers/investors in order to expand the name-to-peptide program. More detailed information, and a copy of the report, may be obtained from the W.R.F. contact listed below.

David Wade, PhD
Wade Research Foundation
70 Rodney Avenue
Somerset, New Jersey 08873
Web: www.wade-research.com

We of course wish them “good luck!”