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Researchers hope mines will help develop new drugs

MGN Online

MGN Online

PERRY COUTNY, Ky. (WYMT) Researchers at the University of Kentucky are turning their sights to coal country to find new ways to fight illness.

Director at UK’s Center of Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation Lab Jon Thorson says microbes in the soil have to work harder to survive underground and are more competitive.

“You can make very minor changes to molecules that we already know. And that can lead to very dramatic changes to potency and the way the molecules behave in the body,” Thorson added.

Thorson is working with Jim Hower with UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research who is studying gas emissions from a fire in an abandoned underground mine near Lott’s Creek in Perry County.

“The Lott’s Creek fire was first reported in late 2011. We made a couple visits to do our gas sampling in 2012 and made another visit with Jon to collect samples for the pharmacy study,” Hower added.

In April, the Kentucky Geological Survey drilled a well and took 40 core samples to look at the potential for underground rocks to hold carbon dioxide.

“Really any place around that vent that’s been heated whether its soil or the minerals that have been volatilized out of the gases and condensed out either on a rock surface or tree roots is really a prime target,” Hower said.

In hopes that one day, the life-blood of Eastern Kentucky will have save lives around the world.

Video courtesy of University of Kentucky PR and Marketing.

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