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Protein map may aid drug progress


Australian scientists may have revolutionised the way new drugs are discovered after successfully mapping the anatomy of a membrane protein.

Professor Mathew Vadas, executive director of the Centenary Institute in Sydney where the research took place, said over two thirds of all therapeutic drugs are designed to target membrane proteins, which makes an increased understanding vital to future drug discoveries.

Dr Mika Jormakka and his team said in the international journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology that understanding membrane protein structures will help develop better treatments for killer diseases such as cancer.

Dr Jormakka explains: “The best way to imagine the way we currently discover new drugs is to think of a lock and key. The lock is the membrane protein that causes the body to respond to treatment and the key is the drug.”

“Up until recently we have never known what the lock looked like so we have to build thousands of keys (drugs) until we stumble upon one that fits. By mapping membrane proteins we are creating a map of the locks – this should make it much easier to design a key that fits.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

Centenary Institute

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