Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Study Paves way to Design Drugs Aimed at Multiple Protein Targets at Once

Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Last Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Pharmaceutical chemists had suggested that the objective of a drug hitting multiple targets simultaneously is impossible and unlikely to succeed. This study shows how to efficiently and effectively make designer drugs that can do that.

An international research collaboration led by scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the University of Dundee, in the U.K., have developed a way to efficiently and effectively make designer drugs that hit multiple protein targets at once.

This accomplishment, described in the Dec. 13, 2012 issue of the journal Nature, may prove invaluable for developing drugs to treat many common human diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder.

These disorders are called complex diseases because each have a number of genetic and non-genetic influences that determine susceptibility, i.e., whether someone will get the disease or not.

“In terms of the genetics of schizophrenia we know there are likely hundreds of different genes that can influence the risk for disease and, because of that, there’s likely no single gene and no one drug target that will be useful for treating it, like other common complex diseases,” said study co-leader, Brian L. Roth, MD, PhD, Michael J. Hooker Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology in the UNC School of Medicine, professor in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and director of the National Institute of Mental Health Psychoactive Drug Screening Program.

In complex neuropsychiatric conditions, infectious diseases and cancer, Roth points out that for the past 20 years drug design has been selectively aimed at a single molecular target, but because these are complex diseases, the drugs are often ineffective and thus many never reach the market.

Moreover, a drug that acts on a single targeted protein may interact with many other proteins. These undesired interactions frequently cause toxicity and adverse effects.

“And so the realization has been that perhaps one way forward is to make drugs that hit collections of drug targets simultaneously. This paper provides a way to do that,” Roth said.

The new way involves automated drug design by computer that takes advantage of large databases of drug-target interactions. The latter have been made public through Roth’s lab at UNC and through other resources.

Basically, the researchers, also co-led by Andrew L. Hopkins, PhD in the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery, College of Life Sciences, at the University of Dundee, in Scotland, used the power of computational chemistry to design drug compounds that were then synthesized by chemists, tested in experimental assays and validated in mouse models of human disease.

The study team experimentally tested 800 drug-target predictions of the computationally designed compounds; of these, 75 percent were confirmed in test-tube (in vitro) experiments.

Drug to target engagement also was confirmed in animal models of human disease.  In a mouse model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mice missing a particular dopamine receptor engage in recurrent aberrant behaviors similar to what is seen in ADHD: distractibility and novelty seeking. “We created a compound that was predicted to prevent those recurrent behaviors and it worked quite well,” Roth said.

The researchers then tested the compound in another mouse model where a particular enzyme for a brain neuropeptide is missing. Distractibility and novelty seeking also are behavioral features in these animals. And the drug had the same effect in those mice.

The new drug design process includes ensuring that compounds  enter the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier. These, too, were tested successfully in live animals.

According to Roth, pharmaceutical company chemists had suggested that the objective of a drug hitting multiple targets simultaneously is impossible and unlikely to succeed. “Here we show how to efficiently and effectively make designer drugs that can do that.”

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
Cell's Waste Disposal System Regulates Body Clock Proteins
New way to identify interacting proteins could identify potential drug targets.
Compound Doubles Up On Cancer Detection
Researchers have found that tagging a pair of markers found almost exclusively on a common brain cancer yields a cancer signal that is both more obvious and more specific to cancer.
Promising Drug Candidate to Treat Chronic Itch
In a new study, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) describe a class of compounds with the potential to stop chronic itch without the adverse side effects normally associated with medicating the condition.
Are Changes to Current Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines Required?
Editorial suggests more research is needed to pinpoint age to end aggressive screening.
Assessing Cancer Patient Survival and Drug Sensitivity
RNA editing events another way to investigate biomarkers and therapy targets.
New Molecular Marker for Killer Cells
Cell marker enables prognosis about the course of infections.
Potential Target for Treatment of Autism
Grant of $2.4 million will support further research.
Sniffing Out Cancer
Scientists have been exploring new ways to “smell” signs of cancer by analyzing what’s in patients’ breath.
Inroads Against Leukaemia
Potential for halting disease in molecule isolated from sea sponges.
Molecular ‘Kiss Of Death’ Flags Pathogens For Destruction
Researchers have discovered that our bodies mark pathogen-containing vacuoles for destruction by using a molecule called ubiquitin, commonly known as the "kiss of death."

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos