Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Scientists Develop Technique that can Tell if Drugs Have Hit Their Target in the Human Body

Published: Monday, July 22, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The search for new drugs, including those for cancer, is set to speed up thanks to a new research technique invented by scientists at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Named the “Cellular Thermal Shift Assay” (CETSA), scientists can now know for sure if a drug had reached its target protein in the body, which is a critical step in determining the effectiveness of most medicines.

Presently, scientists can only hypothesise if a drug has indeed reached its target protein, leading to expensive and prolonged drug development process. CETSA will help scientists take out much of the usual trial-and-error guesswork from the drug development equation.

This research breakthrough was recently published in Science, one of the world’s top scientific journals.

Most drugs operate by binding to one or more proteins, which ‘blocks’ the proteins’ function. Scientists around the world face two common bottlenecks: how to identify the right proteins to target and how to design drug molecules which are able to efficiently seek out and bind to these proteins.

CETSA’s inventor, Professor Pär Nordlund from NTU’s School of Biological Sciences, said their new method will not only ease the two bottlenecks, but also has important applications in monitoring a patient’s progress, for example, during cancer treatment.

“With CETSA, we can in principle determine which drug and treatment regime is most effective at targeting the proteins in the tumour in cancer patients, and monitor when resistance is developing,” says Prof Nordlund.

How CETSA works

When drugs react with target proteins in a cell, the proteins are able to withstand higher temperature before unfolding and precipitating, that is, turning solid. An example of protein precipitation is when liquid egg white (which is protein) is cooked (turning solid) at high heat.

“By heating protein samples and finding out which proteins are ‘cooked’ and which are left ‘uncooked’ due it being more heat resistant, we are able to know if the drugs had reached their target cells and if it had caused the desired binding to the proteins, blocking its functions,” added Prof Nordlund, who is also a Professor of Biophysics at the Karolinska Institutet, one of Europe's most prestigious medical universities, located in Sweden.

“With CETSA, costly and challenging drug development cycles can potentially be made more efficient, as the method can be used as a stringent control step at many phases of the process. Other methods are available for indirect measurements of drug binding but they are often less accurate, and CETSA will be a valuable tool to complement these technologies,” said the Swedish professor.

This project took Prof Nordlund’s team three years and they are now in the process of developing a prototype device. They are also in talks with pharmaceutical companies who are interested to collaborate in research.

Prof Nordlund is a leading structural biologist instrumental in establishing the laboratory of the Structural Genomics Consortium at Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm), and had received the prestigious Göran Gustafsson prize in chemistry from the Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2001.

He is also a member of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet and the Chemistry Class at the Swedish Academy of Science, as well as a Reviewing Editor at Science Magazine. In addition, he is the co-founder of three biotech companies Evitra Proteoma, Sprint Biosciences and Pelago Bioscience.

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 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ 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.

Related Content

Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Tiny Microbes With Potential To Cleanse Singapore’s Waterways
7-year study reveals Nature’s way of removing organic pollutants in raw water.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Reasons for Malaria’s Drug Resistance
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have discovered exactly how the malaria parasite is developing resistance towards the most important front-line drugs used to treat the disease.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
"Good" Mozzie Virus Might Hold Key to Fighting Human Disease
Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country’s most common pest mosquitoes.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

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
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos