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

Finding Could Revolutionize Drug Discovery

Published: Friday, June 13, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, June 13, 2014
Bookmark and Share
A study by researchers at IRB Barcelona reveals the existence of information highways that connect and correlate distant sites within a single protein.

Proteins are chains of amino acids that, when folded into certain structural patterns and also when unfolded, exert functions within cells. Proteins receive signals that are transmitted from one to the next and that are essential for life. However, within a given protein, are there “highways” along which the signals travel, like a in a relay event? That is to say, how is the information transmitted in a given protein? “This is one of the key questions in biophysics,” says Xavier Salvatella, ICREA Professor at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and head of the Molecular Biophysics Lab.

The most recent study in this field published today in Nature Communications, in collaboration with Modesto Orozco, an expert in biocomputational simulations who also works at IRB Barcelona, shows that the transmission of information over large distances occurs within proteins. This transmission has been observed and demonstrated for all proteins containing beta sheets, one of two structural patterns that folded proteins adopt.

“We are discovering the information transmission pathways inside proteins and this concept, which we have validated for one kind of protein structural motif, allows us to speculate that proteins have many valid surfaces on which a drug can act,” relates Salvatella.

The team of scientists have discovered how the motions of various parts of proteins, although physically far apart, are correlated. “The same thing happens to proteins as happens to the choreography of ballet dancers, where the movements of the participants are interconnected in spite of being physically apart. If the first one lifts an arm, the last one lifts an arm too,” describes the researcher.

A gold mine for drug discovery
Drugs act on a certain site or active domain of a target protein in a given disease. In most infectious diseases and in cancer, one of the problems is that the site where the drug interacts evolves and mutates and the drug is rendered inefficient. The concept, now validated by IRB Barcelona researchers, allows one to think that the site where the drug was headed is equally as valid as any other point along the transmission pathway.

“If this were this case – which is what our data show – we would be able to find many sites within the structure of a protein that would be equally or more efficient at interacting with a drug. Sites that, although lying far from the key or functional site of the protein, would have the same effect,” argues Salvatella.

The scientist goes on to explain that there are already many drugs that act at sites that are not the actives sites but that these drugs have been discovered by serendipity, through massive screenings of molecules and observing that they bound to an unexpected site. “This system is clearly not efficient. We have to be able to organise it and if we manage to do this, then we will have a potent way to discover new drugs,” explains the researcher.

In addition to furthering the conceptual field, Salvatella is working with proteins of biomedical interest. “We already know enough to study in parallel the pathways of proteins of biomedical interest. If we are successful, we will have discovered a gold mine for drug discovery,” affirms the scientist.

The first authors of the article are the postdoctoral fellows Bryn Fenwick, a former member of Xavier Salvatella’s group, currently at the Scripps Research Institute of California, and Laura Orellana, a former member of Modesto Orozco’s group, who is now at the Science for Life Laboratory at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The work has been done within the joint programme in Computational Biology between BSC, CRG and IRB Barcelona.

The article, Correlated motions are a fundamental property of β-sheets, is published in Nature Communications.

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

A New Generation Visual Browser of the Epigenome
The software application provides easily interpretable maps from which to analyse and understand the immense volume of epigenetic and genetic data available.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
European Consortium Seeks Drugs to Prevent Diabetes and Obesity
A new European consortium is searching for new compounds to prevent diabetes and obesity.
Monday, May 18, 2009
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.
Revolutionary Technologies Developed to Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients
Breath test to detect lung cancer brings oxygen directly to the wound.
NIH Supports New Studies to Find Alzheimer’s Biomarkers in Down Syndrome
Initiative will track dementia onset, progress in Down syndrome volunteers.
Dementia Linked to Deficient DNA Repair
Mutant forms of breast cancer factor 1 (BRCA1) are associated with breast and ovarian cancers but according to new findings, in the brain the normal BRCA1 gene product may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Using Drug-Susceptible Parasites to Fight Drug Resistance
Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a model for evaluating a potential new strategy in the fight against drug-resistant diseases.
Boosting Breast Cancer Treatment
To more efficiently treat breast cancer, scientists have been researching molecules that selectively bind to cancer cells and deliver a substance that can kill the tumor cells, for several years.
New Gene Map Reveals Cancer’s Achilles’ Heel
Team of researchers switches off almost 18,000 genes
New Discovery Sheds Light on Disease Risk
Gaps between genes interact to influence the risk of acquiring disease.
How Cells ‘Climb’ to Build Fruit Fly Tracheas
Mipp1 protein helps cells sprout “fingers” for gripping.
Research Finding Could Lead to Targeted Therapies for IBD
Findings published online in Cell Reports.
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