New Method Identifies How Drugs Attack Bad Cells
October 18, 2018
The Times of Israel – Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have discovered a new method for targeting certain proteins, families of proteins and especially protein-to-protein interactions to help prevent a range of diseases, including certain cancers.
In a groundbreaking paper published in the October edition of Nature Communications, Dr. Niv Papo of the BGU Department of Biotechnology Engineering and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev and his research team, including M.S. student Si Naftaly and Ph.D. student Itay Cohen, decided to map out all of these proteins and identify how they reacted with one another and how they reacted to specific drugs. They focused on neurodegenerative and bone diseases.
“Some protein families that sit on the surfaces of cells or that are secreted from cells all look alike, even if they have different functions,” says Dr. Papo. “Some promote cancer, while others could suppress it. The latter may also be essential to normal physiology.
“We want to make sure drugs that are being developed target the bad proteins, and not the good ones. That is very difficult to do. It is difficult to make drugs differentiate between the different targets.”
Using a combination of chemical screening methods, based on specific recognition of various target proteins, and computational sequencing analysis, the researchers managed to label the various proteins and identify what drugs they interacted with, as well as what regions of the proteins best interacted with those drugs.
“The method allows you to identify hot spots and cold spots when developing new drugs to specific targets,” says Dr. Papo. “Our research for the first time has been able to solve the challenge of knowing what drugs will attack which specific targets, distinguishing between desired targets and off-targets.”
This new approach will help design specific drug inhibitors that can discriminate between structurally similar protein targets.