Insight into cells could lead to new approach to medicines

Jun 22, 2010

A surprising discovery about the complex make-up of our cells could lead to the development of new types of medicines, a study suggests.

Scientists studying interactions between cell proteins - which enable the in our bodies to function - have shown that proteins communicate not by a series of simple one-to-one communications, but by a of chemical messages.

The findings suggest that medicines would be more effective if they were designed differently. Drugs could have a greater effect on cell function by targeting groups of proteins working together, rather than individual proteins.

Results were obtained by studying , which has many corresponding proteins in human cells. Researchers, including scientists from the University of Edinburgh, used advanced technology to identify hundreds of different proteins, and then used to identify the more important links between them, mapping almost 2000 connections in all.

Scientists expected to find simple links between individual proteins but were surprised to find that proteins were inter-connected in a complex web.

Dr Victor Neduva, of the University of Edinburgh, who took part in the study, said: "Our studies have revealed an intricate network of proteins within cells that is much more complex than we previously thought. This suggests that drugs should be more complex to treat illnesses effectively.

Professor Mike Tyers, who led the study, said: "Medicines could work better if they targeted networks of proteins rather than sole proteins associated with particular illnesses."

The research was published in Science.

Explore further: Factor in naked mole rat's cells enhances protein integrity

Provided by University of Edinburgh

4 /5 (4 votes)

Related Stories

How actin networks are actin'

Jan 02, 2008

Dynamic networks of growing actin filaments are critical for many cellular processes, including cell migration, intracellular transport, and the recovery of proteins from the cell surface. In this week’s issue of the open-access ...

Yale scientists map cell signaling network

Nov 30, 2005

Yale University scientists have mapped, for the first time, the proteins and kinase signaling network that control how cells of higher organisms operate.

Cell removal technique could lead to cheaper drugs

Aug 26, 2008

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have pioneered a simple way to remove dead cells from cell cultures used to make protein-based drugs, which are increasingly prescribed to treat a range of illnesses.

Researchers make cell biology quantitative

Oct 20, 2005

Yale researchers have reported a method to count the absolute number of individual protein molecules inside a living cell, and to measure accurately where they are located, two basic hurdles for studying biology ...

Recommended for you

Hydrogen powers important nitrogen-transforming bacteria

Aug 29, 2014

Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria are key players in the natural nitrogen cycle on Earth and in biological wastewater treatment plants. For decades, these specialist bacteria were thought to depend on nitrite as ...

New tool aids stem cell engineering for medical research

Aug 28, 2014

A Mayo Clinic researcher and his collaborators have developed an online analytic tool that will speed up and enhance the process of re-engineering cells for biomedical investigation. CellNet is a free-use Internet platform ...

User comments : 0