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New design may lead to custom-tailored drugs with no side effects

In the May issue of the British journal Drug Discovery Today, Sten Ohlson, professor of biotechnology at Kalmar University in Sweden, argues in a debate article how his thoughts and research results surrounding weak or transient interactions between biochemical molecules could revolutionize tomorrow's drugs.

Sten Ohlson has extensive experience of research into so-called transient biomolecular binding. Such binding is short-lived­-the biomolecules touch each other for a brief moment only. Many of the processes in the human body­-in a cell, for instance­-occur with the aid of transient binding.

The discovery and understanding of how important binding can be is now paving the way for an entirely new type of drug that will be both more effective and multicompetent and moreover will be less likely than today's drugs to lead to the development of tolerance in patients.

It is above all in three areas that Professor Sten Ohlson envisions major potential for the new technology: cardiovascular diseases, pain, and neurological disorders.

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Some multicompetent drugs based on transient interaction are already in use today. One of them is regular aspirin, where acetyl salicylic acid transiently binds to many target structures and thereby works both as a pain reliever and an inflammation alleviator.

At present Sten Ohlson is collaborating with drug companies in the search for substances that can prevent blood clots in connection with heart attacks and stroke.

Sten Ohlson's research on the importance of transient molecular bindings in biological systems is revolutionary, but he maintains that its application is predicated upon other researchers' abandoning old, traditional approaches.

"The greatest obstacle at present, I believe, is getting scientists to begin to think transiently. This is an entirely new way of conceptualizing and understanding the fundamental functions of diseases that affect us and how we can cure them," says Sten Ohlson.

Karin Ekebjär | alfa
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