Spiral-shaped molecules, reinforced by chemical staples, could aid drug discovery
A part of the system that causes cells to self-destruct when they are damaged or unneeded has been harnessed to kill leukemia cells in mice, say scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The discovery could aid in the discovery of new drugs for cancer and other diseases. The researchers plucked a critical "death domain" from a key molecule in the self-destruction mechanism of a cell, stiffened its Slinky-like structure with chemical "staples," and used it as a highly specific weapon to destroy leukemia cells. The findings will be published in the Sept. 3 issue of the journal Science.
"We have demonstrated an approach for getting at potential new drugs by using natural sequences [of amino acids] that have known biological effects," says Stanley J. Korsmeyer, MD, of Dana-Farber, co-senior author of the paper. "In this case we took the critical killer domain out of a pro-death molecule and chemically reinforced it, so we were able to get it into cancer cells and kill them."
Bill Schaller | EurekAlert!
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