Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mason scientists invent new technology to streamline drug discovery

08.10.2019

George Mason University researchers have discovered the exact location where two proteins responsible for hiding cancer cells from the immune system bind. This discovery provides a novel approach to developing new cancer immunotherapy medicines that can be administered as a pill, compared to existing intravenous therapeutics. The findings were published in July 2019 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

According to Amanda Haymond, lead author on the study and researcher in the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine and Institute for Biohealth Innovation, the discovery was made possible by an in-house developed protein-painting technology, funded by the National Cancer Institute's Innovative Molecular Analysis Technology (IMAT) program.


These 3-D models of a receptor, co-receptor, and ligand demonstrate how the protein painting technology works. Bound proteins in their native form are coated with small molecule dyes. The regions which aren't painted when the proteins are bound, designated white, can be detected by mass spectrometry and inform rational drug development.

Photo by Evan Cantwell

"The goal of IMAT is to support the creation of novel technologies that enable scientists to make transformative discoveries in cancer research that were not possible before," Tony Dickherber, director of the IMAT program, said.

The protein painting technology, developed under National Institutes of Health funding, is indeed transformative. The process starts with two or more proteins that when bound together, drive disease. The scientists use small molecule dyes to paint the bound proteins, and then a chemical reaction known as denaturation chops them up. The final step is when scientists use a mass spectrometer to identify the unpainted regions, which is where the proteins touch.

Current technologies in early phase drug discovery, such as crystallography, are often complicated, costly, and time-consuming. The protein painting technology specifically identifies protein-protein touchpoints, highlighting an ideal location and recipe to follow for drug development. The recipe, along with the fact that the technology allows for rapid performance testing of the drug, means that results can be produced in several days, rather than years.

To build on this success, the Mason team needed to push more boundaries. In the new article, the team describes how they enhanced their technology, reporting the development and optimization of a novel protein dye that has been successfully tested on clinically relevant protein complexes, PD-1 and PD-L1. The publication also unveils new findings that chemically decipher the way that dyes interact with proteins, which has been a mystery to scientist for decades.

"The secret to using the protein-painting technique is having the perfect dye molecule with just the right structure to bind tightly onto proteins," Haymond said.

Monet Pharmaceuticals, a newly formed pharmaceutical company based in Prince William County, Virginia, has partnered with the Mason team to exclusively license patents owned by the university broadly covering the protein-painting technology.

"We have many talented faculty at Mason who create groundbreaking technologies, but it takes partnerships to maximize impact. In this case, the impact is accelerating the drug discovery paradigm," Lance Liotta, co-director of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, said.

While the impressive technology has the potential to transform the drug discovery process, it is grounded by humble beginnings.

"It started with a simple idea that we were able to test in the lab. This is a prime example of why we should always ignore the impeding thoughts that someone must have thought of this already, or that an experiment would never work. Some of the simplest ideas can lead to the biggest discoveries," Haymond said.

###

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia's largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 37,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the last half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility. Learn more at http://www.gmu.edu.

About the Institute for Biohealth Innovation

The Institute for Biohealth Innovation (IBI) promotes and supports biohealth-related research activities of faculty, staff, and students at George Mason University. The IBI connects Mason researchers in biohealth with potential collaborators, both within the university and externally, to advance human health research. Learn more and hear more from our researchers in a newly released video at https://ibi.gmu.edu/what-is-the-ibi/.

About Monet Pharmaceuticals

Monet Pharmaceuticals is a newly formed pharmaceutical company based in Prince William County, Virginia that has exclusively licensed patents owned by the university covering the protein-painting technology. Monet is collaborating with George Mason University researchers on high value therapeutic targets utilizing the protein-painting technology. Together, they are discovering and developing novel therapeutics.

Media Contact

John Hollis
jhollis2@gmu.edu
703-993-8781

 @GeorgeMasonNews

http://www.gmu.edu 

John Hollis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.RA118.007310

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New ways to keep proteins healthy outside the cell
09.07.2020 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Protein linked to cancer acts as a viscous glue in cell division
08.07.2020 | Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

New ways to keep proteins healthy outside the cell

09.07.2020 | Life Sciences

TU Graz experimental physicists study steel on board the ISS

09.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Shock-dissipating fractal cubes could forge high-tech armor

08.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>