Shapeshifting technology for smarter drugs

Scientists have invented computer technology that identifies "smarter drugs" to treat illnesses, according to an announcement from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

Named the Shapeshifting Inspired Discovery (SID), the program decodes protein structures in cells that scientists believe could lead to new treatments, with the ability to rapidly tell how the proteins could be "shapeshifted" by drugs. Shapeshifting involves a subtle, different mechanism than regular drugs--it doesn't completely stop proteins from working.

Drugs that act by shapeshifting more closely mimic natural mechanisms for control.

"The ability of SID to predict the scope for 'shapeshifting' enables us to probe large, complex biological molecules--which have evolved their intricate shapes over hundreds of millions of years--so that we can analyze where and whether they can be targeted to provide treatments," Mark Dufton, Ph.D., of the university's chemistry department, said in the announcement. "When targeting is more selective, and the mechanism is smarter, a new generation of better medicines beckons."

In a related discovery this spring, an international team of researchers created a "Google map" of human metabolism--an important step in understanding the underlying causes of disease. The map, called Recon 2, has been compared to Google's maps for its ability to merge complex details into a single, interactive map, allowing researchers to zoom in to see finely detailed images of individual metabolic reactions, or zoom out to look at patterns and relationships among pathways or different sectors of metabolism.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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