Milestone reached in disease research

Dec. 8, 2010 at 4:41 PM

EVANSTON, Ill., Dec. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've reached a major milestone in ongoing efforts to wipe out some of the world's most lethal diseases.

Scientists at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and Northwestern University have experimentally determined three-dimensional protein structures from a number of bacterial and protozoan pathogens, which could potentially lead to new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to combat deadly infectious diseases, a Northwestern release said Tuesday.

Some of the structures solved by the researchers come from well-known organisms like the H1N1 flu virus and those that cause plague, cholera and rabies, the release said.

"By determining the three-dimensional structure of these proteins, we can identify important pockets or clefts and design small molecules which will disrupt their disease-causing function," Peter Myler of SeatleBioMed and the University of Washington said.

"Each solved structure provides an important piece of new knowledge for scientists about a wide variety of diseases."

The structures solved by the researchers are immediately made available to the international scientific community through a National Institute of Health-supported Protein Data Bank, providing a "blueprint" for development of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, Northwestern said.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending News
Astronomers spot strange ripples emanating from star
8 things you didn't know about baby gorillas
New study details formation of Earth's inner core
Varying walking speeds can help you lose weight
Doctors develop faster diagnostic test for blood infections