New Method of Medicine?

Dr. Jeffrey Y H Chung G Protein

The activation cycle of a G-protein (purple) by a G-protein-coupled receptor (light blue) receiving a ligand (red)

Roughly 40% of medicines used today work through so-called “G protein-coupled receptors”, which react to changes in the cell environment, for instance, to increased amounts of chemicals like cannabis, adrenaline or the medications we take and are therefore of paramount importance to the pharmaceutical industry.  These receptors have a key role in recognizing and binding different substances.  However, a new nanotechnology method could help and improve the development of new medicine and reduce costs.  This method has been described in a publication at the esteemed scientific journal “Nature Methods”.

This new method will dramatically reduce the use of precious membrane protein samples.  Medicinal substances are traditionally tested by using small drops of a sample containing the protein that the medicine then binds to.  However, if you look closely enough, each drop is composed of thousands of billions of small nano-containers containing isolated proteins.  It has been assumed until now that all of these nano-containers are identical.  However, it turns out that this is not actually the case, which is why researchers can use a billion times smaller samples for testing drug candidates.  The researchers have discovered that each one of the countless nano-containers is unique.  This new method would allow scientists to collect information about each individual nano-container, which can then be used to construct high-throughput screens where you can do such things as test how medicinal drugs bind G protein-coupled receptors.