New grant will fund important battle in war on viruses

shannah

Senior Member
Messages
1,421
Likes
1,724
Unraveling the mysterious XMRV virus



Milestone recently achieved as researchers "solve the structure" of one XMRV protein
Work with the XMRV virus is "potentially explosively important," Sarafianos said. The letters stand for Xenotropic Murine-Leukemia-Virus Related Virus, and it's the third-ever retrovirus that targets humans, he said. The other two are HIV and HTLV, a virus associated with certain types of leukemia and lymphoma.

Currently no clinical test exists to determine if a person carries XMRV, nor do scientists know exactly what the virus does to the body, but "it could be in the blood supply," he said. No links to specific diseases have been positively established yet; however, the virus is subject to intense research by government medical scientists, who are looking into possible relationships between XMRV and prostate cancer and/or chronic fatigue, he said.

Sarafianos' lab is investigatating compounds that could inhibit the XMRV virus from reproducing itself. If XMRV is found to indeed be causing the above diseases or others, scientists will have a jump on developing treatment, he said.

Just recently, Sarafianos' lab "solved the crystal structure" of one of the proteins within the XMRV virus, he said. This particular protein is required for viral replication and could be a good target for potential antiviral therapies, he said.
In this case, "solving the structure" means identifying the protein's three-dimensional detailed shape so accurately that researchers will be able to design a molecule which can bind tightly to that protein and potently block its biological activity, he said.

"It's like a lock and key. If we know what the lock looks like, we can make the key," Sarafianos said. "So information on the structure is important. It guides design for structure-based drugs."

This is the first XMRV protein for which the structure has been solved by any research group, anywhere, he said.

Collaborators on the XMRV research are Donald Burke, Marc Johnson, and Shan-Lu Liu, who are also Bond Life Sciences Center investigators. They all work in the molecular microbiology and immunology department at the University of Missouri.
 
Messages
1,383
Likes
362
Location
UK
In this case, "solving the structure" means identifying the protein's three-dimensional detailed shape so accurately that researchers will be able to design a molecule which can bind tightly to that protein and potently block its biological activity, he said.
This kind of bespoke drug design has been talked about for decades but doing it in practice, and translating that into a safe and effective drug is a different matter; turns out this process is much harder than it sounds.
 

*GG*

senior member
Messages
6,320
Likes
4,984
Location
Concord, NH
This kind of bespoke drug design has been talked about for decades but doing it in practice, and translating that into a safe and effective drug is a different matter; turns out this process is much harder than it sounds.
I believe it, researchers are often ecstatic over new discoveries, (I am a scientist by training, so understand some of this, human nature also), but when they get down to it, it is hard to translate theory/studies into practice!

I recently read on how the Human Genome project was supposed to revolutionize Health Care, but so far not much, if anything, has been usefully done with all the info!!
 

kat0465

Senior Member
Messages
230
Likes
6
Location
Texas
Wow Lily,
Great find! Just when were about to give up on research, it seems like it's moving foreward. slow, but Moving at least!
 

alex3619

Senior Member
Messages
13,798
Likes
37,539
Location
Logan, Queensland, Australia
In this case, "solving the structure" means identifying the protein's three-dimensional detailed shape so accurately that researchers will be able to design a molecule which can bind tightly to that protein and potently block its biological activity, he said.

This kind of bespoke drug design has been talked about for decades but doing it in practice, and translating that into a safe and effective drug is a different matter; turns out this process is much harder than it sounds.
Hi

Crystal structure is not the same as structure in solution. Proteins change shape in solution, so the drug may not work. This is one reason why it is much harder in practice than theory. Think of the target and the drug as a very complex 3D puzzle. To even be a potential drug (and there are many other issues) both parts of the puzzle have to be an almost exact match.

Bye
Alex