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Life under the laser
Date:8/28/2008

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have developed a unique technology that will allow scientists to look at microscopic activity within the body's chemical messenger system for the very first time, live as it happens.

The cutting edge laser technology has helped to attract 1.3 million from the MRC (Medical Research Council) for a five-year project that will offer a new insight into the tiny world of activity taking place within single cells and could contribute to the design of new drugs to treat human diseases such as asthma and arthritis with fewer side effects.

The team, involving scientists from the University's Schools of Biomedical Science (Professor Steve Hill and Dr Steve Briddon) and Pharmacy (Dr Barrie Kellam), is concentrating on a type of specialised docking site (receptor) on the surface of a cell that recognises and responds to a natural chemical within the body called adenosine.

These A3-adenosine receptors work within the body by binding with proteins to cause a response within cells and are found in very tiny and highly specialised area of a cell membrane called microdomains. Microdomains contain a collection of different molecules that are involved in telling the cell how to respond to drugs or hormones.

It is believed that these receptors play an important role in inflammation within the body and knowing more about how they operate could inform the future development of anti-inflammatory drugs that target just those receptors in the relevant microdomain of the cell, without influencing the same receptors in other areas of the cell. However, scientists have never before been able to look in detail at their activity within these tiny microscopic regions of a living cell.

The Nottingham researchers have solved this problem by creating novel drug molecules which have fluorescent labels attached. Using a cutting edge laser technology called fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, the fluoresce
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Contact: Emma Thorne
emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
01-159-515-793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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