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'Shapeshifting' computer program will open up drug discovery for tricky disease targets
Date:8/26/2013

A unique computer technology that opens up the discovery of smarter drugs to treat major illnesses including heart disease has been invented by University of Strathclyde scientists.

The Shapeshifting Inspired Discovery (SID) program decodes the structures of proteins in our cells that scientists suspect may hold the key to new treatments. The program can rapidly analyse the complicated shapes and identify how the proteins might be "shapeshifted" by drugs.

Shapeshifting involves an altogether different and more subtle mechanism than conventional drugs, which stop the proteins working completely. The team behind SID developed entirely at Strathclyde over the last decade, and now being deployed exclusively in collaboration with US firm Serometrix will apply it to drug discovery for a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Dr Mark Dufton, of Strathclyde's Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, said: "Conventional drug discovery is extremely expensive, time consuming and often heavily reliant on 'lottery techniques' to identify useful drugs by chance.

"While this has certainly reaped benefits before, these traditional methods are becoming less fruitful and many new drug candidates found in this way are being abandoned because of toxicity problems and side effects. Drugs that act by shapeshifting work in a much smarter way that is a closer mimic of 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 analyse where and whether they can be targeted to provide treatments. When targeting is more selective, and the mechanism is smarter, a new generation of better medicines beckons.

"There are thousands of different types of protein in the human system that cooperate and regulate each other so that we can function properly. Nature has evolved a beautifully i
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Contact: Lachlan Mackinnon
lachlan.mackinnon@strath.ac.uk
44-014-154-84123
University of Strathclyde
Source:Eurekalert

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