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UGA discovery promises to improve drugs used to fight cancer, other diseases
Date:1/11/2013

Athens, Ga. Even when at rest, the human body is a flurry of activity. Like a microscopic metropolis locked in a state of perpetual rush hour traffic, the trillions of cells that make us who we are work feverishly policing the streets, making repairs, building new structures and delivering important cargo throughout the bustling organic society.

For everything to work properly there must be something to organize and direct the various workers. Enter protein kinases. Like specialized traffic signals, this huge class of proteins is critical for many aspects of cell communication, telling them when to begin work and when to stop.

Now, University of Georgia researchers have discovered that a little-studied part of the protein kinases that once appeared non-functional may actually control the most critical functions of the entire molecule. Their research promises to help improve drugs used to fight a variety of life-threatening diseases, from diabetes to cancer.

"The overall goal of this project was to better understand how these proteins function and what mechanisms control their function," said Natarajan Kannan, a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar and assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "Our research shows that these little-studied dark regions of the protein are directly affecting the molecule's function."

Normally functioning protein kinases perform duties central to the everyday cellular operations within our bodies, but when they become dysfunctional, they can play a major role in the development of numerous serious diseases, including Alzheimer's, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many forms of cancer.

Scientists have recognized the value of the proteins as therapeutic targets for decades, and numerous drugs, known as protein kinase inhibitors, are commonly prescribed in an attempt to slow or stop the rogue kinases that cause di
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Contact: Natarajan Kannan
kannan@bmb.uga.edu
706-542-7326
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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