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

sease. The UGA team hopes its discovery will not only lead to new therapies but also help improve those already in existence.

"This opens a new front on the battle against many diseases, particularly cancer," said Krishnadev Oruganty, a postdoctoral research associate in biochemistry and molecular biology and lead author of a paper detailing the discovery published on Dec. 31 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

Developing entirely new drugs is an extraordinarily lengthy and expensive process, but this new understanding of how protein kinases switch between "on" and "off" states will make it possible for researchers to modify existing drugs to make them perform better without significant investment.

"These are a very important class of proteins for biomedical industries, and the pharmaceutical industry has already invested billions of dollars in drugs that target these proteins," said Kannan, who is part of the UGA Cancer Center and the Institute of Bioinformatics. "This discovery will have a huge impact on how pharmaceutical companies develop drugs, because subtle modifications of these drugs will make it easier to control them, which will boost their effectiveness."

Kannan and the interdisciplinary team of UGA researchers working on the project are already beginning to design drugs that can selectively inhibit the rogue proteins that cause disease, but they caution that more research is needed to perfect their approach.

Nevertheless, they are confident that this discovery will have a profound impact on the pharmaceutical industry, and on the understanding of the elementary components of life.

"Every fundamental signaling pathway in our cells is controlled by these proteins," Kannan said. "Gaining a deeper understanding of how these kinases work will open doors to a myriad of important new discoveries."


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Contact: Natarajan Kannan
kannan@bmb.uga.edu
706-542-7326
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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