New technique expands understanding of bacterial proteins

December 24th, 2008 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 24 (IANS) A team of researchers has devised a computational method that can predict very accurately how bacterial proteins fold and interact.It should also permit development of new antibiotics that target and block newly identified protein interactions vital to the survival of pathogenic bacteria.

In the longer term, as the collective body of genomics data for humans and other animals grows, some version of the new technique may allow similar protein predictive capabilities for higher organisms, spawning a wealth of new and highly effective drug discovery options.

“I think it’s a quantum leap,” said team leader James Hoch, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute, of the work. “This is one thing I really am proud of.”

Ever since genomic data has been available, researchers have been looking for ways to understand protein interactions, but no method has proven even close to sufficient, said a Scripps release.

“It’s really the last frontier in proteins,” said Hoch, “figuring out who they interact with and the structures they make.”

This new capability appears in this week’s early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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