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Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have found a nanobody that holds promise to advance targeted therapies for a number of neurological diseases and cancer.

In a recent study published in Nature Communications, Sahil Gulati, of the Department of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and colleagues identified a nanobody derived from a llama that targets signaling of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of receptors involved with transmitting signals in cells.

The llama-derived nanobody specifically targets a component of G protein known as G beta-gamma–the part that binds and efficiently activates several other signaling proteins. These proteins, once activated, have been linked to several types of cancers, neurological disorders and drug addiction.

The nanobody binds G beta-gamma tightly and prevents it from activating these signaling proteins. While blocking the G beta-gamma signaling, the nanobody has no effect on essential GPCR signaling events that are required for normal cellular function.

A drawback of current therapeutic approaches targeting GPCRs is that small drug molecules are not very selective, and activate additional signals other than the intended target, causing unwanted side effects.

“You would like the drug to bind one GPCR, but it binds non-specifically

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