Scientists have discovered new information about the way that small molecules cause cell signalling, according to a paper to be published online in Nature Chemical Biology. This insight could have major implications in regards to how drugs are developed.
G protein-coupled receptors, or GPCRs, are major drug targets because they bind to molecules that are outside the cell, and this binding causes big changes inside the cell. This means that a potential drug doesn't have to be able to cross the cell membrane to be active, which is simplifies the design of the drug.
Jean-Pierre Vilardaga and colleagues now find that, for some GPCRs that come together in pairs, the signaling by these pairs of receptors is different than signalling by a single receptor. This result will have particular relevance for scientists developing combination drugs, as the mixing of two individual small molecules may not cause the expected biological effect.
Jean-Pierre Vilardaga (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Chemical Biology press release.
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