DR. C’S JOURNAL: PROTEIN-BASED MEDICATIONS

Proteins, the very structure of life itself, are currently being understood with increasing precision. This will undoubtedly lead to a new generation of medications useful in treating a wide variety of diseases. Such proteins could be coded by DNA or RNA, and churned out by veritable protein factories, yeasts.

This could drastically lower the cost of such medications, which are more stable than RNA, allowing easier distribution and storage. DNA and RNA advances are currently getting all the press, with CRSPR  advances in manipulating their structure. Indeed, the RNA vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer have been a rapidly deployed life saver with the COVID-19 epidemic. Correction of genetic disease is also possible in rare instances, if only one gene causes the disease.

PROTEINS, the result of DNA and RNA activity, form the basis of a vast array of signaling molecules, offering many possible treatments of disease.

The reason why advances in protein chemistry has been slow, is that protein is a very large molecule that exercises its effects by its three dimensional structure.This is formed by the loops,foldings, twists, and bunchings of its amino acid string. A molecule’s three-dimensional structure is very expensive to determine at the present time,

Encouraging scientists to attempt predicting  the structure by knowing  the  electric charges and other sticky characteristics of different parts of that amino acid string. Recently, artificial intelligence has come to the rescue, and the field is advancing rapidly.

Novel vaccines are being developed, using small protein pieces of the COVID-19 antibody combining site. Pieces of proteins are being designed that can stick to that antibody combining side and prevent it from attaching. Novel signaling blockers, or even agonists,  are looking increasingly possible.

I thought you would like to know about this little island of optimism in the midst of all the gloom. My interest in PROTEINOMICS was fueled by an excellent article in the Scientific American July 2021 issue, by science journalist Rowan Jacobson, who presents the story in a very interesting fashion. I would very much recommend the reading of this article.

–Dr. C

Read Scientific American article

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