NIH study maps 3D structure of key HIV and cancer molecule
8 October 2010 00:00 in Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has allowed scientists to map the three-dimensional structure of a key molecule involved in HIV and cancer for the first time.
Structural biologists from the Scripps Research Institute utilised a determination method called X-ray crystallography to take snapshots of the protein CXCR4, a receptor which can spur the growth of many types of cancer and HIV infections.
Following a complicated three-year research period, scientists have now been able to use the data to create a 3D image of the molecule, which will be crucial in understanding how it functions under normal and disease conditions.
NIH director Dr Francis Collins said that prior to this discovery, research into CXCR4 was based on guesses of what it may look like.
He explained: "Now that we have its structure, we have a much clearer picture of how this medically important molecule works, opening up entire new areas for drug discovery."
This week also saw Scripps scientists publish new findings into the functions of serotonin, which could aid in the development of mental disorder treatments.
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