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Engineered proteins for fighting flu

In a feat of computational biology, researchers design novel proteins capable of neutralizing a key influenza protein

Cristina Luiggi
Computational biologists designed and produced two novel proteins that strongly bind to a crucial flu protein that enables the virus to enter cells. The new creations, built with the help of more than 200,000 personal computers around the world, may one day serve as effective antiviral therapies, according to a study published today (May 12) in __Science__.
Model of hemagglutinin stem (gray and
yellow) with design protein bound (green)
Image courtesy of David Baker
"This study is remarkable," said linkurl:John Karanicolas,;http://www.bioinformatics.ku.edu/people/karanicolas a University of Kansas computational biologist who did not contribute to the research. "This is a method which in the long run may absolutely be a useful complement to antibody technology both for diagnostics and therapeutics."To design proteins to interact with a desired target, such as a pathogen's protein, researchers can scan extensive libraries of protein structures in search of a few that roughly complement the target molecule, then...
X-ray structure of one of the design
proteins bound to hemagglutinin
Image courtesy of David Baker
Fleishman, S.J., et al., "Computational design of proteins targeting the conserved stem region of influenza hemagglutinin," Science, 332:816-21, 2011



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