Nano-delivered cell gatekeepers can improve drug performance, study finds

Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco have developed a way to lengthen the amount of time that gatekeeping proteins on the cell membrane remain open and receptive to incoming drugs. And the small particles that get them there may also remain active within the cell, making the treatment more effective.

Many treatments for cancer, heart failure, inflammatory diseases and other afflictions enter the cell through gatekeepers known as G-protein-coupled receptors, or GPCRs. Using small particles known as nanobodies that mimic human antibodies, the scientists were able to track the materials as they entered cells and became active inside.

The small size of the nanobodies allowed them to get into places other large molecules couldn't, not only to enter the cell, but once they were already inside as well. The drug used for the experiment was isoproterenol, which is used to treat a slow heartbeat.

"From the standpoint of drug development, this may open a vast new range of targets, involving the cellular machinery that determines whether or not these key receptor molecules are present on the cell surface," said team leader Mark von Zastrow, who wrote the study published in Nature.

- here's the release

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