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Kill 2 diseases with 1 study

15th April 2020 - 0 comments

We know the drill: a virus enters an individual cell, replicates and then bursts out to infect many more cells throughout the body – interestingly, this disease mechanism shares a lot of similarities to how cancer spreads. The recent spike in virus-related research due to COVID-19 has led to new findings for managing and treating viral diseases, however, it may also be helping to progress cancer research at the same time.

Viruses often attach themselves to target cells by specifically binding to certain carbohydrate structures, or even presenting carbohydrate structures on their own surfaces. These structures are hard to detect using binding proteins since proteins have a generally low affinity to carbohydrates. However, a research team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have recently created a new class of artificial binding proteins – these proteins have a much higher affinity and specificity for the sugar structures.

Cancer spreads in a similar fashion to viruses and therefore these new findings can lead to the production of “blocking” agents that bind and block carbohydrate structures on both viruses and cancer cells, effectively slowing the spread of disease.

If you want to read the paper detailing how this new class of synthetic binding protein for carbohydrates was made, please click here.

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