IR Sensor Could Measure Drug Efficacy, Aid Drug Discovery

Researchers used an infrared sensor to determine which active agents affect protein structure and how long the effect lasts. Their method could one day be used to develop drugs quickly and with fewer side effects. It provides structural information on target proteins in minutes and can help narrow down the type of structural change.

According to the researcher, the way an active agent affects the structure of its target protein has previously been studied using time-consuming and material-intensive methods that may provide extremely detailed spatial information but do not yield results for weeks or even months.

The IR sensor is built around an IR-permeable crystal. On its surface, the protein is bound. While the surface is rinsed with solutions containing or not containing active agents, IR spectra are recorded through the crystal. The sensor detects changes in the protein’s spectral area, which is structure-sensitive. The active agent will likely alter the protein’s shape if any changes occur.

Many drugs affect cell metabolism by inhibiting the activity of specific proteins. The drug molecule binds to the target protein to accomplish this. Typically, the active agent settles in the functional compartments, or binding pouches, of proteins.

When a target protein undergoes a conformational change, new surface areas and binding pouches in the protein become accessible, and an active agent can be further tailored to match them. This process frequently results in improved selectivity of active agents, which reduces side effects.

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