London: Scientists have gained fresh insights into how a disease-causing enzyme makes changes to proteins and how it can be stopped.
The scientists hope their findings will help them to design drugs that could target the enzyme - known as N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) - and potentially lead to new treatments for cancer and inflammatory conditions.
They have already identified a molecule that blocks NMT's activity, and have identified specific protein substrates where this molecule has a potent impact.
"We now have a much fuller picture of how NMT operates and more importantly, how it can be inhibited than ever before. This is the first time that we have been able to look in molecular detail at how this potential drug target works within an entire living cancer cell," explained lead researcher Ed Tate, professor at Imperial College London, department of chemistry.
The team used living human cancer cells to identify more than 100 proteins that NMT modifies -with almost all these proteins being identified for the very first time in their natural environment.
NMT makes irreversible changes to proteins and is known to be involved in a range of diseases including cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.
The study appeared in the journal Nature Communications.