Smart materials boost research into new drugs

Surrey scientists have overcome a major barrier to research into new medicines.

Drugs are normally developed when experts identify proteins involved in a disease before designing a molecule that stimulates or blocks the protein’s function.

Scientists need to know the protein’s structure before doing this, but getting it to come out of solution and form a crystal is a major obstacle.

Working with colleagues from Imperial College, Surrey researchers developed Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) which remember the shape of target molecules and act as nucleants – substances that bind protein molecules – for targeting a specific protein.

Dr Subrayal M Reddy, Senior Lecturer in Applied Analytical Chemistry, said: “To date surfaces used for protein crystallization have been random at best with no rational design. For the first time, we have introduced specific protein architecture in the form of our smart materials – MIPs.

"This is an enabling technology which will facilitate genomic and proteomic research and the discovery of new drugs."

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