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SMU biochemist creates dynamic model of human P-glycoprotein

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Published on May 3, 2012

SMU biologists Pia Vogel and John Wise are using the computational power of SMU's high-performance supercomputer to screen millions of drug compounds in hopes of finding one that will aid in the fight against recurring cancer.

To do that, they deduced what is believed to be the first dynamic model of the human P-glycoprotein, known for its ability to pump out chemotherapy from a cancer cell, allowing the cell to survive.

Using the dynamic model, they have made progress in finding some compounds that "bind" to the protein. This provides hope they can find a compound that will throw a wrench into the cell's ability to pump out cancer-killing chemotherapy by disabling the energy source that powers the pump.

In this model of human drug-resistance protein, the backbone skeletal structure is represented by purple and blue helices, yellow ribbons and turquoise coils. New compounds like that shown in red could make it possible for chemotherapy to work on recurring cancers by binding to the protein. (Video: John Wise)

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