Structural biology is the study of the molecular structure which highlights the dynamics and functions of macromolecules and particularly proteins and nucleic acid. There have been several types of research teams that have devoted their time in structural biology. With the right advancements in cancer studies, structural biology has brought upon a lot of new discoveries of brand new treatments. Scientists are excited about utilizing the concept of structural biology due to the following reasons.
Study of protein to the atomic details
The scientists are exploring the proteins in detail by breaking it down to the individual atom and testing how they interlock with other proteins and drugs. Since proteins are the drivers of all the biological processes, they get hijacked in cancer to spread around the body. Understanding protein in 3D can help in differentiating between a healthy protein and the one affected with cancer. This can give ways to design drugs for controlling that protein.
Use of X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy
X-ray crystallography is a great way of looking at the proteins to understand their functions which can be beneficial for making cancer drugs. It used a crystal which contains millions of copies of protein from our body and slots them all together in an orderly manner. Then the crystal is irradiated to create a map of the positions of the atoms. Electron microscopy is another such method which can create an image of the protein at up to 50,000x magnification.
Mapmaking using such methods
The technologies mentioned above can be used to help in studying cancer-causing proteins. The cell division is a highly regulated process which can get hijacked by cancer to drive its continued growth. With the studies in structural biology, we can create the maps for the proteasome and the anaphase promoters. Using these maps, we can advance our studies on cell divisions as well as the complexes.
State of the art technology
One of the latest technologies in the field of study is the cryo-electron microscopy. It comprises of freezing and imaging samples at -180 degrees. It preserves the finest details of protein shapes. This study is being used for creating new solutions in the field of cancer drug design.Today the image processing has advanced to a level that offers a closer look at the most complex structures.
It will help in new drugs discovery
The structural biologists today are working with drug discoveries and how the drugs interact with proteins. The studies are not much more focuses on targeting hard-to-treat cancer which has not yet been found a cure for. Studying these proteins and their structures will help in creating new drug prototypes which will be used to block signalling pathways for affected cells.