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Tonight we will hear about research from an area of biology known as structural biology. Luiza will talk about the building blocks of viruses - and how we can use our understanding of how viruses are built to try and stop them in their tracks. Daming will then share research on the structures of proteins, and how this informs the development of drugs against particular diseases.
Viral building blocks
Retroviruses (a type of virus) are very resourceful. Their genome, which contains the code for the building blocks needed for making a virus, is very small and only codes for a few building blocks. To make a virus, retroviruses assembly from multiple copies of the single building block. These collect together to form something like a honeycomb. Luiza's research studies what keeps this honeycomb lattice together, and what are its weak points, which could be exploited to stop the virus in its tracks.
Structure-based drug development: searching for the proper key to a lock
Daming Zhou ( Postdoctoral researcher of clinical medicine)
Proteins perform key functions within humans and other organisms and these functions are based on their 3D structure. Daming will talk about technologies used to determine the structures of proteins. Structural information can helps us understand how proteins work, and why diseases like cancer and heart disease occur. Like searching for a proper key to a lock, structure-based drug development can discover effective and safe molecules which fit with particular proteins that are involved in disease.