University of Cambridge > > Department of Biochemistry, Cambridge Science Festival Talks (2021) > How atomic-level understanding of biology helps us to design more effective drugs

How atomic-level understanding of biology helps us to design more effective drugs

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Proteins are the workhorses of living cells. They cause important chemical reactions, they form structural support for cells and tissues, and they act as messengers between different parts of the body, among many other things. Characterisation of these molecules at atomic-level accuracy has allowed us to understand how these proteins enable life.

X-ray crystallography was used to determine the first ever protein structures by Max Perutz and John Kendrew in Cambridge in the 1950s. Since then over 150,000 structures of proteins have been determined. From this data we have been able to understand how these proteins function and interact with other molecules. With structural information in hand, we can also predict how mutations will affect protein structure or function, helping us to understand the basis of many inherited diseases. The power of analysing protein structures in minute detail has also led to the design of new, often more effective and efficient drugs.

In this talk, Dr Marko Hyvönen from the Department of Biochemistry will describe the process of determining crystal structures of proteins, and will demonstrate how this information can be used in drug discovery to generate novel treatments for human diseases.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.

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Marko Hyvönen is a Reader in Protein Biochemistry at the Department of Biochemistry. His research group is studying proteins and their interactions using various biophysical and structural biology methods. They have a number of drug discovery projects where they use X-ray crystallography in very high-throughput manner to facilitate the development of novel therapeutics.

This talk is part of the Department of Biochemistry, Cambridge Science Festival Talks (2021) series.

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