In a very interesting paper in Nature , Keiser et al discuss methods of predicting molecular targets for new drugs. It is a comprehensive review of drug – target interactions. Drugs are intended to be selective but often bind to several physiological targets which cold explain side effects and efficacy. The authors selected 3665 drugs and compared these against hundreds of targets defining each target by its ligands. A ligand is a molecule or part of a molecule which binds selectively to one or more specific sites in another molecule eg hormone with receptor. Chemical similarities between drugs and ligands predicted thousands of unanticipated associations. These were than tested in experiments and in a smaller series significant new actions were discovered.
What an opportunity there is for nutritionists to make similar studies with nutrients for example the vitamins and trace elements
Keiser et al 2009 Predicting new molecular targets for known drugs. Nature vol 462 pp 175-181
Hopkins 2009 Predicting promiscuity Nature vol 462 pp 167-8
- Martin Eastwood