Custom Targeting Beacons Harness Cellular Executioners to Fight Disease


I'm over at the Canadian Science Writers' Association today, talking about a new way to wipe out undesirable proteins with custom-designed molecules. "Undesirable" can mean many things, from mutated proteins in neurodegenerative diseases to proteins that cause cell death after a stroke or trauma to the brain. This post is a bit different than usual as it talks about my own recently published research. Hat tip to Colin Schultz for his excellent edits to my original draft, which -despite my best efforts- succumbed to the siren call of scientific jargon.

Proteins are the building blocks of life. They make up the structure of our cells and tissues, catalyze life-sustaining biochemical reactions and guard our bodies against attacks from ever-present pathogenic microbes. Proteins are in constant flux: they are made, perform their biological functions and eventually – when they are damaged beyond repair – are sent to the cell’s recycling factories and broken down.

But sometimes, good proteins go bad... (more).

Fan X, Jin WY, Lu J, Wang J, & Wang YT (2014). Rapid and reversible knockdown of endogenous proteins by peptide-directed lysosomal degradation. Nature neuroscience PMID: 24464042