Structural biology gives an unparalleled insight into the molecular details of biological mechanisms, an insight that has the potential to lead to rationally-designed therapies. This is illustrated by some recent studies.
Professor Huntington is studying the details of the delicate control of coagulation by members of the serpin family of serine protease inhibitors; over the past year, new insights have been gained into the control by serpins of factor IXa and thrombin. Dr Zhou is studying members of the serpin family adapted for non-inhibitory roles, with a series of structures of angiotensinogen and its complex with renin revealing a new mechanism by which oxidative stress modulates the control of blood pressure. The determination of such structures is heavily driven by computer methods, an area to which Professor Read’s group is making significant contributions.