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Decoding the pharmacological goldmine in tick saliva.

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A new study led by Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Professor Shoumo Bhattacharya, has decoded the structure of unique proteins found in tick saliva and created new ones not found in nature, paving the way for a new generation of ‘Swiss-army knife’ anti-inflammatory drugs, with customised extensions to block different inflammatory pathways.  

Previous research by Professor Shoumo Bhattacharya underlines that tick saliva can be a pharmacological gold mine, potentially yielding many new drugs which could treat disorders ranging from cardiovascular diseases and stroke to arthritis. This previous work identified a group of tick saliva proteins called evasins, which bind to and neutralise chemokines, a group of chemicals key to causing inflammation in the body.

Now the researchers have worked out the structural trick that enables tick evasins to block a complex pathway that has multiple routes to the same response. What’s more, they can now manipulate this structure to make new, custom-made proteins based on tick evasins.

Read more (Radcliffe Department of Medicine website)

Also featured in the Oxford Science Blog (University of Oxford website)