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University of Missouri Researcher Lands NIGMS Grant

a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) —The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded a $1.2 million grant to researchers at the University of Missouri to continue development of and to improve upon a protein prediction software platform, the University said today.

A group led by Assistant Professor Jianlin Cheng at MU College of Engineering is working on a system called Multicom, which is aimed at supporting scientists studying diseases and developing drugs by enabling them to learn more about pertinent protein structures.

Studying protein structure and folding can generate knowledge about underlying causes of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, Cheng explained in a statement.

“By converting protein sequences into predictable structures, scientists can view how a structure folds and thus predict how drugs will affect the protein,” Cheng said, adding that such information is useful in drug and therapeutics development.

The current gold-standard methods for determining protein structure, X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, can be “time consuming and expensive,” Cheng explained.

This grant would fund efforts to “develop fast and cheap computational technology to accurately predict protein structure from protein sequence,” according to the school.

“A lot of advances have been made since this field was developed. We are able to predict high-accuracy structures for about 50 percent of proteins, but we still have a lot of room for improvement,” Cheng added.

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