Like most websites The Analytical Scientist uses cookies. In order to deliver a personalized, responsive service and to improve the site, we remember and store information about how you use it. Learn more.
Fields & Applications Mass Spectrometry, Pharma & Biopharma

Target Practice

Identifying the biological targets of small-molecule drugs remains a bottleneck in drug discovery efforts – but is it one we can overcome? A new method that capitalizes on the specific detection of protein-drug complexes by native MS looks favorable.

Miaomiao Liu and colleagues applied their native MS method to investigate known interactions between parthenolide (a natural product of antimalarial drug artemisinin) and thioredoxin (a redox protein present in all living organisms). To their joy, binding of parthenolide to thioredoxin binding was identified in untargeted fashion in two samples: a mixture of five proteins from malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum and a bacterial cell lysate. 

The implications of this finding? The preliminary data indicate that native MS could be used to identify binding targets for any small molecule. If future studies realise this potential, pharmaceutical researchers may be in luck!

Subscribe to The Analytical Scientist Newsletters

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].

  1. M Liu et al., Sci. Rep, 11, 2387 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-81859-4.

About the Author

Matthew Hallam

I've always wanted a job that fosters creativity - even when I worked on the assembly line in a fish factory. Outside work, I satisfy this need by writing questionable fiction. The venture into science writing was an unexpected departure from this fiction, but I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to combine my creative side with my scientific mind as Editor of The Analytical Scientist.

Most Popular

Register to The Analytical Scientist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:

  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Analytical Scientist magazine