Asthma Now Showing in 3-D

Manufactured molecule may lead to improved asthma drugs and treatments

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Asthma attacks are very scary, and sometimes deadly. Scientists know they need a closer look into the mechanism leading to an attack. Now, a structure has been designed at Louisiana State University to do just that.

Scientists have created a graphic model of the molecule that causes the chronic lung inflammation responsible for asthma. This model may help in the design of new and improved asthma drugs.

"Molecule model will improve asthma research."

"This molecule we simulated is responsible for starting the synthesis of compounds referred to as 'signaling molecules,' which cause inflammation" reported Marcia Newcomer, Professor of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University.  

If scientists can look at this molecule in closer detail, it will allow for the development of better asthma medications to stop an asthma attack more effectively.

According to Marcia Newcomer, the 3-D model of 5-LOX will give scientists a closer look at the molecule than they were previously afforded becuase the instability of the molecule previously made it very difficult to examine.

The 3-D model of the molecule Human 5-Lipoxygenase (5-LOX)  developed by Louisiana State University (LSU) graduate student Nathanial Gilbert, Marcia Newcomer, Professor of Biological Sciences, and Associate Professor Sue Bartlett. 

The molecule 5-LOX's job is starting the molecular process that leads to asthma inflammation.

In Depth

  • 5-LOX is unstable. Before scientists could start asthma experiments, the enzyme would self-destruct
  • 5-LOX  has an "Achilles' heel," making it prone to destabilize. After working with another, hardier enzyme, Newcomer and her team targetted the weak area, then bioengineered a replacement.
  • The resulting molecule, with the "Achilles' heel" repaired was  tested to verify  the output was precisely the same as its unaltered counterpart. 
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 19, 2011
Last Updated:
April 23, 2011