Technology.am (Sept. 08, 2009) — Scientists have uncovered the new way to find out how the cells in our bodies communicate with each other.
Cells ‘talk’ to each other through a complex process called ‘signalling’. When these signals go wrong, it can lead to all kinds of diseases, including cancer, diabetes and arthritis etc.
“Cell signalling is a fundamental biological process that is essential for life and when it goes wrong, disease results,” said Professor Martin Humphries, lead researcher on the project.
Scientists have long been able to see how cells send and receive signals at their outer membranes, but much of what happens afterwards has not been fully understood. As a result, many drugs on the market work without scientists knowing precisely how or what consequences they have for cell function.
Researchers at The University of Manchester have developed a technique that will allow scientists to understand how these signals pass from the cell membrane into the cell itself, triggering a complex set of biological processes that have never been fully understood.
“Signals allow cells to ‘taste’ their environment in a similar fashion to how we taste food and drink.
Their findings explain how cells might interpret these various flavours at a molecular level to generate an overall signal or taste. To do this, they have developed a technique that will allow scientists to examine how the receptors on the surface of cells pass information to the hundreds of proteins inside the cell that create the signal. Their findings will also enable scientists to look at all these hundreds of components at the same time.
The research, published in the Science Signaling journal today, will hopefully lead to better drug design and faster drug delivery times.