For pedestrian safety, speed bumps remind drivers to slow down on busy streets. A synthetic protein may assume a similar role, but in altering the speed of cell communication in immune responses that can prove dangerous to a host.
A team of international researchers developed a two-dimensional protein “patch,” which looks similar to mesh honeycomb. They envision this design could be used in therapies, such as for type 1 diabetes, that place the structure around cells to alter the flow and function of immune responses. The design may also lead to new ways to treat sepsis or COVID-19. The synthetic protein can be designed to alter different types of cell signaling and communication, which the researchers note “opens many areas for investigation.”
The research appears in Nature and was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Cancer Institute.