Doc, What’s Wrong with My Proteins?

Cracked Science

A word you may keep on reading if you are a cancer patient interested in what new anticancer drugs do is “protein”. We’ve all heard of proteins in a nutritional context: we know, for example, that eating meat and legumes will greatly increase our intake of proteins, and that proteins are necessary to build muscles. So why is it then that contemporary anticancer drugs are said to target specific proteins in the body? Take for example the drug gefitinib, also known by the trade name of Iressa. It specifically targets a protein in the human body called the epidermal growth factor receptor or EGFR. How is a drug like gefitinib effective against cancer by zeroing in on a protein that is normally present in the human body?

To understand the way these drugs work, we need to understand what proteins do in the body in the first place. Critical to…

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