Screening for molecules that alter myosin function

Dr Arianna Fornili and her PhD student at Queen Mary University of London are searching for molecules that alter the function of a protein called myosin. This could lead to the development of potential treatments for nemaline myopathy.

This research is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Julien Ochala’s group at King’s College London.

What are the aims of the project?

This project aims to identify small molecules that change the activity of a muscle protein called myosin. Some of these molecules will be studied further to see if they could be developed as potential drugs for the treatment of nemaline myopathy.

Why is this research important?

Myosin generates the mechanical force that is needed for our muscles to contract. Recent research has shown that faulty myosin is one of the causes of weakness in the muscles of people with nemaline myopathy. Therefore, developing drugs that improve the function of the myosin protein could potentially reduce this muscle weakness.

What will the researchers do?

The researchers will look for molecules that bind to myosin and change its shape, which also changes its function. They will do this by performing a ‘virtual’ drug screen. This will use state-of-the-art computational methods to screen millions of molecules – including commercially available compounds and ones found in nature – to find those that best fit the different shapes of myosin.

The team will then test the most promising of these molecules in the lab, to see how they affect the function of myosin and muscle fibres. They will test to see if the different molecules can promote muscle contraction.

How will the outcomes of this research benefit people with nemaline myopathy?

This research will identify molecules that could be developed as potential drugs for the treatment of muscle weakness in people with nemaline myopathy. Some of these molecules may already be licensed or have been studied for other conditions, which could speed up subsequent research and development.

Grant information

Principal Investigator: Dr Arianna Fornili
Institute: Queen Mary University of London
Condition: Nemaline myopathy
Duration: Four years
Total cost: £107,899
Official title: Rational design of selective modulators of skeletal myosin

For further information

If you would like further details about this research project, please contact the MDUK Research Line on 02078034813 or email research@musculardystrophyuk.org

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