Study details regulation of a multi-drug transporter

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Vanderbilt University researchers have discovered how a protein pump distinguishes between chemicals that it will expel from a cell and inhibitors that block its action.

The pump, called P-glycoprotein, protects cells by removing potentially harmful chemicals, but it contributes to drug resistance when those chemicals are therapeutic drugs — which poses a particular problem for cancer treatment. The new findings, reported in the journal Science, could guide the development of more efficient inhibitors to prevent cancer cell resistance to chemotherapy.

The studies answered a long-standing question about P-glycoprotein, said Hassane Mchaourab, PhD, Louise B. McGavock Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.