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A team led by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute has developed a powerful new method for detecting functional sites on proteins. The technique may have broad applications in basic research and drug development.

Described in an advance, online publication of Nature on November 17, 2010, the method enables scientists to take a sample of cells, locate the sites on their proteins that have a certain kind of biochemical reactivity, and measure the degree of that reactivity.

“It lets us find functional sites on proteins more efficiently than before, and that’s going to be helpful not only for characterizing unknown proteins, but also for finding new sites of importance on already-characterized proteins,” says the study’s senior investigator, Benjamin F. Cravatt III, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Physiology and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California.

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