Ultra-high field NMR device adds to understanding of drug resistance

Memphis, Tennessee, October 1, 2020

Scientist poses in front of a large magnet.

Senior author Charalampos Babis Kalodimos, PhD, St. Jude Structural Biology chair, has been studying ABL kinase with a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to improve target therapies for certain cancers. 

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a leading-edge scientific tool. The device helps researchers visualize protein structures in great detail.

Scientists at St. Jude used the most powerful NMR device in the United States to study a protein called the ABL kinase. This kinase drives some leukemias. The first widely used targeted therapy for cancer disrupts the ABL kinase.

But cancer cells can become resistant to targeted therapies and the drugs stop working. The scientists discovered two ABL kinase structures that occur only briefly but are important for understanding drug resistance. 

“This is the first time such fleeting shapes have been captured for any protein kinase,” said senior author Charalampos Babis Kalodimos, PhD, St. Jude Structural Biology chair. “The ABL kinase has been studied for 20 years, but we now have a new place to start for improving targeted therapy.”

Science published a research article on this work.

Read the News Release

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