Molecules that target specific aspects of cancer biology are of great interest due to the improved efficacy and reduced side effects for patients relative to chemotherapy. Scientists have identified many compounds that can selectively kill cancer cells, but it is not yet understood how most of them work. Here, Madhusudhan and coauthors have used chemical probes and mass spectrometry to identify the targets of potential new targeted lung cancer therapies against a protein complex in the mitochondria. This complex currently has no approved targeted therapies against it, making it an exciting prospect for a whole new class of anticancer agents.
A Chinese research group has employed a chemical proteomic strategy to determine the mechanism of action of the anti-inflammatory molecule itaconate. Itaconate non-enzymatically modifies cellular proteins in order to modulate their activity, leading to a reduction in the activation of immune cells, which could pave the way to an autoimmune therapy.