Two recent academic studies have shown advances in computational design that worked in specific instances to create novel peptides or proteins that target protein-protein interactions. The first, a technique published in Science for designing peptides that bind the transmembrane region of membrane-bound proteins, may be more widely reproducible, though it does not generate therapeutic leads directly.

The second, from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a method for modifying proteins so that they will modulate proteins that they wouldn't naturally interact with. Although it could yield protein therapeutics, it may be hard to use for many protein targets.

Designing from scratch

In Science, researchers in the laboratories of Joel Bennet and William DeGrado at the University of Pennsylvania described a platform for the computational design of peptides targeting the transmembrane (TM) regions of membrane-bound proteins.