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Prion. 2007 Jan-Mar;1(1):48-52. Epub 2007 Jan 20.

Antiprion drugs as chemical tools to uncover mechanisms of prion propagation.

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INSERM U613, CHU de Brest, Faculté de Médecine de l'Université de Bretagne Occidentale, 46 rue Félix Le Dantec, Brest, France.


A number of drugs active against prions either in vitro, in cellular systems or in vivo in animal models have been isolated in various screening assays. In this minireview, we would like to suggest, that in addition to their direct interest as potential therapeutic agents, these molecules could be used as original research tools to understand prion propagation. The use of antiprion compounds as tool to understand fundamentals of prion propagation relies on reverse screening approaches. These global genetic and/or biochemical approaches aim to identify the intracellular target(s) and mechanism of action of the drugs. Once those are known, the biological activity of the compounds can be optimized on a rational basis, their potential side effects understood and minimized. In vitro enzyme-based screening assays can then be designed to allow discovery of new, more potent and selective molecules. Here we describe the main comprehensive biochemical and genetical approaches to realize reverse screening approaches based on antiprion drugs. We will finish by discussing the interest of using drug inactivation of specific targets as a substitute to genetic inactivation.

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