This page contains some dictionary terms that found throughout this website. Below are quick-links to the definitions in the right-hand column of this page.
A chemical building block of proteins. There are 20 standard amino acids.
Prevents materials from the blood from entering the brain. The blood-brain barrier is semi-permeable, it allows some materials to cross but prevents others from crossing.
Some of its important functions include:
- Protects the brain from foreign substances in the blood that may injure the brain
- Protects the brain from hormones and neurotransmitters in the rest of the body
- Maintains a constant environment for the brain
A group of diseases in which cells grow and spread unrestrained throughout the body.
The substance of heredity. A long, usually double-stranded chain of nucleotides that carries genetic information necessary for all cellular functions, including the building of proteins. DNA is composed of the sugar deoxyribose, phosphate groups, and the bases adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine.
A name that scientists often use instead of 'medicine'.
The process of researching and developing new medicines.
Peptides with a particular structure: one amino acid, Cysteine, binds to other Cysteines, tying knottins into tight knots. It has three disulphide bonds that are set in a specific way (crossed over), so that the protein folds in such a way that it is in a very tight knot and is very stable. Knottins are usually between 22 to 70 amino acids long.
The smallest unit of matter that retains all of the physical and chemical properties of that substance. Any time two or more atoms join together, they make a molecule. Everything around you is made up of molecules, including you. You are actually made up of trillions and trillions of different types of molecules.
Using new technologies, we create variants of the natural knottin peptides by changing parts of its amino acid sequence that aren't essential to the knot structure; these altered knottins are called optimized peptides, or 'Optides'. We create these Optides so that they bind to target proteins and disrupt disease.
A living thing that can function on its own. This includes animals, plants, and fungi for example.
A large molecule composed of a specific sequence of amino acids, determined by the DNA and folded into a specific 3-D shape. Proteins are essential for all life processes.
The way each protein is folded into a specific 3D shape; this shape is a key factor in each protein's function. A misfolded protein can cause disease.
A group of cells that are similar in structure and function. Tissues that work in unison to carry out a specific set of functions form an organ.
In normal tissues, the rates of new cell growth and old cell death are kept in balance. In cancer, this balance is disrupted either by uncontrolled cell growth or loss of an old/damaged cell's ability to undergo a normal self-destruction.