The researcher Manuel Palacín, head of the Heterogenic and Multigenic Diseases lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), in Barcelona, is among the world’s experts in HATs (heteromeric amino acid transporters).
In humans, there are eight HAT molecules. These are associated, for example, with the following: rare diseases called aminoacidurias, such as lysinuric protein intolerance and cystinuria; the development of infections caused by the Kaposi sarcoma virus; various types of cancer; and relapse in cocaine use. HATs are, as the name implies, amino acid transporters, and they exert their action in the cell membrane. Because of their nature, they are extremely difficult to crystallize and consequently no structural data are available for these molecules at the atomic level. However, for rational drug design this information is imperative.
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