Cancer treatment often fails because of p-glycoprotein, which pumps chemotherapies out of cancer cells before the drugs can kill them. Nearby healthy cells use the same protein to pump out thousands of toxins, so you can’t just shut it down with a drug.
Crystallography and X-ray diffraction are techniques that reveal the 3-D structural maps of disease-related proteins as a starting point for drug design. Researchers gain insights into an envisioned drug’s ideal shape from a map of its protein target, like making a key from the lock it must fit.

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