Research Highlight

Bifunctional drugs could pose health hazards

doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.158 Published online 26 November 2015

Widely used bifunctional ligands or drugs could be a potential threat for human health as they can bind simultaneously with two proteins triggering toxic conditions inside the human body, researchers working on serum proteins have found1.

Bifunctional drugs can bind with two protein molecules at the same time producing tiny aggregates. Under physiological conditions these aggregates might undergo further aggregation. These protein aggregates are known to be toxic and have been implicated in a variety of disease (called amyloidoses) such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Prion diseases.

Aggregation is known to be initiated by heat, extreme pH conditions, very high ionic strength, surfactants or metal ions. The researchers explored a new avenue to link the association phenomena of serum albumins. They point out that the binding of such bifunctional ligands may also become an important factor in inducing the protein association.

“Spreading awareness to stop or minimize the use of bifunctional drugs and similar molecules in various therapies could most likely minimize the possibility of amyloidosis,” says one of the researchers Mintu Halder from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.


1. Datta, S. et al. Distilbene derivative as a new environment-sensitive bifunctional ligand for the possible induction of serum protein aggregation: A spectroscopic investigation and potential consequences. Langmuir 31, 10781−10790 (2015) doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b02534