As a molecular biologist, Kaori Noridomi gets an up-close view of the targets of her investigations. But when she began studying the molecular structures of a rarely diagnosed autoimmune disorder, myasthenia gravis, she decided to step out of the lab for a better view. Dr. Noridomi said she thought she needed to know more than what she saw under a microscope and decided she should meet patients who have myasthenia gravis. She went so far as to attend a fundraising walk that supported research of the disease. "Patients are just waiting for breakthroughs in research and better treatment," said Noridomi, a researcher in Professor Lin Chen's Molecular and Computational Biology lab at the University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. "They may also, because the disease attacks their immune system, end up with other diseases. I met one patient who had myasthenia gravis and had also dealt with four different types of cancer." Motivated by the patients' stories, Noridomi and a team of scientists, including Professor Chen (photo), developed a 3-D, crystal structure of the disease's molecular interactions to fully view its molecular interactions with a neural receptor that is the regular target of the disease. It is the first, high-resolution visual display of the molecular interactions.
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