Wladimir Labeikovsky, PhD

Lung Diseases of Infants and Children Scholar

Dr. Labeikovsky is using an American Lung Association Senior Research Training Fellowship to understand the details of how a protein that controls the balance of salt in the body called CFTR works, using a protein that shares key features of CFTR, but is much more hardy and stable. “If we can find out this protein’s mechanisms and structure, it will tell us a lot about CFTR,” he says. Dr. Labeikovsky is now trying to trick this look-alike protein into staying in certain of the poses it adopts during its functional cycle. “Once I do that, I will try to crystallize them to get snapshots of the protein in different stages of its work,” he says. “The next step is to start making changes to critical parts of the protein, which will help us fill in the gaps in our knowledge of the detailed mechanism of CFTR.”

“Results of this work may show which parts of the CFTR protein should be targeted by new cystic fibrosis drugs.”
This knowledge will give scientists a better idea of which parts of the protein should be targeted by new cystic fibrosis drugs. It will also help scientists see how current and potential new treatments work. “Because we don’t presently have a good picture of what CFTR looks like, we don’t know exactly where drugs are binding the protein and how they work,” he says.

This information will allow scientists to design more effective treatments.“The American Lung Association grant allowed me to obtain good amounts of the protein, so that we can move into understanding the structure and mechanism of CFTR,” Dr. Labeikovsky says. “Without the grant, we would never have come this far.”