The Protein-Protein Interactions Network (PPI-Net) was a National Network for Protein-Protein Interactions starting April 2011. The Network was jointly funded by Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and the Medical Research Council (MRC) from April 2011 to November 2013.

Why a Network in Protein-Protein interactions?

The development of new medicines relies upon the ability of scientists to understand the biological details of a disease and also the way in which new molecular medicines can be designed to either cure the illness or alleviate its symptoms.  One very important biological mechanism is the way in which one protein recognises and binds to another protein in order to regulate its function.  This functional regulation by protein-protein interactions underpins most of the biological activity in living cells, and yet we do not understand what properties of a protein allow it to bind to another, nor do we understand how to design molecules to prevent or enhance such interactions.

Gaining such an understanding would be a huge advance. It is estimated that there are approximately 650,000 types of specific protein-protein interactions in each human cell.  This means that there are potentially 650,000 targets for modifying biological function by the use of drugs.  Essentially every part of the biological process, and therefore every disease, could in principle be addressed by such drugs.  Although the knowledge of how to do this remains beyond our grasp, progress has been made in some parts of the problem, and new ways of looking at the problem have also been developed with others already in development.

What were the main aims of the Network?

PPI-Net aimed to:

1) Bring the whole UK community engaged in the research of protein-protein interactions together

This enabled scientists to share their current scientific knowledge with each other in order to have a wider picture of what was possible and understood as well as what still needed to be learned and discovered in the research field.

2) Formulate a UK-wide plan to solve the outstanding problems in this research area

This will help to accelerate the development of new drugs for serious illnesses by connecting together progress made by the various research teams across the UK.

PPI-Net – Capabilities

PPI-net members were asked to complete a questionnaire.  Its purpose was to assess the capabilities of the PPI community in the UK and within the PPI-network.  The information  gathered has been made available through the PPI-Net Community document, which is currently being revised by PPI-net members.  Feel free to add comments or to respond to comments in the live document (but please leave your name, otherwise your entry will be deleted).

PPI-Net – Network maps

The Network map captured PPI collaborations between academic groups, SMEs and Pharma in the UK and to global groups.