Biology News

Fast synthesis of peptides could boost drug development Monday, March 17, 2014 - 12:36

Small protein fragments, also called peptides, are promising as drugs because they can be designed for very specific functions inside living cells. Insulin and the HIV drug Fuzeon are some of the earliest successful examples, and peptide drugs are expected to become a $25 billion market by 2018.

 

Study finds that fast-moving cells in the human immune system walk in a stepwise manner Monday, March 17, 2014 - 10:00

A team of biologists and engineers at the University of California, San Diego has discovered that white blood cells, which repair damaged tissue as part of the body's immune response, move to inflamed sites by walking in a stepwise manner. The cells periodically form and break adhesions mainly under two "feet," and generate the traction forces that propel them forward by the coordinated action of contractile proteins. Their discovery, published March 17 in the Journal of Cell Biology, is an important advance toward developing new pharmacological strategies to treat chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

 

Scientists Discover Stum Gene Essential for Sensing Joint Position Friday, March 14, 2014 - 09:28

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered an important mechanism underlying sensory feedback that guides balance and limb movements. The finding, which the TSRI team uncovered in fruit flies, centers on a gene and a type of nerve cell required for detection of leg-joint angles. “These cells resemble human nerve cells that innervate joints,” said team leader Professor Boaz Cook, who is an assistant professor at TSRI, “and they encode joint-angle information in the same way.”

 

Scientists Discover a Better Way to Make Unnatural Amino Acids Friday, March 14, 2014 - 08:55

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have devised a greatly improved technique for making amino acids not found in nature. These “unnatural” amino acids traditionally have been very difficult to synthesize, but are sought after by the pharmaceutical industry for their potential medical uses.

 

Commonly Used Pain Relievers Have Added Benefit of Fighting Bacterial Infection Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 11:07

Some commonly used drugs that combat aches and pains, fever, and inflammation are also thought to have the ability to kill bacteria. New research appearing online on March 13 in the Cell Press journal Chemistry & Biology reveals that these drugs, better known as NSAIDs, act on bacteria in a way that is fundamentally different from current antibiotics. The discovery could open up new strategies for fighting drug-resistant infections and ”superbugs.”

 

Mystery of client selection of chaperone Hsp90 solved Friday, March 7, 2014 - 11:50

Colleagues in Europe and America have solved the mystery of how one of the most important chaperone proteins in our cells, Hsp90, selects its client proteins. Hsp90 plays a role in nearly all processes in our cells, as well as in the origin of diseases such as Alzheimer disease, cancer and cystic fibrosis. Insight into the binding process of Hsp90 will increase our understanding of the origin of these diseases, thereby opening new avenues to prevent or cure them. The results of the research were published in Cell.

 

Resetting Our Clocks: New Details About How the Body Tells Time Friday, March 7, 2014 - 09:36

Springing clocks forward by an hour this Sunday, traveling across time zones, staring at a computer screen late at night or working the third shift are just a few examples of activities that can disrupt our daily, or circadian, rhythms. These roughly 24-hour cycles influence our physiology and behavior, and they're driven by our body's network of tiny timekeepers. If our daily routines fall out of sync with our body clocks, sleep, metabolic and other disorders can result.

 

Computational Tool Offers New Insight Into Key Biological Processes Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 09:34

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a computational tool designed to guide future research on biochemical pathways by identifying which components in a biological system are related to specific biochemical processes, including those processes responsible for gene expression, cell signaling, stress response, and metabolism.