Switching Off Muscular Dystrophy
A group of compounds can switch off the genes responsible for adult-onset muscular dystrophy. This is one of the first times scientists have been able to turn off a genetic, hereditary disease. Chemists screened more than 300,000 small molecules from a previous NIH-funded study and isolated compounds that bind to and inhibit an RNA complex critical to the disease’s progression. When other scientists on the team introduced the compounds into in vitro muscle tissue affected by the disease, the RNA complex did not form, allowing the damage to the muscle cells to be reversed. The small molecules will serve as a tool for stud...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Who Benefits from Breast Cancer Prevention Drugs? These Genes Might Tell
Researchers matched two gene variations previously unconnected to breast cancer with a positive response to long-term cancer prevention treatment using tamoxifen or raloxifene. Both medications are sometimes given to women who are at high risk of breast cancer, but the drugs can have side effects, including blood clots and increased risk of endometrial cancers. The variants are present in or nearby to genes that affect expression of the gene BRCA1, which is strongly associated with the development of breast cancer. Women with the beneficial version of the two variants were more than 5 times less likely than other high-risk...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

How a Genetic Disease Makes Itself More Likely to Pass from Father to Child
About 1 in 2,000 children are born with Noonan syndrome, a genetic disease associated with short stature, congenital heart defects and a unique craniofacial structure. Scientists have found why the disorder is more common than expected in children of older dads. Changes in one of the genes for Noonan syndrome give affected stem cells in the fathers’ testes an advantage over other stem cells. As a result, the stem cells and sperm carrying these mutations are found in higher numbers than usual in the testes of older men, increasing the likelihood that they will produce children with Noonan syndrome. This finding may lead t...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

A New Tool to Check Sugar Consumption
Scientists have found a biomarker that can be used to measure a person’s sugar consumption. Corn and sugarcane, which are among the most prominent sources of sugars, have unique ratios of two forms of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13, that persist in people after they consume sugars made from the plants. Scientists can estimate the amount of sugar intake by looking for those unique ratios in a small hair or blood sample. The new method can be used to calibrate and increase the accuracy of other measurements of sugar consumption as well as aid other diet-related research. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: Making the Ribosome Move
This is the first atomic-resolution image of the protein-building ribosome bound to the protein that controls its motion, EF-G (center of the picture). Using high-energy protein crystallography, researchers obtained the pair’s structure and used it to learn that EF-G moves the ribosome by reshaping itself after interacting with an energy-carrying molecule. EF-G ’s reconfiguration allows the ribosome to manipulate mRNA and tRNA, two molecules needed for protein building in the cell. The finding could lead to better antibiotics that interfere with the ribosome’s movement in bacteria and kills them. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Switching Off Muscular Dystrophy
A group of compounds can switch off the genes responsible for adult-onset muscular dystrophy. This is one of the first times scientists have been able to turn off a genetic, hereditary disease. Chemists screened more than 300,000 small molecules from a previous NIH-funded study and isolated compounds that bind to and inhibit an RNA complex critical to the disease’s progression. When other scientists on the team introduced the compounds into in vitro muscle tissue affected by the disease, the RNA complex did not form, allowing the damage to the muscle cells to be reversed. The small molecules will serve as a tool for stud...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Who Benefits from Breast Cancer Prevention Drugs? These Genes Might Tell
Researchers matched two gene variations previously unconnected to breast cancer with a positive response to long-term cancer prevention treatment using tamoxifen or raloxifene. Both medications are sometimes given to women who are at high risk of breast cancer, but the drugs can have side effects, including blood clots and increased risk of endometrial cancers. The variants are present in or nearby to genes that affect expression of the gene BRCA1, which is strongly associated with the development of breast cancer. Women with the beneficial version of the two variants were more than 5 times less likely than other high-risk...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

How a Genetic Disease Makes Itself More Likely to Pass from Father to Child
About 1 in 2,000 children are born with Noonan syndrome, a genetic disease associated with short stature, congenital heart defects and a unique craniofacial structure. Scientists have found why the disorder is more common than expected in children of older dads. Changes in one of the genes for Noonan syndrome give affected stem cells in the fathers’ testes an advantage over other stem cells. As a result, the stem cells and sperm carrying these mutations are found in higher numbers than usual in the testes of older men, increasing the likelihood that they will produce children with Noonan syndrome. This finding may lead t...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

A New Tool to Check Sugar Consumption
Scientists have found a biomarker that can be used to measure a person’s sugar consumption. Corn and sugarcane, which are among the most prominent sources of sugars, have unique ratios of two forms of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13, that persist in people after they consume sugars made from the plants. Scientists can estimate the amount of sugar intake by looking for those unique ratios in a small hair or blood sample. The new method can be used to calibrate and increase the accuracy of other measurements of sugar consumption as well as aid other diet-related research. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: Making the Ribosome Move
This is the first atomic-resolution image of the protein-building ribosome bound to the protein that controls its motion, EF-G (center of the picture). Using high-energy protein crystallography, researchers obtained the pair’s structure and used it to learn that EF-G moves the ribosome by reshaping itself after interacting with an energy-carrying molecule. EF-G ’s reconfiguration allows the ribosome to manipulate mRNA and tRNA, two molecules needed for protein building in the cell. The finding could lead to better antibiotics that interfere with the ribosome’s movement in bacteria and kills them. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - July 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

New Class of Antibiotics Shows Promise Against Harmful Bacteria
A new type of antibiotic that interrupts protein synthesis in bacteria could be used to create more effective treatments against the bacteria that cause shigellosis, tuberculosis and anthrax. Scientists tested about 650,000 different molecules on a strain of E. coli. Of those, they identified 46 that disrupt a process that bacterial cells use to replicate. The scientists then tested those compounds on several bacteria that can cause lethal infections in people. One of the molecules was 100 times more effective than current treatments for tuberculosis and showed antibiotic activity against a broad spectrum of bacterial spec...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

An Accessible Way of Making Cancer Cells Glow
Scientists have created a method of making cell-cell interactions emit light using chemicals common to many biology laboratories. The researchers injected into mice with advanced tumors a chemical that, through the interaction between cancer and immune cells, can be metabolized into luciferin, a molecule found in fireflies and other light-emitting organisms. Using this chemical, scientists could see where cancer cells had spread within the mouse’s body simply by looking for areas that lit up. The technique may one day be used as a probe for cancer. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Huntington’s Disease Involves Muscle Cell Malfunction, Too
Huntington’s disease, a degenerative genetic disorder that usually emerges in early middle age, has long been considered a neurological disease. Scientists had assumed that the uncontrollable muscle movements associated with the disease were due to brain cells losing function. New research shows that muscle cells in mice carrying the RNA coding error associated with the disease also go awry. Diseased cells responded at a lower threshold than normal muscle cells to electrical pulses similar to a nerve cell firing, and some even responded long after such low-level pulses. The findings may open new lines of research into un...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Receptor Promotes Cancer Spread in Dense Breast Tissue
It’s long been known that women with denser breast tissue are more likely than others to develop aggressive breast cancers that spread. Cancer cells on the edge of a breast tumor have a receptor called DDR2 that attaches to collagen, the protein associated with dense, fibrous breast tissue. Researchers have found that the interaction of DDR2 with collagen starts a biochemical chain of events that promotes high levels of SNAIL1, a protein associated with the spreading of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body. Scientists will now pursue DDR2 inhibitors as possible cancer drugs. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Video: HIV’s Inner Shell
This video shows a computer-generated model of the approximately 4.2 million atoms of the HIV capsid, the shell that encloses the virus’s genetic material. Scientists determined the exact structure of the capsid and the proteins that it’s made of using a variety of imaging techniques and analyses. They then entered this data into a supercomputer that produced the atomic-level image of the capsid. This structural information could be used for developing drugs that target the capsid, possibly leading to more effective therapies. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

New Class of Antibiotics Shows Promise Against Harmful Bacteria
A new type of antibiotic that interrupts protein synthesis in bacteria could be used to create more effective treatments against the bacteria that cause shigellosis, tuberculosis and anthrax. Scientists tested about 650,000 different molecules on a strain of E. coli. Of those, they identified 46 that disrupt a process that bacterial cells use to replicate. The scientists then tested those compounds on several bacteria that can cause lethal infections in people. One of the molecules was 100 times more effective than current treatments for tuberculosis and showed antibiotic activity against a broad spectrum of bacterial spec...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

An Accessible Way of Making Cancer Cells Glow
Scientists have created a method of making cell-cell interactions emit light using chemicals common to many biology laboratories. The researchers injected into mice with advanced tumors a chemical that, through the interaction between cancer and immune cells, can be metabolized into luciferin, a molecule found in fireflies and other light-emitting organisms. Using this chemical, scientists could see where cancer cells had spread within the mouse’s body simply by looking for areas that lit up. The technique may one day be used as a probe for cancer. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Huntington’s Disease Involves Muscle Cell Malfunction, Too
Huntington’s disease, a degenerative genetic disorder that usually emerges in early middle age, has long been considered a neurological disease. Scientists had assumed that the uncontrollable muscle movements associated with the disease were due to brain cells losing function. New research shows that muscle cells in mice carrying the RNA coding error associated with the disease also go awry. Diseased cells responded at a lower threshold than normal muscle cells to electrical pulses similar to a nerve cell firing, and some even responded long after such low-level pulses. The findings may open new lines of research into un...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Receptor Promotes Cancer Spread in Dense Breast Tissue
It’s long been known that women with denser breast tissue are more likely than others to develop aggressive breast cancers that spread. Cancer cells on the edge of a breast tumor have a receptor called DDR2 that attaches to collagen, the protein associated with dense, fibrous breast tissue. Researchers have found that the interaction of DDR2 with collagen starts a biochemical chain of events that promotes high levels of SNAIL1, a protein associated with the spreading of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body. Scientists will now pursue DDR2 inhibitors as possible cancer drugs. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Video: HIV’s Inner Shell
This video shows a computer-generated model of the approximately 4.2 million atoms of the HIV capsid, the shell that encloses the virus’s genetic material. Scientists determined the exact structure of the capsid and the proteins that it’s made of using a variety of imaging techniques and analyses. They then entered this data into a supercomputer that produced the atomic-level image of the capsid. This structural information could be used for developing drugs that target the capsid, possibly leading to more effective therapies. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - June 20, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Stickiness Helps Sort Stem Cells
Information about how strongly different cells stick to surfaces has allowed researchers to develop a faster, more efficient way of isolating human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The method uses a microfluidic device to which cells, including human iPS cells, adhere well. When a cell culture attached to the device is exposed to the flow of a fluid, the iPS cells hang on while others are swept away. The technique results in a greater than 95 percent pure human iPS cell culture. The researchers predict that the method could be scaled up, thereby speeding progress toward potential stem cell-based therapies. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Structure of Critical Enzyme Linked to Cancer and Aging
Using a combination of techniques, researchers have determined the complete molecular structure of telomerase, the enzyme that preserves genetic information by maintaining chromosome endings called telomeres. First discovered in Nobel Prize-winning work on the microorganism Tetrahymena thermophila, telomeres shorten with every cell division as part of the normal aging process. When they become too short, the cell dies. Telomerase counteracts this by preventing the telomeres from becoming too short. However, abnormally high levels of telomerase activity may extend the lifespan of a cell beyond the normal limit, leading to c...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Gene Blocks Appetite Suppression
When scientists discovered in 1994 that the hormone leptin suppresses appetite, they saw it as a promising way to control obesity and diabetes. Now scientists have shed light on one potential mechanism of leptin regulation. They found that mice that lacked a gene called Epac1 had higher sensitivity to leptin. When placed on a high-fat diet, the mice weighed less, were leaner and had lower blood-plasma levels than their counterparts with the gene. A specially developed compound that blocked Epac1 activity in the mice with the gene also significantly reduced leptin levels, another indication that Epac1 contributes to leptin...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

A Universe of Unexplored Small Molecules
The observable universe contains fewer stars than the number of unique organic compounds that could be developed for medical purposes. With such a huge number of molecules, it’s often difficult for chemists to identify and then make the ones with the most therapeutic benefit for a given ailment. Researchers have developed a computer algorithm that may help. It plots all known small carbon-based molecules as though they were cities on a map and identifies huge, unexplored spaces that may help fuel research into new drug therapies. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: Chewing up Proteins
All cells, such as the fruit fly spermatid shown here, recycle various molecules, including malformed or damaged proteins. How? Actin filaments (red) in the cell draw unwanted proteins toward a barrel-shaped structure called the proteasome (green clusters), which degrades the molecules into their basic parts for re-use. New research reveals the role of one enzyme, tankyrase, in the regulation of such protein degradation. In a preliminary study, a molecule originally developed to treat colon cancer inhibits tankyrase, thus blocking proteasome activity. Because abnormally high rates of proteasome activity have been linked to...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Stickiness Helps Sort Stem Cells
Information about how strongly different cells stick to surfaces has allowed researchers to develop a faster, more efficient way of isolating human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The method uses a microfluidic device to which cells, including human iPS cells, adhere well. When a cell culture attached to the device is exposed to the flow of a fluid, the iPS cells hang on while others are swept away. The technique results in a greater than 95 percent pure human iPS cell culture. The researchers predict that the method could be scaled up, thereby speeding progress toward potential stem cell-based therapies. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Structure of Critical Enzyme Linked to Cancer and Aging
Using a combination of techniques, researchers have determined the complete molecular structure of telomerase, the enzyme that preserves genetic information by maintaining chromosome endings called telomeres. First discovered in Nobel Prize-winning work on the microorganism Tetrahymena thermophila, telomeres shorten with every cell division as part of the normal aging process. When they become too short, the cell dies. Telomerase counteracts this by preventing the telomeres from becoming too short. However, abnormally high levels of telomerase activity may extend the lifespan of a cell beyond the normal limit, leading to c...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Gene Blocks Appetite Suppression
When scientists discovered in 1994 that the hormone leptin suppresses appetite, they saw it as a promising way to control obesity and diabetes. Now scientists have shed light on one potential mechanism of leptin regulation. They found that mice that lacked a gene called Epac1 had higher sensitivity to leptin. When placed on a high-fat diet, the mice weighed less, were leaner and had lower blood-plasma levels than their counterparts with the gene. A specially developed compound that blocked Epac1 activity in the mice with the gene also significantly reduced leptin levels, another indication that Epac1 contributes to leptin...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

A Universe of Unexplored Small Molecules
The observable universe contains fewer stars than the number of unique organic compounds that could be developed for medical purposes. With such a huge number of molecules, it’s often difficult for chemists to identify and then make the ones with the most therapeutic benefit for a given ailment. Researchers have developed a computer algorithm that may help. It plots all known small carbon-based molecules as though they were cities on a map and identifies huge, unexplored spaces that may help fuel research into new drug therapies. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: Chewing up Proteins
All cells, such as the fruit fly spermatid shown here, recycle various molecules, including malformed or damaged proteins. How? Actin filaments (red) in the cell draw unwanted proteins toward a barrel-shaped structure called the proteasome (green clusters), which degrades the molecules into their basic parts for re-use. New research reveals the role of one enzyme, tankyrase, in the regulation of such protein degradation. In a preliminary study, a molecule originally developed to treat colon cancer inhibits tankyrase, thus blocking proteasome activity. Because abnormally high rates of proteasome activity have been linked to...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - May 16, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Molecule Linked to Rare Blood Type
In addition to the familiar ABO blood group system, there are more than 30 others. Scientists now better understand the molecular underpinnings of a rare blood type called Vel-negative. An international research team has shown that a previously unknown protein, SMIM1, is missing from the red blood cells of individuals who are Vel-negative. About 1 in 2,500 people have this blood type, and they are at great risk for potentially fatal complications from successive transfusions. Based on these findings, the researchers have developed two DNA-based tests to assist health professionals in detecting and treating Vel-negative pat...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

CRISPR Gene Silencing Tool
One way to find out what a gene does is to shut it off and observe how the cell responds. However, current techniques often turn off untargeted genes as well, making it harder to understand the effects. Now scientists have found a “crisper” way to deactivate a specific gene. The new technique, which is based on the CRISPR interference mechanism that bacteria use to fight off viruses, silences a target gene while having little effect on other genes. The method is a valuable new tool for exploring gene functions and offers a new therapeutic strategy for quieting overly active genes in diseases like cancer. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Ion Channel Releases ATP for Taste Perception
The sense of taste consists of five primary types: sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami (savory). Researchers have figured out how cells transmit information regarding three of these taste types. The involvement of ATP, the body’s main fuel source, was already known, but how it participated remained a mystery. A study conducted in mice found that CALHM1, which is expressed in sweet, bitter and savory tastes bud cells and forms an opening in the pore of the cell membrane, releases ATP molecules. These molecules alert neurons to signal the taste centers of the brain. CALHM1 and its different forms could also play a part in ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

How a Fungus Outmaneuvers a Copper Attack
Inhaled fungal spores can lead to fatal infections in people with compromised immune systems, and few antifungal drugs are effective. Researchers have discovered two mechanisms used by lethal strains of the fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans, to disarm the immune response in the lungs of mice. When defense cells known as macrophages encounter C. neoformans, they engulf the pathogen and pump it full of copper. In response, the fungus creates a protein shield, protecting it from the toxic copper environment. C. neoformans then shuts down the host’s ability to concentrate copper in macrophages. Scientists are now studying how ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: OMX, Mitosis!
Mitosis is the process that divides a single cell into two new cells. In this scene from mitosis, chromosomes (blue) are pulled apart by hook-like kinetochores (green) and spindle fibers (red). A light microscope called the OMX (the researchers later nicknamed it the OMG because of its stunning results) captured this image using high-resolution super-speed cameras. The incredible resolution will let scientists see where specific proteins act on spindle fibers to coordinate chromosome segregation. Such details could lead to a better understanding of what happens when cell division goes awry, as it does in cancer cells. The ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Molecule Linked to Rare Blood Type
In addition to the familiar ABO blood group system, there are more than 30 others. Scientists now better understand the molecular underpinnings of a rare blood type called Vel-negative. An international research team has shown that a previously unknown protein, SMIM1, is missing from the red blood cells of individuals who are Vel-negative. About 1 in 2,500 people have this blood type, and they are at great risk for potentially fatal complications from successive transfusions. Based on these findings, the researchers have developed two DNA-based tests to assist health professionals in detecting and treating Vel-negative pat...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

CRISPR Gene Silencing Tool
One way to find out what a gene does is to shut it off and observe how the cell responds. However, current techniques often turn off untargeted genes as well, making it harder to understand the effects. Now scientists have found a “crisper” way to deactivate a specific gene. The new technique, which is based on the CRISPR interference mechanism that bacteria use to fight off viruses, silences a target gene while having little effect on other genes. The method is a valuable new tool for exploring gene functions and offers a new therapeutic strategy for quieting overly active genes in diseases like cancer. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Ion Channel Releases ATP for Taste Perception
The sense of taste consists of five primary types: sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami (savory). Researchers have figured out how cells transmit information regarding three of these taste types. The involvement of ATP, the body’s main fuel source, was already known, but how it participated remained a mystery. A study conducted in mice found that CALHM1, which is expressed in sweet, bitter and savory tastes bud cells and forms an opening in the pore of the cell membrane, releases ATP molecules. These molecules alert neurons to signal the taste centers of the brain. CALHM1 and its different forms could also play a part in ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

How a Fungus Outmaneuvers a Copper Attack
Inhaled fungal spores can lead to fatal infections in people with compromised immune systems, and few antifungal drugs are effective. Researchers have discovered two mechanisms used by lethal strains of the fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans, to disarm the immune response in the lungs of mice. When defense cells known as macrophages encounter C. neoformans, they engulf the pathogen and pump it full of copper. In response, the fungus creates a protein shield, protecting it from the toxic copper environment. C. neoformans then shuts down the host’s ability to concentrate copper in macrophages. Scientists are now studying how ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: OMX, Mitosis!
Mitosis is the process that divides a single cell into two new cells. In this scene from mitosis, chromosomes (blue) are pulled apart by hook-like kinetochores (green) and spindle fibers (red). A light microscope called the OMX (the researchers later nicknamed it the OMG because of its stunning results) captured this image using high-resolution super-speed cameras. The incredible resolution will let scientists see where specific proteins act on spindle fibers to coordinate chromosome segregation. Such details could lead to a better understanding of what happens when cell division goes awry, as it does in cancer cells. The ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - April 18, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

First Step-by-Step Snapshots of Transcription Initiation
When a gene is turned on--such as insulin in pancreatic cells or melanin in skin cells--an enzyme called RNA polymerase transcribes the genetic information from DNA into RNA. But RNA polymerase can’t initiate the process alone. A bevy of helper molecules identify the gene’s start site, provide a landing pad for the polymerase and prime the DNA for transcription. These helpers alight onto the DNA and assemble into a growing complex in a precise, stepwise manner that has now been captured in a series of detailed molecular snapshots. Knowing how this intricate complex forms provides a valuable framework for understanding ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

A Potential Cure for Kissing Bug’s Infectious Bite
Chagas disease, which is caused by a parasite and transmitted by a “kissing bug,” can lead to intestinal infection, heart disease and even death. Right now, treatment options are limited and toxic. This might change if new research on VNI, a small molecule, continues to show promise. In mouse models, researchers used VNI to inhibit an enzyme that the parasite needs to survive, achieving both a 100 percent parasitological cure and survival rate with no toxic side effects. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

New Catalysts Improve Production of Important Organic Molecules
Making molecules for biomedical uses is tricky. The work is often expensive and time-consuming, requiring extreme temperatures, toxic ingredients and rare or precious metals. Now, chemists synthesizing common organic molecules can overcome these challenges by employing a new class of catalysts (substances used to spur chemical reactions). The catalysts are renewable, cheap to prepare and easy to use. They promote extraordinarily selective reactions that favor desired products over chemically similar but inactive molecules. The catalysts will enable chemists to create a wide variety of biologically and medically useful mole...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Structural Details of Enzyme Involved in Antibiotic Resistance
Disease-causing bacteria like E. coli have a natural defense against antibiotics--an enzyme called NDM-1. Researchers now have a more detailed understanding of how the enzyme works. NDM-1 binds to and breaks the ß-lactam ring, a structure that antibiotics need to function. Certain metals, including zinc, manganese and cadmium, can bind to the enzyme’s active site and to the ß-lactam ring. While some metals allow the enzyme to cleave the ring, cadmium tends to prevent it from doing so. This inhibitor may offer clues to designing more effective antibiotics, especially ones for drug-resistant “superbugs.” (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: Nanoparticles and Lung Function
This image may resemble a trendy textile from a fashion designer’s spring collection, but it’s actually a microscopic image of lung surfactant, a lipid-protein material that aids in respiration by reducing the amount of energy needed. Using microscopy techniques, the researchers captured a snapshot of the changes that occur (black) when surfactant molecules are stressed by carbon nanoparticles. The scientists found that if inhaled, carbon nanoparticles could influence the function of the main lipid component of surfactant. A likely gateway for nanoparticles to enter the body is through the lungs, so this and future stu...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

First Step-by-Step Snapshots of Transcription Initiation
When a gene is turned on--such as insulin in pancreatic cells or melanin in skin cells--an enzyme called RNA polymerase transcribes the genetic information from DNA into RNA. But RNA polymerase can’t initiate the process alone. A bevy of helper molecules identify the gene’s start site, provide a landing pad for the polymerase and prime the DNA for transcription. These helpers alight onto the DNA and assemble into a growing complex in a precise, stepwise manner that has now been captured in a series of detailed molecular snapshots. Knowing how this intricate complex forms provides a valuable framework for understanding ...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

A Potential Cure for Kissing Bug’s Infectious Bite
Chagas disease, which is caused by a parasite and transmitted by a “kissing bug,” can lead to intestinal infection, heart disease and even death. Right now, treatment options are limited and toxic. This might change if new research on VNI, a small molecule, continues to show promise. In mouse models, researchers used VNI to inhibit an enzyme that the parasite needs to survive, achieving both a 100 percent parasitological cure and survival rate with no toxic side effects. (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

New Catalysts Improve Production of Important Organic Molecules
Making molecules for biomedical uses is tricky. The work is often expensive and time-consuming, requiring extreme temperatures, toxic ingredients and rare or precious metals. Now, chemists synthesizing common organic molecules can overcome these challenges by employing a new class of catalysts (substances used to spur chemical reactions). The catalysts are renewable, cheap to prepare and easy to use. They promote extraordinarily selective reactions that favor desired products over chemically similar but inactive molecules. The catalysts will enable chemists to create a wide variety of biologically and medically useful mole...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Structural Details of Enzyme Involved in Antibiotic Resistance
Disease-causing bacteria like E. coli have a natural defense against antibiotics--an enzyme called NDM-1. Researchers now have a more detailed understanding of how the enzyme works. NDM-1 binds to and breaks the ß-lactam ring, a structure that antibiotics need to function. Certain metals, including zinc, manganese and cadmium, can bind to the enzyme’s active site and to the ß-lactam ring. While some metals allow the enzyme to cleave the ring, cadmium tends to prevent it from doing so. This inhibitor may offer clues to designing more effective antibiotics, especially ones for drug-resistant “superbugs.” (Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat)
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news

Cool Image: Nanoparticles and Lung Function
This image may resemble a trendy textile from a fashion designer’s spring collection, but it’s actually a microscopic image of lung surfactant, a lipid-protein material that aids in respiration by reducing the amount of energy needed. Using microscopy techniques, the researchers captured a snapshot of the changes that occur (black) when surfactant molecules are stressed by carbon nanoparticles. The scientists found that if inhaled, carbon nanoparticles could influence the function of the main lipid component of surfactant. A likely gateway for nanoparticles to enter the body is through the lungs, so this and future stu...
Source: NIGMS Biomedical Beat - March 21, 2013 Category: Research Source Type: news