A new method for creating nanofibers made of proteins, developed by researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), promises to greatly improve drug delivery methods for the treatment of cancers, heart disorders and Alzheimer's disease, as well as aid in the regeneration of human tissue, bone and cartilage. In addition, applied differently, this same development could point the way to even tinier and more powerful microprocessors for future generations of computers and consumer electronics devices. The details are spelled out in an article titled "Effects of Divalent Metals on Nanoscopic Fiber Formation and Small Molecule Recognition of Helical Proteins, "* which appears online in Advanced Functional Materials. Author Susheel K. Gunasekar, a doctoral student in NYU-Poly's Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences, was the primary researcher, and is a student of co-author Jin Montclare, assistant professor and head of the department's Protein Engineering and Molecular Design Lab, where the underlying research was primarily conducted.
Slowing or preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease, a fatal brain condition expected to hit one in 85 people globally by 2050, may be as simple as ensuring a brain protein's sugar levels are maintained. That's the conclusion seven researchers, including David Vocadlo, a Simon Fraser University chemistry professor and Canada Research Chair in Chemical Glycobiology, make in the latest issue of Nature Chemical Biology. The journal has published the researchers' latest paper Increasing O-GlcNAc slows neurodegeneration and stabilizes tau against aggregation. Vocadlo and his colleagues describe how they've used an inhibitor they've chemically created - Thiamet-G - to stop O-GlcNAcase, a naturally occurring enzyme, from depleting the protein Tau of sugar molecules. "The general thinking in science, " says Vocadlo, "is that Tau stabilizes structures in the brain called microtubules.
A two year, EUR 675, 000 grant has been awarded to Professor Erich Wanker of the Max DelbrÃ ck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and of the Excellence Cluster Neurocure. Prof. Wanker will use the grant in order to speed up the search for active agents to treat protein misfolding diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The MDC, a member institution of the Helmholtz Association, will match the grant amount bringing the total funding for the study to EUR 1.35 million. Professor Wanker, and his team will use the grant to create a standardized screening platform to identify active agents that the pharmaceutical industry can use. The team's goal is that the study results in the establishment of a spin-off company. The key element of the project will be to develop a system that identifies active agents that impact protein aggregates that are harmful for brain cells.
The ability to detect and respond to magnetic fields is not usually associated with living things. Yet some organisms, including some bacteria and various migratory animals, do respond to magnetic fields. In migratory animals like fish, birds, and turtles, this behavior involves small magnetic particles in the nervous system. However, how these particles form and what they are actually doing is not fully understood. In a new study, published February 28 in the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology, Keiji Nishida and Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School take a major step forward in understanding these processes by making yeast magnetic and then studying how this magnetization is regulated. Dr. Silver's lab uses 'synthetic biology' to generate organisms that do things that they don't usually do;
A study conducted by Li-Huei Tsai, a researcher at MIT, has found that an enzyme (HDAC2) overproduced in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer's, blocks genes needed to develop new memories. With this finding, the team were able to restrict this enzyme in mice and reverse symptoms of Alzheimer's. Results from the study are published in the February 29 online edition of Nature. Alzheimer's currently affects 5.4 million people in the United States. Findings from the study indicate that medications targeting HDAC2 could be a new techniques to treating Alzheimer's. Globally, the incidence of people with Alzheimer's is expected to increase two fold every two decades. Recently, President Barack Obama set a goal date of 2025 to find an effective treatment. According to Tsai, this goal could be achieved with the help of HDAC2 inhibitors, although it would probably take a minimum of at least a decade in order to develop and test such medications.