List/Grid

Biochemistry Subscribe to Biochemistry

Sensing neuronal activity with light

Sensing neuronal activity with light

For years, neuroscientists have been trying to develop tools that would allow them to clearly view the brain’s circuitry in action — from the first moment a neuron fires to the resulting behavior in a whole organism. To get this complete picture, neuroscientists are working to develop a range of new tools to study the brain. Continue reading

New genetic targets discovered in fight against muscle-wasting disease

New genetic targets discovered in fight against muscle-wasting disease

Scientists have pinpointed for the first time the genetic cause in some people of an incurable muscle-wasting disease, Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD). The international research team led by the University of Leicester say the finding of two target genes opens the possibility of developing drugs to tackle the disease in these patients. Their work has been published today in the journal PLOS Genetics . Continue reading

New genetic targets discovered in fight against muscle-wasting disease

New genetic targets discovered in fight against muscle-wasting disease

Scientists have pinpointed for the first time the genetic cause in some people of an incurable muscle-wasting disease, Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD). The international research team led by the University of Leicester say the finding of two target genes opens the possibility of developing drugs to tackle the disease in these patients Continue reading

Statins may protect against microvascular complications of diabetes

Statins may protect against microvascular complications of diabetes

The development of common diabetes complications that can lead to blindness and amputations could be reduced by taking statins, indicates new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. It is well established that statins via cholesterol lowering effectively reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes, but whether statin use affects the development of small blood vessel (or microvascular) complications, such as eye, nerve, and kidney disease in individuals with diabetes is not known. “Since high levels of blood glucose, the hallmark of diabetes, are linked with microvascular disease, and since statins are suspected of raising glucose levels, we tested the hypothesis that individuals taking a statin before a diagnosis of diabetes might be at increased risk of developing microvascular complications,” explains study author Professor Børge G Nordestgaard, Chief Physician in Clinical Biochemistry at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. Continue reading

In one of nature’s innovations, a single cell smashes and rebuilds its own genome

In one of nature’s innovations, a single cell smashes and rebuilds its own genome

Life can be so intricate and novel that even a single cell can pack a few surprises, according to a study led by Princeton University researchers. The pond-dwelling, single-celled organism Oxytricha trifallax has the remarkable ability to break its own DNA into nearly a quarter-million pieces and rapidly reassemble those pieces when it’s time to mate, the researchers report in the journal Cell. Continue reading

Platelet-like particles augment natural blood clotting for treating trauma

Platelet-like particles augment natural blood clotting for treating trauma

A new class of synthetic platelet-like particles could augment natural blood clotting for the emergency treatment of traumatic injuries — and potentially offer doctors a new option for curbing surgical bleeding and addressing certain blood clotting disorders without the need for transfusions of natural platelets. The clotting particles, which are based on soft and deformable hydrogel materials, are triggered by the same factor that initiates the body’s own clotting processes Continue reading

Knowing how bacteria take out trash could lead to new antibiotics

Knowing how bacteria take out trash could lead to new antibiotics

A collaborative team of scientists including biochemist Peter Chien at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has reconstructed how bacteria tightly control their growth and division, a process known as the cell cycle, by specifically destroying key proteins through regulated protein degradation. Regulated protein degradation uses specific enzymes called energy dependent proteases to selective destroy certain targets. Because regulated protein degradation is critical for bacterial virulence and invasion, understanding how these proteases function should help to uncover pathways that can be targeted by new antibiotics Continue reading

Scientists call for investigation of mysterious cloud-like collections in cells

Scientists call for investigation of mysterious cloud-like collections in cells

About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don’t know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a cell, and therefore could offer a new approach to disease treatment. In the Journal of Cell Biology , two researchers are issuing a call to investigators from various backgrounds, from biophysics to cell biology, to focus their attention on the role of these formations — for which they coin a new unifying term “assemblages.” “I want to know what these assemblages are doing in Ewing sarcoma, the disease I concentrate on — and I would think all other researchers who study human biology would want to know their functions in both health and disease,” says Jeffrey Toretsky, MD, professor in the department of oncology and pediatrics at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Continue reading

Small molecule acts as on-off switch for nature’s antibiotic factory: Tells Streptomyces to either veg out or get busy

Small molecule acts as on-off switch for nature’s antibiotic factory: Tells Streptomyces to either veg out or get busy

Scientists have identified the developmental on-off switch for Streptomyces, a group of soil microbes that produce more than two-thirds of the world’s naturally derived antibiotic medicines. Their hope now would be to see whether it is possible to manipulate this switch to make nature’s antibiotic factory more efficient. Continue reading

Synthesis produces new fungus-derived antibiotic

Synthesis produces new fungus-derived antibiotic

A fortuitous collaboration at Rice University has led to the total synthesis of a recently discovered natural antibiotic. The laboratory recreation of a fungus-derived antibiotic, viridicatumtoxin B, may someday help bolster the fight against bacteria that evolve resistance to treatments in hospitals and clinics around the world. Continue reading