Putting A Protein Into Overdrive to Heal Spinal Cord Injuries

Using genetic engineering, researchers at UT Southwestern and Indiana University have reprogrammed scar-forming cells in mouse spinal cords to create new nerve cells, spurring recovery after spinal cord injury. The findings, published online today in Cell Stem Cell, could offer hope for the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who suffer a spinal cord injury each year.

Nuclear War Could Trigger Big El Niño and Decrease Seafood

A nuclear war could trigger an unprecedented El Niño-like warming episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, slashing algal populations by 40 percent and likely lowering the fish catch, according to a Rutgers-led study. The research, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, shows that turning to the oceans for food if land-based farming fails after a nuclear war is unlikely to be a successful strategy – at least in the equatorial Pacific.

Missing Protein Helps Small Cell Lung Cancer Evade Immune Defenses

DALLAS – Jan. 25, 2021 – Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cells are missing a surface protein that triggers an immune response, allowing them to hide from one of the body’s key cancer defenses, a new study led by UT Southwestern researchers suggests. The findings, reported online today in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, could lead to new treatments for SCLC, which has no effective therapies.

Researchers use lasers and molecular tethers to create perfectly patterned platforms for tissue engineering

University of Washington researchers developed a technique to modify naturally occurring biological polymers with protein-based biochemical messages to affect cell behavior. Their approach uses near-infrared lasers to trigger chemical adhesion of proteins to scaffolds made from biological polymers like collagen.

UCI engineers reveal molecular secrets of cephalopod powers

Irvine, Calif., Dec. 17, 2020 — Reflectins, the unique structural proteins that give squids and octopuses the ability to change colors and blend in with their surroundings, are thought to have great potential for innovations in areas as diverse as electronics, optics and medicine. Scientists and inventors have been stymied in their attempts to fully utilize the powers of these biomolecules due to their atypical chemical composition and high sensitivity to subtle environmental changes.

Research News Tip Sheet: Story Ideas From Johns Hopkins Medicine

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins Medicine Media Relations is focused on disseminating current, accurate and useful information to the public via the media. As part of that effort, we are distributing our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins” every other Tuesday.

Marine Fisheries Will Not Offset Farm Losses after Nuclear War

After a nuclear war, wild-catch marine fisheries will not offset the loss of food grown on land, especially if widespread overfishing continues, according to a Rutgers co-authored study. But effective pre-war fisheries management would greatly boost the oceans’ potential contribution of protein and nutrients during a global food emergency, according to the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study for the first time explored the effects of nuclear war on wild-catch marine fisheries.

Large-scale cancer proteomics study profiles protein changes in response to drug treatments

Through large-scale profiling of protein changes in response to drug treatments in cancer cell lines, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have generated a valuable resource to aid in predicting drug sensitivity, to understand therapeutic resistance mechanisms and to identify optimal combination treatment strategies.

Progress Toward Antiviral Treatments for COVID-19

COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, which is structurally similar to the viruses that cause SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. In The Journal of Chemical Physics, scientists report molecular-level investigations of these viruses, providing a possible pathway to antiviral drugs to fight the diseases. They looked at a viral protein that plays a role in the virus’s ability to replicate and in defeating the host’s immune system, making it an attractive target for potential drug treatments.

Inflammatory Protein Found to Protect against Metabolic, Gut Changes in Mice

Article title: Lipocalin 2 deficiency-induced gut microbiota dysbiosis evokes metabolic syndrome in aged mice Authors: Vishal Singh, Sarah Galla, Rachel M. Golonka, Andrew D. Patterson, Benoit Chassaing, Bina Joe, Matam Vijay-Kumar From the authors: “Overall, the current study demonstrates that…

Why Does COVID-19 Impact Only Some Organs, Not Others?

In severe cases of COVID-19, damage can spread beyond the lungs and into other organs, such as the heart, liver, kidney and parts of the neurological system. Beyond these specific sets of organs, however, the virus seems to lack impact. Ernesto Estrada aimed to uncover an explanation as to how it is possible for these damages to propagate selectively rather than affecting the entire body. He discusses his findings in the journal Chaos.

E-waste eating protein creates rare earth elements

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers, in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL), have designed a new process, based on a naturally occurring protein, that could extract and purify rare earth elements (REE) from low-grade sources. It could offer a new avenue toward a more diversified and sustainable REE sector for the United States. The protein, lanmodulin, enables a one-step extraction and purification of (REE)s from complex metal mixtures, including electronic waste and coal byproducts.

Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Enzyme with Inhibitors

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, many researchers are studying epidemiological models to predict its propagation. However, a mathematician and expert in complex systems decided to focus on finding targets within SARS-CoV-2 for new drugs to attack. In the journal Chaos, he discusses the dramatic increase in the sensitivity of the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 to small disturbances, which made him suspect there is a role for inhibitors to play in killing the virus.

Algae in the Oceans Often Steal Genes from Bacteria

Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria to gain beneficial attributes, such as the ability to tolerate stressful environments or break down carbohydrates for food, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.
The study of 23 species of brown and golden-brown algae, published in the journal Science Advances, shows for the first time that gene acquisition had a significant impact on the evolution of a massive and ancient group of algae and protists (mostly one-celled organisms including protozoa) that help form the base of oceanic food webs.

Composing New Proteins with Artificial Intelligence

Proteins are the building blocks of life and scientists have long studied how to improve them or design new ones. Traditionally, new proteins are created by mimicking existing proteins or manually editing their amino acids. This process is time-consuming, and it is difficult to predict the impact of changing an amino acid. In APL Bioengineering, researchers explore how to create new proteins by using machine learning to translate protein structures into musical scores, presenting an unusual way to translate physics concepts across domains.

Catch and release: MTU biochemists purify proteins with a fishing technique

Protein purification is a multibillion-dollar industry. A new purification process developed by Michigan Tech biochemists, called capture and release (CaRe), is a lot like catch and release fishing. It comes down to the picking the right lure to bait a specific protein and CaRe speeds up protein purification while also lowering costs.

Opening Up DNA to Delete Disease

Protein editorial assistants are clearing the way for cut-and-paste DNA editors, like CRISPR, to access previously inaccessible genes of interest. Opening up these areas of the genetic code is critical to improving CRISPR efficiency and moving toward futuristic, genetic-based assaults on disease. The DNA-binding editorial assistants were devised by a U.S.-based team of bioengineers, who describe their design in APL Bioengineering.

Scientists Discover New Antibiotic in Tropical Forest

Scientists from Rutgers University and around the world have discovered an antibiotic produced by a soil bacterium from a Mexican tropical forest that may help lead to a “plant probiotic,” more robust plants and other antibiotics. Probiotics, which provide friendlier bacteria and health benefits for humans, can also be beneficial to plants, keeping them healthy and more robust. The new antibiotic, known as phazolicin, prevents harmful bacteria from getting into the root systems of bean plants, according to a Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Nature Communications.

Choices of the Heart: Healthy Foods More Important than Type of Diet to Reduce Heart Disease Risk

In a study published online in the International Journal of Cardiology, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) examined the effects of three healthy diets emphasizing different macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, or unsaturated fats – on a biomarker that directly reflects heart injury. The team found that all three diets reduced heart cell damage and inflammation, consistent with improved heart health.