Science Snapshots from Berkeley Lab

An experiment to study gravity at the quantum scale, insights into an antibiotic-building enzyme, and the backstory of an incredible new protein prediction algorithm are featured in this month’s roundup of science highlights.

Scientists repurpose cancer and seizure medications to aid in the fight against COVID-19

Two teams of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source identified existing drugs — one used to treat cancer, the other an anti-seizure medication — that may work as treatments for COVID-19.

Advanced Photon Source helps reveal how antibodies bind a molecule linked to cancer

Researchers have developed antibodies that can bind to phosphohistidine, an unstable molecule that’s linked to cancer. To learn how the two bind together, the team turned to the powerful X-rays at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source. These new insights into its structure will help scientists design better antibodies for potential treatments.

More than 1,000 SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Protein 3D Structures Available

New Brunswick, N.J. (March 3, 2021) – The 3D structures of more than 1,000 SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus proteins are freely available from the RCSB Protein Data Bank headquartered at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. The data bank reached the milestone this week, with 1,018 proteins as…

Study Identifies Never-Before-Seen Dual Function in Enzyme Critical for Cancer Growth

In developing therapies for hard-to-treat breast and ovarian cancers in patients with BRCA gene mutations, scientists aim to identify ways to keep cancer cells from using DNA break repair pathways. New findings demonstrate a previously-unknown capability for polymerase theta (pol theta) – a key enzyme in this repair function – that shows promise as a new avenue for treatment development.

The Odd Structure of ORF8: Scientists Map the Coronavirus Protein Linked to Disease Severity

A team of biologists who banded together to support COVID-19 science determined the atomic structure of a coronavirus protein thought to help the pathogen evade and dampen response from human immune cells. The structural map has laid the groundwork for new antiviral treatments and enabled further investigations into how the newly emerged virus ravages the human body.

10 ways Argonne science is combatting COVID-19

Argonne scientists and research facilities have made a difference in the fight against COVID-19 in the year since the first gene sequence for the virus was published.

Rutgers Expert Can Discuss AI Advances Linked to RCSB Protein Data Bank

New Brunswick, N.J. (Dec. 3, 2020) – Stephen K. Burley, director of the RCSB Protein Data Bank headquartered at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, is available for interviews on how the bank’s 50 years of data on the 3D biomolecular structures of life and artificial intelligence can lead…

How scientists around the country are using the APS to fight COVID-19

Research teams from across the United States are using a multitude of techniques to study the SARS-CoV-2 virus using the Advanced Photon Source from their homes and institutions.

Near-atomic ‘maps’ reveal structure for maintaining pH balance in cells

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Nov. 4, 2020) — For the first time, scientists have visualized a new class of molecular gates that maintain pH balance within brain cells, a critical function that keeps cells alive and helps prevent stroke and other brain injuries.

Steady Progress in the Battle Against COVID-19

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory are making progress on several fronts in the battle against COVID-19, the global pandemic sparked by the emergence of a novel coronavirus late last year. This work is part of a worldwide effort to understand the virus and the factors that affect its spread with the aim of devising treatments and other mitigation strategies.

Molecular Storytelling Helps Diverse Audiences Understand Biomolecular Science

Reducing the barriers preventing everyone from exploring the science behind biomolecular interactions and structures is the goal of molecular storytelling, a combination of visual and interactive methods used to explain the complex subject of structural biology. Through a 20-year partnership with the RCSB Protein Data Bank, researcher David Goodsell and a team of scientists have developed the Molecule of the Month series, which uses visual and interactive storytelling as an educational bridge for a wide audience of students, educators and the public.

X-Ray Scattering Facility for Extreme Biology Opens for Research

Life on Earth manages to exist in the Mariana Trench and deep below the ocean floor, where extreme conditions create large effects on the behavior of biological molecules. At the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, a facility dedicated to high-pressure biological X-ray scattering is available for use to explore those deep ocean molecules. Richard Gillilan will describe the main capabilities of BioSAXS and call for scientific use of the facility at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association.

Ready to Join the Fight Against COVID-19

UPTON, NY—On July 29, 2020 the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory opened a new cryo-electron microscopy center, the Laboratory for BioMolecular Structure (LBMS), with an initial focus on COVID-19-related research. This state-of-the-art research center for life sciences imaging offers researchers access to advanced cryo-electron microscopes (cryo-EM)—funded by NY State—for studying complex proteins, as well as the architecture of cells and tissues.

Supercomputing Aids Scientists Seeking Therapies for Deadly Bacterial Disease

A team of scientists led by Abhishek Singharoy at Arizona State University used the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to simulate the structure of a possible drug target for the bacterium that causes rabbit fever.

Nanodevices for the brain could thwart formation of Alzheimer’s plaques

Researchers designed a nanodevice with the potential to prevent peptides from forming dangerous plaques in the brain in order to halt development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Two Memorial Sloan Kettering Scientists Elected to Esteemed National Academy of Sciences

Two researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s (MSK) Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Scott Keeney, PhD, a molecular biologist, and Christopher Lima, PhD, a structural biologist, join more than a dozen MSK investigators who are already NAS members. SKI is the research enterprise of MSK, the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center. Members are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Membership is one of the highest honors bestowed upon scientists worldwide.

Argonne’s researchers and facilities playing a key role in the fight against COVID-19

Argonne scientists are working around the clock to analyze the virus to find new treatments and cures, predict how it will propagate through the population, and make sure that our supply chains remain intact.

New coronavirus protein reveals drug target

A potential drug target has been identified in a newly mapped protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The structure was solved by a team including the University of Chicago (U of C), the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine (UCR).