Monthly Archives: November 2013

Misfolding Polypeptides

A number of diseases—including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s—are associated with polypeptides that misfold and aggregate into fibrils that further clump together to form plaques. Researchers have now characterized the structure of an intermediate that leads to fibrils in the folding pathway of a polypeptide implicated in type 2 diabetes.

Disrupting formation of the intermediate structure may provide a new target for preventing or treating the disease, which is a growing public health problem. Type 2 diabetes is defined as an inability to produce enough of or respond properly to insulin. Consequently, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Over time, the condition causes increasingly serious health problems.

The work to characterize the polypeptide intermediate was led by graduate student Lauren E. Buchanan and chemistry professor Martin T. Zanni of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  REST

Heated Nanoparticles Throw Gene Therapy Switch

In a strategy known as gene therapy, scientists insert engineered DNA into diseased cells in order to treat or kill them. Now, researchers have combined nanotechnology and synthetic biology to create a simple switch to turn on such genes inside cells. They demonstrate that heat generated by magnetic nanoparticles activates the engineered genes, slowing tumor growth in mice (ACS Synth. Biol. 2013).  REST