Tag Archives: proteins

Tobacco Leaves Could Provide Cheap, Scalable Way to Make Zika Vaccine

Tobacco leaves drying. Photo by MRaccine.

Tobacco might have finally found the image upgrade it’s been looking for, as scientists hope to use the plant to produce a safe and cheap Zika vaccine.

If successful in humans, the plant-based approach could provide an effective solution for countries affected by the disease.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Scientists Use Tobacco Plant As Cheap, Scalable Zika Vaccine Factory

Study Sequences Record Amount of Human microRNA

Discovered  in the nematode c. elegans, miRNA were once thought to be leftovers of an era when RNA ruled life processes on Earth (image by Bob Goldstein, UNC Chapel Hill).

An Arizona State University team has used a unique high-throughput screening system to complete the largest-ever analysis of microRNAs (miRNA), the puzzling little cousins of RNA that help regulate gene expression.

Their findings offer a new explanation for why groups of similar miRNA sequences, called miRNA families, are so plentiful in higher species of animals, including humans.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
ASU Completes Largest-Ever microRNA Study

Press Release: Open SESAME: Proteins Link Cell Metabolism to Genetics, Offer Possible Cancer Target

Researchers have found a new link between a cell’s basic life functions and its genetic operations. The connection involves a protein complex named SESAME, which uses enzymes responsible for glycolysis to activate proteins that regulate genetic material. Glycolysis is the first stage of cellular metabolism, the chain of biochemical reactions by which cells break down food, build proteins and amino acids, and produce energy.

Although their research involved yeast, the authors say the link may hold true in humans. If a SESAME equivalent in humans is found, it could offer insight to enable novel approaches for cancer risk prediction and treatment. Read my full press release at Stowers Institute for Medical Research:

Protein complex links cellular metabolism to gene expression, offers potential therapeutic target

Molecular biologists bring gamers into the ‘fold’

The Foldit computer program
Image courtesy University of Washington

Playing video games isn’t exactly rocket science but, thanks to a crowdsourcing computer game developed by University of Washington researchers, it can be molecular biology – and can offer hope to sufferers of tough-to-crack diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and HIV.

Like John Henry versus the steam hammer or Garry Kasparov versus Deep Blue, Foldit players show that humans still have a thing or two to teach machines; unlike Henry, who died, or Kasparov, who lost in a rematch, protein-folding gamers still have an edge over the brute-force number crunching of supercomputers.

Has a Video Game Cured HIV?