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THE BIOWORLD BIOME: Our Habitat for All Things Science

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have gained new insights into the relationship between enterovirus infection, heart function, and the protein dystrophin, better known for its role in Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. They published their results in the July 1, 2015, issue of Science Translational Medicine.

As master switches for a number of processes that are important to cell growth, and, with mTOR and Akt, part of the network that integrates nutritional status information with growth decisions, PI3 kinase inhibitors have "enormous promise attached to them" as cancer treatments, Dario Altieri told BioWorld Today.

HONG KONG – Chinese researchers have discovered a novel nonasaccharide molecule – a nine-unit sugar chain – with potent anticoagulant activity that could avoid adverse effects, paving the way for the development of better treatments for thromboembolic diseases, they reported in the June 22, 2015, early online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Of the many types of evidence that a protein might make a good drug target, human genetic studies linking its gene to the disease being targeted is considered one of the better ones. There are certainly examples that bear out this hunch – statins, for example, target the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, and genetic variants in the gene for HMG-CoA reductase affect cholesterol levels.

HONG KONG – An extract of a mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) reduces obesity in mice by altering the composition of the gut microbiota, suggesting it may prove useful for treating obesity and associated disorders in humans, according to a Taiwan study reported in the June 23, 2015, edition of Nature Communications.

After developing new methods for analyzing structurally complex regions of the genome, researchers have gained new insights into the genetics of obesity. Specifically, the new study exonerates an enzyme called amylase 1, which is present in saliva and converts complex carbohydrates to simple sugars. 

Scientists at German biotech Curevac GmbH have reported they were able to raise erythropoietin (EPO) levels in pigs by treating them with sequence-engineered but chemically unmodified messenger RNA (mRNA) encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles.

HONG KONG — Based on the findings of advanced molecular simulations, Japanese researchers have proposed potent new curcumin derivatives for the inhibition of amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides, the main causal agents of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The findings could lead to new treatments for AD and other diseases. 

Researchers have reported success in understanding why some attempts to vaccinate against mucosal pathogens have backfired, leading to worse disease instead of protecting the vaccines. They also presented a vaccination strategy in mice that was able to induce effective protection against one such mucosal pathogen, the sexually transmitted infection Chlamydia trachomatis.

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