The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the National Institutes of Health, supports all research featured in this digest. Although only the lead scientists are named, coworkers and other collaborators also contributed to the findings.
In This Issue... October 20, 2010
Raymond Stevens and Gye Won Han • Scripps Research Institute
This model shows how HIV, in gray, might latch onto immune cell receptor molecules, allowing the virus to enter and infect the cell. The viral protein, gp120, shown in light blue, binds to receptors CD4 and CXCR4, shown in tan and dark blue. Models like this one allow scientists to test their ideas about how HIV gains access to cells—and help pinpoint important targets for developing drugs to impede HIV. Read more...
NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Center for Research Resources, as well as the NIH Common Fund, also supported this work.
Steve Kay • University of California, San Diego
A protein once thought to be mainly a cogwheel in our body's biological clock turns out to have another important role. According to a new study in mice, cryptochrome also helps keep blood sugar levels constant by regulating glucose production in the liver. Discovering that the protein modulates both functions suggests that sleep patterns could affect susceptibility to obesity or diabetes and could offer new approaches for treating these conditions. Read more...
Caption: A protein that helps turn genes on and off according to daily patterns of light and darkness also plays a role in sugar metabolism. High res. image (JPG, 94KB)
Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study Scientists
As the country prepares for the upcoming flu season, modelers continue
to simulate how H1N1 may spread. Since April 2009, they have modeled
the potential outcomes of different interventions, including vaccination,
treatment with antiviral medications and school closures. Results,
for instance, show that employee vaccination programs are cost effective,
a secondary antiviral can combat drug resistance and that local
demographics may alter the effectiveness of intervention strategies.
New work focuses on how H1N1 could evolve and interact with other
circulating flu strains this fall and winter. Read
Caption: H1N1 virus. Credit: C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish. High
res. image (JPG, 1.4MB)
Ei-ichi Negishi • Purdue University
Long-time NIGMS grantee Ei-ichi Negishi will share the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Richard F. Heck and Akira Suzuki for developing carbon-carbon bond-forming methods. The methods, now widely used in the production of substances ranging from medicines to plastics, let scientists bring two molecules very close together. This allows the molecules to couple, form a compound with a new carbon-carbon bond, release the product and be ready for another cycle. To date, NIGMS has supported the research of 74 Nobel Prize winners. Read more...
Caption: Negishi's technique made it possible to synthesize therapeutic natural products, including a toxin found in the skin of poison dart frogs. Structure from PubChem.
Estela Arrese • Oklahoma State University; Kevin Tracey • Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
In the latest issue of Findings, read about a biochemist in Oklahoma who studies mosquitoes, moths and huge caterpillars to learn how food is stored as fat and used later for energy. Her research could shed light on human diseases like obesity and diabetes. Also meet a New York-based immunologist and neurosurgeon who, inspired by a patient's tragic death, studies why our immune systems can make us sick. He hopes that his research leads to treatments for inflammatory disorders like arthritis, sepsis and heart failure. Read more...
Caption: Cover of the September 2010 issue of Findings.
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