Misfolded proteins behind many diseases

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by wdlove, May 25, 2004.

  1. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #1
    Susan Lindquist, director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, has devoted her professional life to better understanding how and why proteins misfold. On Thursday, her lab published its latest findings, detailing how in yeast a particular protein can dismantle amyloid fibers -- plaquelike proteins with a structure similar to those that muddy the brains of Alzheimer's victims.

    Amyloid fibers are devilishly resilient, and this is the first demonstration of a biological mechanism that easily dissolves them. Given that so many processes in yeast are reproduced in humans, Lindquist said she is hopeful that this new finding will elucidate our understanding of protein diseases, like Alzheimer's, and lead to possible treatments.

    "Given their resilient structure, the fact that a protein can take apart these amyloids is remarkable," she stated in a release issued by the Whitehead. "It has huge implications for our understanding of the protein folding process in amyloid-related conditions."

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2004/05/25/misfolded_proteins_behind_many_diseases/

    Protein origami is her passion

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2004/05/25/protein_origami_is_her_passion/
     
  2. krimson macrumors 65816

    krimson

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    Here's my doomsday proposal for the month.

    *rubs foggy crystal ball made of pyrex*

    At the turn of the century, military scientists were secretly studying the feasibility of forcing some proteins to fold into a destructive protein (similar in effect to BSE) structure. Since they are not self supporting/replicating and do not carry DNA, they are not bound by the ban on biological weapons. Now in the year 2060, these destructive proteins used by rogue nations, terrorists and in legitimate combat, have rendered vast areas of the world uninhabitable.
     
  3. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #3
    It would be interesting to see if she and the Stanford folks share any data.

    For those interested, you can help protein folding research by installing Folding@Home on your computer and join the MacRumors team. Here's our FAQ page. :)
     
  4. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    How many of your monthly doomsday proposals been found true?
    How do you know its not an evil scientist with a bad haircut?
     
  5. Bedawyn macrumors regular

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    No, no! :eek: This is reasons to devote your computer to SETI instead of folding! Save me from any more jargon-laden, alphabet-soup papers! Please!
     
  6. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #6
    Unless aliens' bodies have similar issues to ours with misfolded proteins and they've solved that issue, SETI won't do much for disease research here on Earth. :p
     
  7. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #7
    Thank you Rower! ;) I think that this article points out the importance of our contribution is to folding. It should encourage others to join. Makes it very interesting to read about an investigator that is doing this research and what in all involves.
     
  8. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    How about I do neither, and just let my computer go to sleep instead of doing SETI or Folding? I don't see a check coming to me from SETI or Stanford to pay for my electricity bill. Besides, being in California, we have to conserve electricity or else its rolling blackouts this summer again. :eek:
     
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #9
    Nothing like a chance for a shameless plug eh? Well, I'll help out and quote it too! :p

    Maybe this will draw a few more people to Team 3446?
     
  10. Bedawyn macrumors regular

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    Well, yes, but I won't have to copyedit any papers coming out of SETI. I copyedit too many protein folding and genetics papers as it is. And I really _really_ despise doing protein and genetics papers. I wasn't kidding when I mentioned alphabet soup -- you can't pronounce half the "words" that show up in many of these papers. From a copyeditor's view, they give me nightmares.

    Seriously, though, I really do have ethical issues with a lot of the biomedical research going on these days, more in genetics than in protein folding, but these days it's almost impossible to do anything in biomedicine or basic biology that doesn't involve splicing bits of one species into another species or raising animals specifically for the purpose of killing them or making their lives otherwise miserable. If more computers helps them do more modelling and less transgenics, I'm all for it. But I'd still want to do some serious research into exactly which projects my efforts were helping before folding, and would rather work on climate modelling instead.

    But it's really the reason that Frohickey mentioned that keeps me from doing distributed computing now. I wouldn't mind it running in the background when I want the computer on anyway, but sorry, my apartment isn't air conditioned, I don't want the computer running in 90 degree heat. And the sheer numbers of people that leave their computer on 24 hours a day just boggles my mind.
     
  11. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

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    #11
    Nutty, but scary at the same time. I've always said that humans won't cease to exist because of nukes... it'll be the little guys like influenza, AIDS, ebola, and... mis-folded proteins (?).
     
  12. krimson macrumors 65816

    krimson

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    #12
    Well, none yet, this one is my first.. LOL ;)
    but the military does tend to make use of new discoveries like this.
     
  13. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    Actually, its not even as you say it is.

    These days, at least for current Generation Macintoshes, the Operating System allows the processor to go into and out of low power napping modes when the system is idle. So, even if your computer is on, if you are not doing anything on it, its probably not doing anything and is in low power mode most of the time. Put SETI or Folding on it and you see your power consumption go up.
     
  14. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #14
    It's a small price to pay for helping disease research. Consider it charity. ;)
     
  15. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Hehe, that's the libertarian version of charity for ya. 'I got's to get mine if you're gettin any charity pal!' :D :eek: :eek:
     
  16. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    True charity is to think of things above and beyond ones self. It is to think of others and the future.
     
  17. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    Okay, so how is this different from before? Remember the Black Plague/Death over in Europe? Measles? Smallpox? AIDS is actually a pretty piss-poor example of a global contagion, it takes too long to kill its victims, it requires exchange of body fluids in order to be contracted. Ebola is not good either, it kills its victims too fast and it requires body fluids to be contracted.

    Watch out though if influenza were to mutate or join up with ebola or smallpox. But I think that even with that, there will be some group of people that will be immune/resistant to that.

    Why do you think that the man that was exposed to AIDS but has yet to develop the disease has been turned into a human pincushion? :eek:
     
  18. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Agreed. That's why I don't mind shelling out a little for electricity to let my computer fold away. Besides, even with it my PG&E bill is rarely above $25 for electricity.
     
  19. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    I'll just donate a computer complete with the power cords and keyboard to Stanford. How about that? :eek:
     
  20. Bedawyn macrumors regular

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    I don't think it was ever about the financial cost of the extra electricity. The point is that energy conservation -- especially in areas with rolling blackouts, but certainly not only there -- is _also_ a worthy cause. I don't know how to stack them on the scales of balance, but it's something to consider. I do know that, in general, I consider environmentalism more important than disease research; I just don't know how to quantify and compare them in the case of folding.
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    I'll consider a cessesation in my Folding habits if there is a threat of rolling blackouts, but in the meantime that's a piss-poor excuse for not doing it. Just say you're not interested in helping find a cure for disease, not that Folding will cause rolling blackouts so you don't want to do it. Besides, if you are that interested in conserving energy there are MUCH more effective ways to reduce your electricity usage. You might start by unplugging your stereo and TV when you're not using them so they don't trickle away energy waiting to turn on on command. Or, alternatively, installing compact flourescent lights in all light sockets will save you WAAAAY more energy than your computer would use to Fold with.
     
  22. applebum macrumors 6502

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    Quite right. But anyone who is truly interested in conserving energy and helping the environment would turn off their air conditioner. This would give the single biggest energy savings. I wonder how many are truly this dedicated.
     

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