Category Health/ Medical

Molecular Guardian defends Cells, organs against excess Cholesterol

Highlights •Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is vulnerable to stresses imposed by excess cholesterol •Nrf1 binds and senses excess cholesterol in ER membrane to protect from such stress •Nrf1-deficient liver massively accumulates cholesterol, resulting in liver disease •Nrf1 protects liver by suppressing inflammation and promoting cholesterol excretion

Highlights •Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is vulnerable to stresses imposed by excess cholesterol •Nrf1 binds and senses excess cholesterol in ER membrane to protect from such stress •Nrf1-deficient liver massively accumulates cholesterol, resulting in liver disease •Nrf1 protects liver by suppressing inflammation and promoting cholesterol excretion

Harvard researchers have illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, narrow range. Nrf1 senses and responds to excess cholesterol, and could represent a potential new therapeutic target in a multitude of diseases where cholesterol metabolism is disrupted.

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Hibernating Ground Squirrels provide clues to new Stroke Treatments

A team of scientists identified a molecule that may reduce stroke-induced brain damage. Credit: Image courtesy of the NINDS

A team of scientists identified a molecule that may reduce stroke-induced brain damage. Credit: Image courtesy of the NINDS

Multi-step screening process leads to molecule that may protect brain cells. In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels. While the animals’ brains experience dramatically reduced blood flow during hibernation, just like human patients after a certain type of stroke, the squirrels emerge from their extended naps suffering no ill effects. Now a potential drug could grant the same resilience to the brains of ischemic stroke patients by mimicking the cellular changes that protect the brains of those animals.

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Could this Protein protect people against Coronary Artery Disease?

Clinical Evidence Supports a Protective Role for CXCL5 in Coronary Artery Disease. The American Journal of Pathology, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2017.08.006

Clinical Evidence Supports a Protective Role for CXCL5 in Coronary Artery Disease. The American Journal of Pathology, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2017.08.006

Research showed much lower levels of the protein CXCL5 in older people with clogged arteries. The buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries is an unfortunate part of aging. But by studying the genetic makeup of people who maintain clear arteries into old age, researchers led by UNC’s Jonathan Schisler, PhD, have identified a possible genetic basis for coronary artery disease (CAD), as well as potential new opportunities to prevent it.

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Kevlar-based Artificial Cartilage Mimics the magic of the Real Thing

The artificial cartilage is very flexible yet resistant to tearing. Credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

The artificial cartilage is very flexible yet resistant to tearing. Credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

The unparalleled liquid strength of cartilage, which is about 80% water, withstands some of the toughest forces on our bodies. Synthetic materials couldn’t match it – until “Kevlartilage” was developed by researchers at the University of Michigan and Jiangnan University. “We know that we consist mostly of water – all life does – and yet our bodies have a lot of structural stability,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering at U-M, who led the study. “Understanding cartilage is understanding how life forms can combine properties that are sometimes unthinkable together.”

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