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Feb 20, 2008

Researchers Identify Novel Pathway for Oxidative Stress

  • A research team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison report the discovery of a novel gene-expression pathway that exerts a major influence over the process of oxidative stress.

    The scientists identified that an enzyme in the new pathway that they dubbed Star-PAP regulates the production of a relatively small number of proteins and enzymes in cells, report the researchers. One of the proteins it regulates is heme oxygenase-1, an agent that is essential for protecting cells from oxidative stress.

    “A wealth of the genes involved in oxidative stress also seem to be the direct targets for the Star-PAP pathway,” adds Richard A. Anderson, Ph.D., senior author of the report and professor of pharmacology.

    The study reveal that Star-PAP functions as part of a complex that controls the expression of mRNA. It is responsible for adding a biochemical tail onto mRNA. This tail enables it to exit the nucleus of the cell and enter the cytoplasm. The process thus essentially allows the enzyme to turn the mRNA on and off, thus controlling the production of certain key enzymes and proteins in the cell.

    The paper will be published in the February 21 edition of Nature.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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