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Nov 15, 2007

Scripps Team Creates Model for Mapping Protein Folding

  • A team of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute created a new model called folding for export (FoldEx), which is designed to provide a general framework for understanding the causes and potential treatments of diseases that arise when this protein homeostasis machinery malfunctions. 

    FoldEx is an analysis that treats rather complex competing pathways as if they were single enzymes, the researchers explain. This simplifies the analysis without loosing the essence of the chemistry and biology of protein homeostasis, they add. FoldEx can thus represent complicated processes with well-established biochemical principles and help explain how these pathways compete for various conformational ensembles of proteins and dictate the balance between folding, secretion, and degradation. 

    The Scripps team reports that FoldEx can predict concepts, principles, and results that have already been validated. The real value of the model, however, is that it can be used to predict how folding and misfolding diseases may be delayed or reversed by manipulating the innate biological machinery, they remark.

    The team describes the mathematical model in the November 16 issue of Cell.

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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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