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Highlights of the Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting
Date:2/6/2012

ted, the chemicals combine to enhance the effects of the other. The researchers do not understand the fundamental reason why two structurally similar drugs act oppositely on the dopamine transporter. "There also are many questions on the meaning of these findings for the dozens of other illicit synthetic drugs that have found their way to the street," concludes De Felice. "We do suspect, however, that the combination that is found in bath salts could be behind its powerful physiological and neurological effect on users."

Presentation 1086-Plat, "'Bath salts': A synthetic cathinone whose two major components act similar to methamphetamine and cocaine on the human dopamine transporter," is at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 27.

HIGHLIGHTS: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28

Proteins Behaving Badly: Researchers develop an algorithm to predict how and when proteins misfold: Several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), are caused when the body's own proteins fold incorrectly, recruit and convert healthy proteins to the misfolded form, and aggregate in large clumps that gum up the works of the nervous system. "For Star Trek fans, this is like the Borg, a fictional race of cyborgs that abduct and assimilate humans and other species," says Steven Plotkin, a biophysicist at the University of British Columbia who studies the process of protein misfolding. Plotkin's research group has developed an algorithm that can predict which regions of a protein are prone to misfolding, and how mutations in the protein and changes in the cellular environment might affect the stability of these vulnerable regions. The algorithm can also predict which new parts of the protein will be exposed when it misfolds. Researchers can then use the exposed regions as targets for diagnostic and therapeutic treatments. The algorithm can be adapted for different proteins, and the group has used it to study neurodegenerative disease-causing prot
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Contact: Ellen Weiss
eweiss@biophysics.org
240-290-5606
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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