Navigation Links
X-ray laser helps fight sleeping sickness
Date:12/4/2012

An international group of scientists working at the Department of Energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has mapped a weak spot in the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, pinpointing a promising new target for treating a disease that kills tens of thousands of people each year.

The results, reported Nov. 29 in Science Express, are already being enlisted in the effort to combat the disease, which is transmitted by tsetse flies infected with the single-celled parasite. The study also marks a milestone in using X-ray lasers, such as SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), to determine the structures of biological molecules that are important for human health.

"This is the first new biological structure solved with a free-electron laser," said Henry Chapman of the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, Germany, one of the leaders of the research team.

Lars Redecke, another team leader, said, "This is really a landmark in structural biology, and a significant step toward developing a new drug." Redecke is a structural biologist at the Joint Laboratory for Structural Biology of Infection and Inflammation of Hamburg and Lbeck universities in Germany.

About 60 million people across Africa are at risk for contracting African sleeping sickness, which kills an estimated 30,000 people each year. Existing drug treatments can be painful and cause serious side effects, and the parasites are becoming increasingly drug-resistant.

One of the parasite's main weapons is an enzyme that breaks down the proteins of its victims. Scientists hope to stop the disease by mimicking a natural "inhibitor" that keeps the enzyme in check until the parasite invades its victim's bloodstream. But the parasite's enzyme is so similar to one in humans that blocking it could also harm the patient, and researchers needed more detailed information about its structure to design a drug that attacks only the parasite.

Two recent developments allowed them to overcome this problem: a new way to grow crystals of the enzyme for analysis and the ability to analyze those tiny crystals with the LCLS X-ray laser, whose pulses are so intense and fast that they capture structural information before a sample is damaged.

The researchers grew the crystals inside live insect cells, freezing the enzyme in its natural inhibited state. Then they streamed the crystals into the laser's path, producing patterns in a detector that were used to reconstruct the enzyme and its inhibitor in 3-D and at nearly atomic scale.

"In my opinion, we provided the most complete blueprint available so far for the development of a synthetic inhibitor to block this enzyme," Redecke said. "Whether it will be successful is hard to say, but the odds are significantly increased by this structural data."

Redecke said his research team is working to crystallize proteins relevant to other parasites and viruses, including strains of hepatitis and flu, that could also be studied at LCLS, and he expects this field of research to grow.

"Our study will encourage others to use free-electron lasers to obtain new structural information of biologically relevant molecules," Redecke said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Andy Freeberg
afreeberg@slac.stanford.edu
650-926-4359
DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology technology :

1. CU-Boulder physicists use ultrafast lasers to create first tabletop X-ray device
2. X-ray vision exposes aerosol structures
3. Advance in X-ray imaging shines light on nanomaterials
4. Eye Surgery Center of Michigan First in Southeast Michigan to Perform Bladeless Cataract Surgery Using New LenSx® Laser Technology
5. New method for enhancing thermal conductivity could cool computer chips, lasers and other devices
6. Research could improve laser-manufacturing technique
7. Cooling semiconductor by laser light
8. New laser can point the way to new energy harvesting
9. Metamaterials may advance with new femtosecond laser technique
10. UCSB Physicists mix 2 lasers to create light at many frequencies
11. JPSA Introduces Picosecond Laser Micromachining System
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
X-ray laser helps fight sleeping sickness
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Parallel 6 , ... announced today the Clinical Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables ... the physician and clinical trial team. , Using the CONSULT module, patients and physicians ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... for Amgen, will join the faculty of the University of North Carolina ... professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... --  Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design ... awarded as one of the World Economic Forum,s ... innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to ... in the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. ... including Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled ... cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous ... (CTCs). The new test has already been incorporated ... multiple cancer types. Over 230 clinical ... response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016   ... management and verification solutions, has partnered with ... software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks ... provides products that add functional enhancements to ... provides corporations and venues with an automated ...
(Date:6/21/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... been appointed to the new role of principal ... has been named the director of customer development. ... , NuData,s chief technical officer. The moves reflect ... development teams in response to high customer demand ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 2016 The global ... reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to ... Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, ... drive the market growth.      (Logo: ... development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):