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Exciting New Field of Bioorthogonal Chemistry Owes a Debt to Curiosity-Driven Research from Previous Eras

In her Kavli Lecture at the American Chemical Society’s spring meeting, Carolyn Bertozzi described how her ground-breaking bioorthogonal chemistry research made use of experiments nearly a century ago by two German chemists whose work rose from scientific curiosity.

Responding to the Radiation Threat

Berkeley Lab Researchers are developing a promising treatment for safely decontaminating humans exposed to radioactive actinides from a major radiation exposure event, such as a nuclear reactor accident or a “dirty bomb” terrorist attack. The treatment, which can be administered as a pill that can result in the excretion of approximately 90-percent of the actinide contaminants within 24 hours, has been advanced through the initial pre-clinical phases.

How Good Cholesterol Turns Bad

Berkeley Lab researchers have found new evidence to explain how cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) mediates the transfer of cholesterol from “good” high density lipoproteins (HDLs) to “bad” low density lipoproteins (LDLs). These findings point the way to the design of safer, more effective next generation CETP inhibitors that could help prevent the development of heart disease.

Obesity as a Vicious Circle

A researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has come up with some intriguing new data and a provocative hypothesis: that obesity itself makes people much more susceptible to risk factors that promote weight gain in the first place.

Close Up Look at a Microbial Vaccination Program

Berkeley Lab researchers, using a combination of cryo-electron microscopy and 3-D image reconstruction, determined the structure of Cascade, a protein complex that plays a key role in the microbial immune system by detecting and inactivating the nucleic acid of invading pathogens. Microbial immune systems in the human microbiome play a critical role in preserving the health of their human host.

The Brittleness of Aging Bones – More than a Loss of Bone Mass

A Berkeley Lab study shows that at microscopic dimensions, the age-related loss of bone quality can be every bit as important as the loss of quantity in the susceptibility of bone to fracturing. While medical treatments to date have focused on age-related loss of bone mass, the age-related loss of bone quality is an independent factor.

Firefly Glow: Berkeley Lab Scientists Develop a Safe Hydrogen Peroxide Probe Based on Firefly Luciferin

Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a probe for monitoring hydrogen peroxide levels in mice that enables them to track the progression of cancerous tumors or infectious diseases without harming the animals or even having to shave their fur. This new probe is based on luciferase, the enzyme that gives fireflies their glow.

A Second Pathway for Antidepressants: Berkeley Lab Reports New Fluorescent Assay Reveals TREK1 Mechanism

Berkeley Lab researchers developed a unique cell-based fluorescent assay that enabled them to identify a means by which fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, suppresses the activity of the TREK1 potassium channel. TREK1 could be an important new target for antidepressant drugs.

Learning to Read the Genome

As part of the National Institutes of Health’s “model organism Encyclopedia of DNA Elements” (modENCODE) project, Berkeley Lab researchers have made major advances in understanding the complex relationships between the Drosophila genome as recorded by DNA and RNA base pairs and the patterns and physical organization of its chromosomes, both essential for producing a functioning fruit fly. These new insights into reading the genome apply to human beings and many other organisms as well.

Reading the Signs: Plants and Animals Found Common Ground in Response to Microbial Threats

Contrary to long-held beliefs, plants and animals have
developed remarkably similar mechanisms for detecting microbial invasions. This holds promise for the future treatment of infectious diseases in humans.