Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Melbourne scientist overturns 30 year calcium dogma

09.07.2003


A University of Melbourne research team has overturned 30 years of dogma on how a cell transports calcium, revealing potential insights into cancer and neuro-degenerative diseases.



Professor Mike Hubbard, Department of Paediatrics and School of Dental Science, will reveal his research in this area at the International Congress of Genetics, Melbourne on Thursday 10 July. He will also discuss the latest on their recent discovery of a new class of protein that they have linked to breast cancer and fertility.

Hubbard, a trained dentist and bio-medical researcher, is using proteomics to investigate the role of calcium and cell survival. When beginning this research, he knew that dental enamel cells process large amounts of calcium and have the unusual capacity to survive high concentrations of the stuff. This led to Hubbard adopting the dental enamel cell as his research model.


Calcium is a critical component of cell survival and function; too much or too little will kill a cell.

“Cells from major calcium-transporting tissues such as the kidney, gut and developing teeth, are likely to be informative about the cellular mechanisms used to handle calcium safely,” says Hubbard.

“Cancer cells thwart the system by being able to thrive with high concentrations of calcium. Knowledge of the calcium-handling machinery in normal cells should help our understanding of how cancer cells manage this feat,” he says.

By contrast, brain cells in people with neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzhiemer’s are unusually susceptible to the toxic effects of excess calcium.

For the last 30 years scientists have been basing their research in this area on the assumption that calcium was actively transported across the cell via a specific a protein acting as a form of packhorse.

Hubbard and his dental enamel cells have now confirmed this dogmatic assumption to be false.

“Any drug development looking to block particular aspects of the calcium transport machinery would probably have failed based on the old assumption,” says Hubbard.

Hubbard’s alternative calcium transport system is based on the cell’s protein factory called the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER). The ER can withstand high concentrations of calcium. Hubbard’s research suggests that the ER acts as a conduit for calcium from one side of the cell to the other.

New protein, new mystery
In the process of unravelling the conundrum of calcium transport, proteomics handed Hubbard and his team a second unexpected discovery in the form of a new protein. They have since found the protein abundant in just about every tissue of the body, but it is especially abundant in brain, lung and breast tumour cells.

The protein is also found in Drosophila, so is highly conserved, suggesting again that it has an important function. The more important the function of a protein or gene, the greater it tends to be conserved through evolution. Fruit flies without this protein are sterile.

Three international teams, including Hubbard’s, are now trying to pinpoint the role of this protein.

“We know it is important, but its exact role is proving hard to pin down. Every stone we turn over tells us it is an extremely important protein,”

Most of Hubbard’s research was done with the University of Otago, New Zealand. Hubbard’s team first reported the new protein in 1997. Prof Hubbard was appointed as Professorial Fellow, Oral and Facial Sciences, in the Department of Paediatrics and School of Dental Science, University of Melbourne in January 2003.

Jason Major | University of Melbourne
Further information:
http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/view.php?articleID=747

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New switch decides between genome repair and death of cells
27.09.2016 | University of Cologne - Universität zu Köln

nachricht A blue stoplight to prevent runaway photosynthesis
27.09.2016 | National Institute for Basic Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development

28.09.2016 | Medical Engineering

Innovate coating extends the life of materials for industrial use

28.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Blockchain Set to Transform the Financial Services Market

28.09.2016 | Business and Finance

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>