Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sphingolipids with therapeutic ends

05.03.2007
Sphingolipids have been known for over 120 years but, up until recently, they were thought to be molecules that simply complied with a structural function, acting, as it were, as the building blocks of the biological membranes.

In the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the University of the Basque Country (EHU-UPV), they are trying to understand how sphingolipids operate in the cells and how they can regulate certain biological functions.

Sphingolipids are a class of fats fundamental to the architecture of the cell and for regulating metabolism. They are important regulators of certain biological functions. Biological functions as important as the regulation of cellular proliferation, i.e. cell growth. And not just growth, but also the death of the cells. Often cells die due to a problem of toxicity, a bacterial or viral infection, etc. But one of the causes why cells die is precisely because they are programmed to do so - their death is regulated, independently of whether or not they suffer from any kind of infection or traumatic event. This is a physiological process called apoptosis.

Certain sphingolipids also regulate this process. Why is this important? Imagine a metabolic dysfunction or alteration that causes the growth of a tumour. Perhaps the advance of this can be detained by adding certain sphingolipids. We would then, in a way, be treating cancer. Today there are sphingolipids that are used in many clinical trials with very good results.

... more about:
»Molecule »function »metabolism »sphingolipid

At other times the cells, instead of growing, die, causing serious conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer, Parkinson, and so on. Often the neurones die because there are erroneous signals. In these cases, what is called for is to stop this death or, in some way, increase the connections between the cells in order to make up for, as it were, the spaces that they leave between each other. There are sphingolipids that carry out this process; they work to make the cells live and grow.

Regulation of metabolism

EHU-UPV researchers are currently trying to see how the sphingolipids regulate cell metabolism; to this end, they have induced alterations in the metabolism of the cell and tried to return it to normal conditions, applying synthetic sphingolipids. In short, the aim is to employ these for therapeutic ends in a number of illnesses.

One of the studies where most time is invested is the research into how certain sphingolipids control atherogenic processes - processes of formation of atheromas in the arteries. The accumulations of cholesterol in the arteries are, to a great extent, responsible for atheroma plaques. Cholesterol is transported in the blood united with a series of particles called lipoproteíns. One component of lipoproteíns is sphingomieline, a sphingolipid. Often the oxidative changes of the chemical structures of these sphingolipids are what make these molecules more atherogenic - they can transport cholesterol in a better or worse way or they can cause damage to the arteries when they are transported, etc. Thus, at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, they are trying to understand how these sphingolipids might, in some way, contribute to the onset and advance of atherosclerosis.

Another kind of illness on which they are working is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects a large part of the population. There exist important inflammatory reactions caused by sphingolipids. They are investigating the origin of the disease and the return of the altered tissues to their normal state.

How is it being undertaken?

The process being followed is, in general, as follows: the most important cells involved in the formation, for example, of an atheroma, are the macrophages. The EHU-UPV researchers isolated the monocytes — monocytes are undifferentiated macrophages — from the femur of mice. These monocytes were incubated in Petri dishes on a suitable culture to which, moreover, a growth factor had been (such as M-CSF cytoquine). After 4 or 5 days in culture, the macrophages became differentiated and were prepared for their study.

So, for the death of these cells to be induced, they are incubated removing the cytoquine needed for growth from the culture and, thus, the cells enter into apoptosis. In the same way, adding different sphingolipids, the function carried out by each can be observed and if they have really have an effect on cell death or not. It has been observed that ceramide 1 phosphate, for example, blocks this death. It is, therefore, a life signal. On the other hand, this molecule unphosphated, i.e. ceramide, has the opposite effect. It is a death signal. Subsequently it was studied how these effects take place and part of the mechanism has been identified.

It has been shown that sphingolipids are not only inert molecules, acting as the building blocks in biological architecture, but they are also important regulators of metabolism. The next step is to apply them in an animal model, for example, inducing atherogenesis and trying to solve the problem in the whole organism using sphingolipids.

Irati Kortabitarte | alfa
Further information:
http://www.elhuyar.com
http://www.basqueresearch.com/berria_irakurri.asp?Gelaxka=1_1&hizk=I&Berri_Kod=1214

Further reports about: Molecule function metabolism sphingolipid

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources
29.05.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>