Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have discovered kinks in aggrecan, a widely studied protein at the submolecular root of arthritis, a finding that brings scientists closer toward new drugs and other interventions to prevent or alleviate the disease.
"Aggrecan acts to organize and densely pack sugar molecules that give cartilage its resilience," said Steven Eppell, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Nanoscale Orthopedic Biomaterials Laboratory at CWRU. "Our research shows that aggrecan is sharply bent in specific places and more flexible in other regions, and that the kinked areas may be more susceptible to the enzymes that degrade cartilage in osteoarthritis."
Eppell worked with Brian A. Todd and Jayan Rammohan, graduate students in the CWRU department of biomedical engineering, using funding from the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Research. The researchers examined the protein structure using an atomic force microscope in the Center for Cardiovascular Biomaterials at CWRU. Using sophisticated image processing, the team mapped images of aggrecan onto the human genome and discovered that the kinks in their images lined up with places where aggrecan gets degraded in osteoarthritis. The result provides a link between aggrecans structure and its function in health and disease.
"Clarifying the functions of more than 30,000 proteins that make up the proteome is a major challenge in the wake of the human genome project," Eppell said. "Studying human proteins and discovering how they interact inside their microscopic three dimensional world is a path leading scientists closer to linking a disease with its genetic characteristics. Trailblazing these paths requires us to investigate these proteins, one at a time, to learn how they interact inside their own three-dimensional world and in the body."
According to the National Institutes of Health, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, especially among older people. The disease causes joint pain and limited movement because the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away and allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion of the joint. Currently there is no well-accepted theory for what causes this disease.
"We are working vigorously to link the biological and mechanical properties of cartilage with its molecular structure," Eppell said. "Ultimately, we are in search of clues that lead to intelligent drug design and other interventions to prevent or alleviate arthritis."
Marci E. Hersh | EurekAlert
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology
07.12.2016 | Nanyang Technological University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences