Engineered Proteins Will Lead to ‘Synthetic Biology’

Biochemists have developed a computational method to design proteins that can specifically detect a wide array of chemicals from TNT to brain chemicals involved in neurological disorders. In a paper in the May 8, 2003, issue of the journal Nature, they demonstrate the breadth of their design method, and also that such sensor proteins can be re-incorporated into cells to activate cellular signaling and genetic pathways.

Diet, Exercise Together Effective in Controlling High Blood Pressure

New research suggests that an overhaul of dietary and fitness habits to help prevent or control high blood pressure is feasible with proper coaching, contrary to the theory that too many changes would be overwhelming and ineffective for most people. The best results in the study were achieved when weight loss, salt restriction and exercise were paired with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products.

Growing Human Skin in Laboratory Can Prematurely Age Cells

Children who receive laboratory-expanded sheets of their own skin to cover severe burns are saved from certain death, but their new skin can have the cellular age of an 80 year old, according to a study at Duke University Medical Center. The process of growing small patches of human skin into larger sheets, called tissue engineering, makes cells divide so many times that the skin becomes prematurely aged at a cellular level.

Antiepileptic Drug Useful for Weight Loss in Obese Adults

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have concluded, in a preliminary study published today, that the drug zonisamide (trade name Zonegran), an anticonvulsant used to treat some types of epileptic seizures, has appetite-reducing effects that could eventually offer hope to thousands of people as an effective therapy for weight loss.