December 2016

Bio-Synthesis Newsletter - December 2016

World Aids Day 2016

HIVWorld AIDS Day is observed on December 1, drawing attention to the status of the worldwide epidemy caused by the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). Because of antiviral therapy HAART, the life expectancy of HIV-infected people has increased dramatically. However, HAART cannot rid the body of HIV and must be taken every day for life. But there is hope. Scientists at the NIH have recently identified a potent antibody from an HIV-infected person that globally neutralizes up to 98% of HIV isolates tested. We hope that there will be a vaccine against HIV/AIDS available soon.

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Is Carnosine A Natural Antioxidant?

Is Carnosine A Natural AntioxidantCarnosine (β-Alanyl-Lhistidine) is a bioactive endogenously abundant dipeptide. Carnosine is found in various mammalian (animal) tissues including brain, kidney, heart, liver, skeletal muscle, and skin. Carnosine levels are higher in fast-twitch and lower in slow-twitch muscles. Carnosine is thought to act as an antioxidant that destroys free radicals. The exact role of carnosine in muscle and exercise is presently unknown and speculative. Carnosine is a zwitterion. Carnosine can be analyzed in an amino acid analyzer as the dipeptide or hydrolyzed into the two amino acids β–alanine and L-histidine. More recently, mass spectrometry, especially LC-MS(MS) now also offers itself as a sensitive tool for its detection and analysis.

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Optogenetics and Imaging in Neuroscience Research

Optogenetics and Imaging in Neuroscience ResearchThe use of optogenetics is one of the most active and exciting technologies in neuroscience. Optogenetics involves the use of light to control cells in living tissue. Genetically encoded, single-component optogenetic tools enable specific modulation of selected cells within complex neural tissues. Optogenetic Tool families  inclue channelrhodopsins, halorhodopsins, and rhodopsin-G protein-coupled chimeras that respond to green (500 nm) light which are used to illuminate biological functions in neurons. These tools are now used in neuroscience to study neuronal excitation and networks. The use of femtosecond lasers, such as ytterbium fiber lasers, together with molecular techniques will further expand the optogenetic toolbox enabling optical control in biochemistry and neuroscience needed in brain research.

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Antigenic Peptides for Epitope Mapping

Antigenic Peptides for Epitope MappingSynthetic peptide libraries are useful tools for the development of vaccines against invasive pneumococcal disease. Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is an infection caused by the Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria. This infection can lead to pneumonia, infection of the blood, serious middle-ear infections or bacterial meningitis. The WHO estimates that this disease kills half a million children below five years every year. However, a large reduction in disease incidences has been seen in countries that have used pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV). Lagousi et al. in 2015 reported the use of synthetic 20-mer peptides for epitome mapping studies of major antigenic fragments from pneumococcal virulence proteins.

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