Activate Now
ProHealth health Vitamin and Natural Supplement Store and Health
Home  |  Log In  |  My Account  |  View Cart  View Your ProHealth Vitamin and Supplement Shopping Cart
800-366-6056  |  Contact Us  |  Help
Facebook Google Plus
Fibromyalgia  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & M.E.  Lyme Disease  Natural Wellness  Supplement News  Forums  Our Story
Store     Brands   |   A-Z Index   |   Best Sellers   |   New Products   |   Deals & Specials   |   Under $10   |   SmartSavings Club

Trending News

Patient Insights into the Design of Technology to Support a Strengths-Based Approach to Health Care.

SURVEY: Weight Management & Chronic Illness

Japanese green tea consumers have reduced risk of dementia

Do Nothing, Accomplish Everything! The Connection Between Breathing and Healing

Meet the ProHealth Editors

Best Herbs to Help With Insomnia

Choline: Why You Should Eat Your Egg Yolks and Take Krill

Calcium, vitamin D supplementation associated improved stroke recovery

Acupressure reduced fatigue in breast cancer survivors

More positive evidence for melatonin in breast cancer battle

Print Page
Email Article

Jefferson scientists detail mechanisms of programmed cell death

  [ Not Yet Rated ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Press Release by Thomas Jefferson University • • June 10, 1999

By detailing the precise molecular pathways of apoptosis, or programmed cell death, scientists at Jefferson Medical College hope to someday develop new drugs against cancer, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

In the June 10 issue of the journal Nature, Emad Alnemri, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, in collaboration with Yigong Shi, Ph.D., at Princeton University, describe the workings of an enzyme, caspase-9, that is crucial to understanding apoptosis. In effect, they detail part of the intricate cascade of cellular events leading to activation of this enzyme in apoptosis.

"Biotechnology companies are trying to develop drugs that inhibit caspases to fight neurodegenerative diseases and other diseases in which apoptosis is involved in the pathologic process, and are developing clinical trials," says Dr. Alnemri, who is also deputy director of the Jefferson Center for Apoptosis Research. Understanding the apoptotic pathway and each protein's role in the cell-to-cell communication process has implications for drug discovery, he says.

Apoptosis is a fundamental biological process that is vital to cell differentiation and normal development. In human embryos, for example, apoptosis creates fingers from mitt-like hands. It occurs during normal aging and sometimes during irreversible cell injury from radiation and other poisons. Scientists believe apoptosis gone awry underlies neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, autoimmune diseases such as lupus, and cancer.

Apoptosis has received a great deal of attention in the popular press in recent years when scientists discovered that part of the reason cancer cells grow with abandon is because they lose the ability to die at a preset time.

Dr. Alnemri explores apoptosis at the molecular level, attempting to understand how and why various molecules affect the process, particularly what triggers it to begin with. The focus of his research is caspases, a family of 14 cysteine proteases, enzymes that degrade critical cellular proteins. Seven of these are known to be involved in apoptosis. Dr. Alnemri and his co-workers discovered many of the caspases themselves.

In the Nature paper, the researchers focused their attentions on better understanding the chemical "recognition complex," or precise binding region, between caspase-9, and Apaf-1 (apoptotic protease activating factor-1), a protein that helps regulate apoptosis. "They bind to each other -- we published that previously -- but no one knew how. We had never seen the crystal structure of that binding complex," Dr. Alnemri explains. "We wanted to know which amino acids were involved, and the chemical nature of this interaction.

"We overexpressed and crystallized the actual pieces of Apaf-1 and caspase-9 that bind to each other," he explains. The scientists subsequently used x-ray crystallography to analyze the chemical structure of the recognition complex, where the two interact with one another. They showed how mutation of even a single critical amino acid within the recognition complex can affect the binding between the two proteins.

Dr. Alnemri contends that a key to halting the diseases processes involved in many degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's may lie in disrupting this attachment. "How do you stop the disease process?," he asks. "If you find a molecule that can disrupt these two proteins from binding, you might have a drug," he says. "A drug that could bind to the surface of the caspase might then block the apoptotic pathway and halt the process from occurring."

The next step is to develop such drugs, he says, which may involve "developing peptides, substances that mimic the chemical 'recognition sequence' on the two crystal structures of caspase-9 or Apaf-1 and see if they indeed disrupt apoptosis. No caspase-based drugs currently exist that block apoptosis in this manner."

The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Source: Thomas Jefferson University Press Release: June 10,1999

Contact: Steve Benowitz,, 215-955-5291

Post a Comment

Featured Products From the ProHealth Store
FibroSleep™ Mitochondria Ignite™ with NT Factor® Ultra ATP+, Double Strength

Looking for Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements?
Search the ProHealth Store for Hundreds of Natural Health Products

Article Comments

Be the first to comment on this article!

Post a Comment

Natural Pain Relief Supplements

Featured Products

Energy NADH™ 12.5mg Energy NADH™ 12.5mg
Improve Energy & Cognitive Function
Vitamin D3 Extreme™ Vitamin D3 Extreme™
50,000 IU Vitamin D3 - Prescription Strength
FibroSleep™ FibroSleep™
The All-in-One Natural Sleep Aid
Optimized Curcumin Longvida® Optimized Curcumin Longvida®
Supports Cognition, Memory & Overall Health

Natural Remedies

The Surprising Benefits of Probiotics - What You Didn't Know The Surprising Benefits of Probiotics - What You Didn't Know
SAD? Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD? Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
Restore Youthful Cognition and Well-Being Restore Youthful Cognition and Well-Being
Thyroid Health and Fibromyalgia Thyroid Health and Fibromyalgia
Astaxanthin - A Little-Known but Power-Packed Nutrient Astaxanthin - A Little-Known but Power-Packed Nutrient

ProHealth, Inc.
555 Maple Ave
Carpinteria, CA 93013
(800) 366-6056  |  Email

· Become a Wholesaler
· Vendor Inquiries
· Affiliate Program
Credit Card Processing
Be the first to know about new products, special discounts and the latest health news. *New subscribers only

CONNECT WITH US ProHealth on Facebook  ProHealth on Twitter  ProHealth on Pinterest  ProHealth on Google Plus

© 2016 ProHealth, Inc. All rights reserved. Pain Tracker App  |  Store  |  Customer Service  |  Guarantee  |  Privacy  |  Contact Us  |  Library  |  RSS  |  Site Map