Team’s discovery could lead to new diabetes treatment

June 15, 2017

High circulating glucose, the hallmark of diabetes, is linked to the disease’s most serious complications including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputation. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death and costs the nation an estimated $322 billion a year. Restoring the action of insulin has been the traditional treatment route. Insulin, a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreatic islets, lowers blood glucose by stimulating uptake of glucose by muscle and other tissues and by suppressing glucose production by the liver. Another possible approach is to block the actions of another pancreatic hormone, glucagon, which normally stimulates the liver to make more glucose when blood glucose levels fall. Read more

Coming of Age for Imaging Mass Spec

June 8, 2017

Vanderbilt Basic Sciences Prof. Richard Caprioli (Department of Biochemistry) is featured in the cover story of the American Chemical Society’s primary trade magazine, Chemical and Engineering News. The article outlines how imaging mass spectrometry (IMS), pioneered in the Caprioli laboratory, has now been broadly adopted by the pharmaceutical industry. IMS enables researchers to visualize the distribution of a drug and its metabolites in tissues throughout the body. Thus, investigators can determine whether or not the drug is reaching the desired target tissues, and they can identify potential sites in the body where toxicity might occur. IMS has many other potential applications that are currently being explored in the Caprioli lab, but the wide adoption of the technique for drug development signals that its potential will be fully realized in the years to come. Read more

Richmond to speak at national VA research conference on cancer immunotherapy

May 18, 2017

Vanderbilt University cancer researcher Ann Richmond, Ph.D., 2016 recipient of one of the highest honors for scientific achievement bestowed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will be a keynote speaker during a national VA research conference next week at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Cancer Immunotherapy: Advances and Challenges” is the topic of the Third National Veterans Health Affairs Research Conference, which will be held May 17-18 in room 208 Light Hall.

Conn, Lindsley, Winder Recognized by School of Medicine

May 16, 2017

Jeffrey Conn, Craig Lindsley and Danny Winder were recognized for excellence in teaching and outstanding contributions to research during the 2017 School of Medicine Spring Faculty meeting. Danny G. Winder, Ph.D. received the F. Peter Guengerich Award for Mentoring Postdoctoral Fellows or Residents in the Research Setting. P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D. and Craig W. Lindsley, Ph.D. received the John A. Oates Award for Two or More Faculty Working Collaboratively or in a Multidisciplinary Manner to Address Important Biological Processes.

Key Signaling Protein Structure Reveals Clues to Alzheimer’s disease therapy

April 27, 2017

The protein gamma-secretase appeared to be a promising target for drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It “cuts” the amyloid precursor protein to release amyloid-beta — a protein fragment that clumps together and forms neuron-killing plaques. “Amyloid-beta is thought to ‘seed’ Alzheimer’s disease, so lowering its production has been a goal to prevent, or possibly treat, the disease,” said Charles Sanders, Ph.D., Aileen M. Lange and Annie Mary Lyle Professor of Cardiovascular Research at Vanderbilt.

Hudson to receive Protein Society’s Brändén Award

April 27, 2017

Vanderbilt University biochemist Billy Hudson, Ph.D., has been awarded the 2017 Carl Brändén Award by The Protein Society for exceptional contributions to science, education and service. The award, named for the late Swedish biologist Carl Brändén, a pioneer in protein crystallography, will be presented during the society’s 31st Annual Symposium July 26 in Montreal, Canada.

Polarity protein role in cell survival

April 27, 2017

Cell survival is dependent upon regulation of numerous proteins, both cytosolic and membrane bound. Reporting in Nature Communications, Mukhtar Ahmed, Ph.D., and Ian Macara, Ph.D., identified an unexpected link between cell survival and the polarized delivery of proteins to the surface of mammary epithelial cells.

Vanderbilt’s Pietenpol joins Sledge as a Chief Scientific Advisor for Susan G. Komen

April 7, 2017

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and director of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), has been named a Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) for the nonprofit breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen. She joins George Sledge Jr., M.D., professor of Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center, in the CSA role, including responsibility for guiding the Komen Scientific Advisory Board. The Scientific Advisory Board, whose members are global leaders in research, clinical practice and patient advocacy, helps guide Komen’s research programs and priorities.

A molecular clue to longevity

April 7, 2017

Understanding the processes that regulate aging is crucial to potentially increasing longevity and enhancing quality of life. Using the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae), Christopher Lord, Ph.D., Ophir Ospovat and Susan Wente, Ph.D., demonstrated that accumulation of tRNA (transfer RNA) in the nucleus increased replicative life span. These results were published this month in the journal RNA.

Fighting fungal infections

April 7, 2017

The fungal pathogen Candida albicans causes diseases ranging from topical infections such as athlete’s foot and oral thrush to life-threatening systemic infections. Increasing incidence of infections and drug resistance support the need for new therapeutics. Now, Galina Lepesheva, Ph.D., and colleagues report the catalytic properties, ligand-binding profiles and inhibition of activity of C. albicans CYP51 by clinical antifungal drugs and by an antifungal drug candidate, VT-1161.

Vanderbilt study finds natural chemical helps brain adapt to stress

March 30, 2017

A natural signaling molecule that activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain plays a critical role in stress-resilience — the ability to adapt to repeated and acute exposures to traumatic stress, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The findings in a mouse model could have broad implications for the potential treatment and prevention of mood and anxiety disorders, including major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they reported this week in the journal Nature Communications. “The study suggests that deficiencies in natural cannabinoids could result in a predisposition to developing PTSD and depression,” said Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry and the paper’s corresponding author.