Researchers hope to hijack a natural process called RNA interference to block the production of proteins linked to disease and treat medical conditions for which conventional drugs do not work, including cancer, heart disease, HIV and Parkinson’s disease.
In a new state-of-the-art lab at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, components of ribosomes – tiny biological machines that make new proteins and play a vital role in gene expression and antibiotic treatments – form crystals in a liquid solution.
Signs at the lab's entryway warn of the potential for contamination – these delicate samples can be damaged by human touch, a sneeze or a dust particle.
A new screening program will allow researchers to quickly confirm whether precious biological samples yield useful information when struck by the intense X-ray pulses at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).
Last year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry – shared by Stanford School of Medicine Professor Brian Kobilka and Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University – recognized groundbreaking research in G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs are embedded in cell membranes. They interact with signaling molecules outside of cells and trigger responses within cells.