New method screens natural compounds

UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering researchers have invented computational tools to decode and determine whether natural compounds collected in oceans and forests are new or have already been described and are, therefore, not patentable. In particular, the advance enables the rapid characterization of ring-shaped nonribosomal peptides (NRPs), a class of pharmaceutically important natural compounds.

NRPs often serve as chemical defenses for the bacteria that manufacture them and have an unparalleled track record in pharmacology dating back to the discovery of penicillin.

Currently, however, it is difficult, time-consuming and costly to determine the molecular structure of NRPs. The new UCSD algorithms quickly make sense of the flood of tiny peptide fragments generated by mass spectrometers that blast nonribosomal peptides apart and determine their sizes. The study appears online in the journal Nature Methods.

Newly discovered protein’s role in immunity
Much is known of the cascade of signals required for immune-cell development. Now, researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) report the discovery of a critical signal in T-cell development that has remained elusive.

Researchers made the discovery while looking for proteins produced in the thymus and dubbed the new protein Themis. To gain insights into its function, mice were engineered that lacked the corresponding gene. The result: Themis-deficient mice had fewer mature T cells compared with normal mice. The finding appears in Nature Immunology.

The new science of learning
Of all the qualities that distinguish humans from other species, how we learn is one of the most significant. From collaborative efforts in neuroscience, psychology, education and machine learning has emerged a new “science of learning” that is reshaping the concept of learning.

Research at the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC) at UCSD and the University of Washington points to three principles guiding human learning:

- Learning is computational (infants and children possess powerful computational skills that allow them to infer structured models of their environment);

- Learning is social (supported by child-robot interaction studies that show learning depends on how social and responsive the robot is); and

- Learning is supported by brain circuits linking perception and action (borne out by discoveries in the brain systems that govern perception and production of actions).

The findings appear in the journal Science.

Related posts:

  1. Safer stem cell method achieved
  2. Discovery could lead to lifelong flu vaccine
  3. Research Report: Molecular defect affects hearing
  4. Research Roundup: Basic research gets financial boost from major grants
  5. Research Report: Discovery sheds light on mysterious glow of sea

Short URL:

Posted by marylajolla on Jul 23, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • New Rancho Santa Fe Library Branch Manager welcomes community input
    Rancho Santa Fe Library’s new Branch Manager Haley Kwon has been charmed by the village’s “sweet, down-home” character, the simple pleasure of visiting the local library and people’s enjoyment of a slower speed of time. “It’s a small town and the library is a place for people to connect,” Kwon said. “People have a different sense of time here, they come in t […]
  • Robotics booming at Rancho Santa Fe School
    By Karen Billing At R. Roger Rowe School, 44 percent of first graders are participating in the robotics program this year. The school is fielding 44 robotics teams, including 31 percent of second grade, 23 percent of third grade, 35 percent of fourth grade and 39 percent of fifth grade. In the middle school, there are two FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and fi […]
  • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices honored with Stevie Gold Award
    Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was recently named Startup of the Year in the 2014 American Business Awards, earning the brokerage the Stevie Gold award. The award was presented at the Fairmont Millennium Park Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. “Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is among a select few organizations to be entrusted with the Berkshire Hathaway name,” co […]