Health Life

Following the hops of disordered proteins could lead to future treatments of Alzheimer’s disease

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, the University of Milan and Google Research have used machine learning techniques to predict how proteins, particularly those implicated in neurological diseases, completely change their shapes in a matter of microseconds.

They found that when , a implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, adopts a highly disordered shape, it actually becomes less likely to stick together and form the toxic clusters which lead to the death of brain cells.

The results, reported in the journal Nature Computational Science, could aid in the future development of treatments for diseases involving disordered proteins, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

“We are used to thinking of proteins as molecules that fold into well-defined structures: finding out how this process happens has been a major research focus over the last 50 years,” said Professor Michele Vendruscolo from Cambridge’s Centre for Misfolding Diseases, who led the research. “However, about a third of the proteins in our body do not fold, and instead remain in disordered shapes, sort of like noodles in a soup.”

We do not know much about the behavior of these disordered proteins, since traditional methods tend to address the problem of determining static structures, not structures in motion. The approach developed by the researchers harnesses the power of Google’s computer network to generate large numbers of short trajectories. The most common motions show up multiple times in these ‘movies’, making it possible to define the frequencies by which disordered proteins jumps between different shapes.

“By counting these motions, we can predict which states the occupies and how quickly it transitions between them,” said first author Thomas Löhr from Cambridge’s Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry.

The researchers focused their attention on the , a protein

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Feeling Stressed? | NIH News in Health

January 2021






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Ways to Improve Your Well-Being

Have you been feeling more stressed than usual? Many people are during these challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic has many people feeling overwhelmed.

Everyone feels stress sometimes. It’s a natural response to a challenge or demand. Stress can come from the day-to-day pressures of work and family.

But stress is much more than just being busy, explains Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of The Ohio State University, who studies the effects of stress on the body.

“It’s the feeling that you’re overloaded, out of control, and unable to cope,” she says.

Stress can also come from a sudden negative change in your life like a divorce or losing a job. Traumatic events like a major accident, assault, or natural disaster can cause severe stress.

It’s important for your health and well-being to learn how to cope with stress. Researchers are working to understand how stress affects health. They’re also studying ways to relieve stress. These techniques may help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.

Stress and the Body

Stress isn’t always bad. It’s actually a survival response. It helps you leap into action in the face of a threat. Your heart rate speeds up, and you breathe faster as you prepare to fight or run to safety.

Short-term stress can even help you perform—you’re more able to ace an interview or meet a project deadline. But when stress lasts a long time, it may also harm your health. Your body is constantly acting as if it were in immediate danger.

“There’s a really big body of research now that says that chronic stress promotes inflammationHeat, swelling, and redness caused by the body’s

Health Life

Researchers develop a model that predicts whether COVID-19 restrictions have any effect

Danish researchers have used the agent-based technic to construct a model of Northern Jutland, with more than 500,000 individuals. Credit: Kim G. Larsen et. al.

What happens when municipalities in the Copenhagen area experience a COVID-19 flare-up? Would closing the schools have any effect, or would a better choice be directing the parents to work from home? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities worldwide have several times implemented steps to keep the pandemic in check.

Now, researchers from the Department of Computer Science at Aalborg University have come forward with a new agent-based model that can be used as a tool for making even better, informed choices regarding which restrictions to implement.

The background of using agent-based modeling to analyze, predict and control the rapid spreading of COVID-19 is described in the paper Fluid Model-Checking in UPPAAL for COVID-19 published in the distinguished conference proceedings series Lecture Notes in Computer Science.

167 fewer new cases a day

In the new model, the researchers simulate interactions between specific agents or in other words, individuals. Based on data from Statistics Denmark, the Danish Building and Housing Register (BBR), the Central Business Register and the State Serum Institute of Denmark, the researchers have used the agent-based technic to construct a model of Northern Jutland, with more than 500,000 individuals.

The region was placed under lockdown in November due to the fear of spreading the cluster-5 variant of the coronavirus, circulating primarily in farmed minks.

In the model, each individual is assigned a state of health, which is combined with general data on addresses, places of employment, family sizes and commuting patterns to calculate realistic simulations of the mobility patterns of all Northern Jutland inhabitants.

Project head, Professor Kim Guldstrand Larsen, explains that the researchers have simulated the case numbers in the region over

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Staying Safe From Sepsis | NIH News in Health

January 2021






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Preventing Infections and Improving Survival

Your immune system is on patrol every day. It protects your body from bacteria, viruses, and other germs. But if something goes wrong, it can also cause big problems.

Sepsis happens when your body’s response to an infection spirals out of control. Your body releases molecules into the blood called cytokines to fight the infection. But those molecules then trigger a chain reaction.

“Sepsis is basically a life-threatening infection that leads to organ dysfunction,” says Dr. Richard Hotchkiss, who studies sepsis at Washington University in St. Louis.
The most dangerous stage of sepsis is called septic shock. It can cause multiple organs to fail, including the liver, lungs, and kidneys.

Septic shock begins when the body’s response to an infection damages blood vessels. When blood vessels are damaged, your blood pressure can drop very low. Without normal blood flow, your body can’t get enough oxygen.

Almost 1.7 million people in the U.S. develop sepsis every year. Even with modern treatments, it still kills nearly 270,000 of those. Many recover. But some have lifelong damage to the body and brain.

“We can get many people over that first infection that caused the sepsis,” Hotchkiss explains. “But then they’re at risk of dying from a second infection because of their weakened condition.”

Bacterial infections cause most sepsis cases. But sepsis can also result from other infections, including viral infections, such as COVID-19 or the flu (influenza).

Anyone can get sepsis. But certain people are at higher risk, including infants, children, and older adults.

The early symptoms of sepsis are similar to those of many other conditions. These can include fever, chills, rapid breathing or heart