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Science & Nature reviews, August 2021 (1)

Here are ChemDiv's reviews on Nature and Science Journal articles. It is the first part of the August reviews. Today we attract your attention to Drug research, Structural Biology, Physiology, and Genetic Engineering.

Drug research

Selkoe, D.J. Treatments for Alzheimer's disease emerge. Science 373, 6555 (2021)

Medicine in developed nations is able to cure a large number of diseases. However, there are few of them, which are fatal or in lacking a disease-modifying treatment. The August issues of the Science contain hopeful articles about treatment or modification of oncology, Alzheimer's disease, HIV. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, memory loss, and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Its diagnosis is a great shock for the patient for the reason of lacking modifying treatment. In their new study, scientists identified the properties of the key proteins that define the neuropathology of that disease. Antibodies that target these proteins are in advanced trials. Moreover, aducanumab, which is a monoclonal antibody that targets aggregated forms of Amyloid beta found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease to reduce its buildup, was recently approved. Therefore, therapies might succeed in modifying Alzheimer's disease symptoms.

Structural biology

Hikichi, Y., Freed, E.O. Maturation of HIV-1. Science 373, 6555 (2021)

The next important medical research concerns the well-known AIDS disease, which is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV-1 particle assembly is driven by the Gag polyprotein precursor, which then triggers the maturation of the virus particle. A special structure called the matrix domain plays a key role in this process. In the new issue of Science researchers report the structure of the matrix domain. The results provide important insights into HIV assembly and may suggest new antiviral strategies that target matrix domains.

Genetic Engineering

Perry, R.B., Ulitsky, I. Therapy based on functional RNA elements. Science 373, 6555 (2021)

Phenylketonuria is an inherited disorder that increases the levels of a substance called phenylalanine in the blood. It can build up to harmful levels in the body, causing intellectual disability and other serious health problems. Neurological effects of this disease can be prevented by dietary therapy, but this is not always straightforward. However, in new research scientists reveal a promising therapeutic based on long non-coding RNA. A non-coding RNA is an RNA molecule that is not translated into a protein. This type of RNA is often dysregulated in disease, making them potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets. So, the group of scientists revealed the biological importance of a long non-coding RNA in phenylketonuria and demonstrated that this molecule can have more promising therapeutic modalities than other RNA.


Taylor, S.R., Ramsamooj, S., Liang, R.J. et al. Dietary fructose improves intestinal cell survival and nutrient absorption. Nature (2021)

New research in the pages of Nature sheds light on the mechanisms of obesity and cancer, connected with fructose consumption. In the Western world agricultural and industrial advances have improved the access to high-fructose sweeteners. Unfortunately, the massive consumption of fructose has contributed to the growing epidemic of obesity and related diseases, and the mechanism that drives these pathologies remains unclear. Researchers show that dietary fructose improves the survival of intestinal cells and increases intestinal villus length in mouse models. Based on this observation, they hypothesized that this increase in absorption would exacerbate weight gain in mice placed on a high-fat diet that contained fructose. And this hypothesis was correct. Therefore, fructose is able to promote cell survival through an allosteric metabolite. This mechanism provides insights into the excess adiposity generated and the promotion of tumor growth by a Western diet, and accordingly the ability to adjust the diet.

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