Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Research May Lead to New Drugs for Heart Disease, Other Ailments

GUELPH, Ontario - September 09, 2013 - University of Guelph News Release - New and improved drugs against a wide range of human diseases may be a step closer through new research by University of Guelph scientists.

Guelph physics professors Vladimir Ladizhansky and Leonid Brown say they have perfected ways to determine the structure of large proteins found in cell membranes throughout the body.

Their work may help drug companies and other researchers zero in on new drug targets and design better drugs for ailments ranging from heart disease to eye and kidney problems.

Their research appears in a new paper published this week in Nature Methods.

The U of G team has demonstrated a new way of looking at structures of cell membrane proteins using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. NMR shows molecular structure by detecting magnetic spins and interactions of atomic nuclei.

These complex molecules in membranes perform many important functions, including relaying signals, passing substances in and out of cells, and governing immune responses. They account for about 40 per cent of all proteins in the body.

About half of all drugs target these proteins, said Brown.

“Membrane proteins are primary drug targets for so many diseases.”

But out of almost 100,000 known protein structures, only about 400 membrane proteins have been mapped so far. These molecules are complex and hard to work with, said Ladizhansky, who holds a Canada Research Chair in biophysics.

Normally researchers use X-rays to look at protein structure. But that method often distorts the molecules through crystallization and doesn’t allow researchers to study them in their natural state.

Now the Guelph scientists have perfected a reliable solid-state NMR method to study molecules embedded in lipids, as they normally exist in membranes.

Knowing protein structure helps researchers understand how molecules work, Ladizhansky said. “The impact on drug design is huge. It’s hard to create new drugs without knowing structures.”

Drug companies now use high-throughput screening processes to plow through candidate molecules, he said. That’s complicated, time-consuming and costly.

“If you know structures, you open the way for rational drug design.”

The Guelph researchers will use the technique to study medically relevant proteins.

Brown, a biophysicist, has looked at aquaporins that regulate movement of water in and out of cells throughout the body, from kidneys to eyes.

“They are extremely important in fluid balance, and are associated with many diseases,” he said.

He and Ladizhansky also plan to study a membrane receptor protein that helps the body to bind caffeine and regulates blood vessels in the heart.

This research was funded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, and National Research Foundation of Korea (Global Research Network Program).

Monday, September 9, 2013

Safety Advisory - Carbon Monoxide: Beware the Silent Killer

Technical Standards and Safety Authority Issues Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Safety Warning

TORONTO, September 9, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario's public safety regulator, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), is reminding the public of carbon monoxide (CO) safety tips following two recent CO-related fatalities.

An 11-year-old boy was found dead from CO poisoning in the family vehicle at the Lodge Louise campground in Parry Sound on Saturday, August 31. He'd opted to sleep in the family van rather than the tent. A propane-fueled cooler was operating in the back of the van with all but one of the vehicle's windows closed because of mosquitoes.

On Sunday, September 1, an 84-year-old man was found dead and his wife in critical condition as a result of CO poisoning while at their cottage in Armour, northeast of Burk's Falls. A propane-fueled refrigerator is suspected to be the source of the CO.

"These are sad and tragic incidents that could have been prevented," said John Marshall, Director of TSSA's Fuels Safety Program. "Awareness of CO safety risks is your best protection," added Mr. Marshall.

STEP 1: - Eliminate CO at the source. Follow manufacturer's installation and operating instructions. Get your fuel-burning appliances and equipment inspected by a certified technician who works for a TSSA-registered heating contractor. For a list of registered heating contractors, ask your fuel supplier or call TSSA toll-free at 1-877-682-TSSA (8772).

STEP 2: - Ensure your home and cottage have certified CO alarms. They will warn you of rising CO levels, giving you time to take potentially life-saving action. For proper installation locations, follow manufacturer instructions or ask your local fire department.

STEP 3: - Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. They are similar to the flu - nausea, headache, burning eyes, confusion and drowsiness - except there is no fever. If they appear, immediately get everyone, including pets, outside to fresh air and call 911 and/or your local fire department.

TSSA encourages the public to get the right facts about CO safety risks, the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in North America, by visiting cosafety.ca. The more you know, the better you can practice CO safety and ensure you and your family don't become victims of CO poisoning.

About TSSA

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) is Ontario's public safety regulator dedicated to enhancing public safety. TSSA is mandated by the Government of Ontario and regulates the safety of amusement devices, boilers and pressure vessels, elevating devices, fuels, operating engineers, ski lifts, and upholstered and stuffed articles throughout the province. Its range of safety services includes public education and consumer information, certification, licensing and registration, engineering design review, inspections, investigations, safety management consultation, and enforcement and prosecution activities. The organization's vision is to be a valued advocate and recognized authority in public safety.

Friday, September 6, 2013

World Renowned Expert on Global Ageing Speaks Tonight at Sheridan about "The Longevity Revolution"

OAKVILLE, Ontario, September 6, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - Dr. Alexandre Kalache, MD, PhD, President of the International Longevity Centre in Brazil and former Director of the Global Ageing Programme at the World Health Organization (WHO) will present a free, one-hour lecture at Sheridan on September 6.

Dr. Kalache will speak about the unprecedented demographic shift being felt worldwide that has resulted from increased life expectancy and the forecasted doubling -- over the next four years -- of the proportion of older people in society. His talk will explore how different sectors are responding to this phenomenon and suggest policies that need to be put into place to ensure that population ageing becomes a force for positive change on a global scale.

The lecture is being given to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC), which conducts applied research to create innovative strategies to improve the quality of life for older adults and their families.

Interactive exhibits, featuring some of the applied research SERC has conducted over the past ten years on everything from the use of smells to interact with memories, using dance as a health promotion strategy, and the creation of mobile apps and digital 'brain gyms' will be on display. While the event is free, contributions to SERC's ongoing educational outreach activities would be welcomed.

What: SERC 10th Anniversary Celebration & Lecture by Dr. Alexandre Kalache
When: Friday, September 6, 2013
Where: Sheridan College, 1430 Trafalgar Road, Oakville, Ontario

6:00 PM: Interactive displays, Sheldon Levy Centre (J wing) & SERC (K wing)
7:00 PM: One-hour lecture by Dr. Alexandre Kalache, Macdonald Heaslip Hall (Bwing)
8:00 PM: Interactive displays, Sheldon Levy Centre (J wing) & SERC (K wing)- For the Public