Prediction Method Could Help Prevent Age-Related Physical Decline
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Throughout human history, people have sought insight into their fates from self-proclaimed psychics and other dubious fortune tellers. Fortunately, scientists are increasingly developing more reliable, data-driven ways to predict the future. For instance, IRP researchers recently showed that an assessment of the cellular batteries that power our muscles can predict the deterioration of physical abilities in older adults.
IRP Research Challenges Long-Held Ideas About Muscle Structure
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
It’s not every day an accidental observation overturns 100 years of biological knowledge. But that’s what happened when IRP Stadtman Investigator Brian Glancy, Ph.D., noticed something funny while reviewing high-definition 3D videos of muscle cells.
“To be honest, you could almost call this study an accident,” he says.
Dr. Glancy, who leads the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)’s Muscle Energetics Lab, often uses the high-powered microscopes available through the NHLBI Electron Microscopy Core to study how energy is distributed through skeletal muscle cells — the ones that control voluntary movement — when they expand and contract.
Although he was focused on examining the cells’ energy-producing mitochondria, he could also see the other structures inside them, including the long, tube-like structures called myofibrils that are involved in muscle contraction. As he advanced the video and traveled down the length of the muscle, it looked to him like the myofibrils were changing shape.
Chronic Stress Diminishes Energy Production in the Brain
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
When power lines come down and the electricity shuts off, it’s understandably a worrying situation. As it turns out, people may become anxious not just when their homes are cut off from energy, but also when their brains find themselves short on power, according to recent IRP research done in mice.
While the misfortune of a blackout is temporary, many people experience chronic stress that bothers them continuously. In some individuals, repetitive stressors can contribute to the development of debilitating anxiety that interferes with everyday life. Intriguingly, past research has found evidence that problems with the biological batteries that power our cells, called mitochondria, might be involved in anxiety disorders, as well as some other psychiatric illnesses.
Treatment Approach Could Combat Obesity and Its Consequences
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
When your phone or laptop is low on power, you simply connect it to a charger and find the nearest electrical outlet, but the process of restoring lagging energy production in our cells is not nearly as simple. However, a new IRP study has identified a promising approach for doing just that, which could lead to new treatments for obesity and related metabolic ailments like heart disease and diabetes.
Biomarker Discovery Could Aid Diagnosis and Therapeutic Development
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Our cells can’t afford to be wasteful, so they prefer to recycle broken components. However, when the mitochondria that provide their energy are damaged beyond repair, cells may have no choice but to throw them out. New IRP research suggests that more of this mitochondrial debris floats in the blood of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, potentially providing an easy, cost-effective way to diagnose or even possibly predict the illness.
Inhibiting Energy Production Pathway Delays Tumor Formation in Mice
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Despite the common misconception that sugary treats send kids bouncing off the walls, fat actually provides more than twice as much energy as sugar and other carbohydrates. This energy can be a double-edged sword, fueling not just healthy cells but also cancerous ones. A new IRP study in mice suggests that reducing the body’s ability to burn fat molecules for energy could slow the formation of tumors, potentially extending the lives of individuals with strong genetic predispositions to cancer.
‘Silicon Valley Nobel’ Recognizes Groundbreaking Parkinson’s Disease Research
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
It can be easy to underestimate the value of so-called ‘basic science’ that doesn’t appear, upon first glance, to have clear therapeutic applications. One of the hidden strengths of this sort of work is its ability to link seemingly disparate areas of scientific inquiry by identifying commonalities between the structure or behavior of different biological molecules. By following these unexpected connections over the course of his career, IRP senior investigator Richard Youle, Ph.D., has made critical discoveries about Parkinson’s disease — research that this year earned him the prestigious Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Decreased Energy Production Could Contribute to Cancer-Related Fatigue
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
We all know the feeling of being wiped out after a hard workout or a grueling day at the office — you just want to flop down on the couch and not move, or even think. For many cancer patients, the treatment for their disease can trigger that sort of physical and mental exhaustion for weeks or months. New IRP research has found evidence linking this phenomenon, known as cancer-related fatigue, to a slow-down in cells’ energy-producing mitochondria.
Study Shows How Molecular Trespasser Gains Entry into Cells’ Energy Producers
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
As a fan of the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons, I’ve witnessed the bumbling Homer Simpson cause several near-meltdowns at the nuclear power plant where he works. Serious problems can arise at such facilities when the wrong person gains access to them, and the same applies to the energy-producing mitochondria that power our cells. A new IRP study has revealed how a protein known to harm neurons gains entry into mitochondria in order to wreak cell-killing havoc.
Annual Event Highlights Contributions of IRP Postdoctoral Fellows
Monday, September 16, 2019
At lunchtime last Wednesday, the NIH Clinical Center’s FAES Terrace echoed with the joyful sounds of scientists nourishing their bodies and their brains. While those stopping by the annual NIH Research Festival poster session could be forgiven for making a beeline straight for the food — including the submissions to this year’s Scientific Directors’ baking competition — once their plates were full, they took advantage of the opportunity to satiate their scientific curiosity as well by checking out the dozens of posters on display.