Biological network assists cells in helping the body to adapt to stresses on health

April 01, 2023 | Biology

The University of Utah Health research team sought to explain how our bodies and senses respond to everyday constant demands. They were able to discover a wide network of interactions that exhibited how cells adjust in real time in response to day-to-day stressors.

Jared Rutter, Ph.D, one of the corresponding authors of the study, stated that their discovery displayed how nature has evolved to ‘drug’ its very own proteins and pathways. These findings implied the making of better therapeutics following nature's lead. Atavistik Bio, a biotechnology company co-founded by Rutter, is already leveraging on this understanding by speeding up drug discovery for metabolic diseases and cancer. 

The newly-discovered biological network seems to be a regulatory layer in cells that comes from unexpected sources. Composed of intermediate products of the chemical reactions brought upon by metabolism, metabolites and proteins, this web does environmental monitoring and signals the cells to adapt when needed. These protein-metabolite interactions shift the gears of metabolic operations, resulting in the breakdown of nutrients and steadying the course.

Keven Hicks, Ph.D, the study’s first author, developed MIDAS. It is a technology that displays the enormity of the protein-metabolite interactome which acts like an interface between environmental cues and cell metabolism. An initial analysis of 33 human proteins involved in the conversion of carbs to fuel uncovered 830 interactions with metabolites. Given that there are thousands of proteins, the full scale of the network is yet to be realized. 


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There’s more to know about the extent of these interactions as the research pushes for understanding of the biological network in new directions. Seeing how the interruption of metabolic processes leads to diseases and illnesses, this study shed light on what could be the root causes of diseases and the development of therapeutic approaches to bring the derailed metabolism back on track.

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