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Medicine Science

Proteins Build "Cages" Around Bacteria 73

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the take-em-on-down-to-the-appendix dept.
ananyo writes "Research in human cells shows that proteins called septins are able to build cages around pathogens to prevent them from infecting other cells. According to the researchers, the newly discovered defense system could lead to new therapies for diseases. The microbes trapped in the cage are later broken down by the cell."
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Proteins Build "Cages" Around Bacteria

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:20PM (#38275880)

    Now the only thing that stands in the way is government red tape.

    Government is bad, blah blah blah. Nevermind that governments are responsible for much of this fundamental research. Through public schools, public institutions and grants. Blah blah blah, shut up.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:23PM (#38275904)

    Yes, program your genes to build cages around cells. What could go wrong with that?

    Well, except for the fact that the majority of cells in the human body aren't, technically, human at all. There are more bacterial cells [scientificamerican.com] than human ones. So, snarky comments aside, that would be extremely dangerous. You might be able to select only dangerous cells, but I very much doubt it. Not genetically, anyways. Anti-bacterial agents need to be targeted specifically, or you can do more harm than good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @01:40AM (#38276922)

    The limitation of evolution is this: each successive version needs to be a slight modification on the previous version. Some forward and backward compatibility is available.

    Way back, we more or less worked as worms. A two layer set of cells shaped as a tube: one set inside the tube, which specialized in taking food in one end, digesting it, and spitting the waste out the other end, and the other outside the tube, protecting the organism, sensing for sources and danger, and working out which way to point. Bilateral symmetry is great for this: You have an advantage over predators since it's equally likely you'll go one way vs. the other, rather than having an obvious preference for, say, left turns. Why not higher orders of symmetry, say trilateral? Because we evolved in a gravity field, so mutations that take advantage of up and down (top-mount legs aren't that useful) tend to get kept while those that prefer left over right don't.

    So why one trachea? Because when we swam, the gill system worked the best. It was more or less self-balancing and redundant where it needed to be: at the oxygen exchangers. Plus it reused the existing tech of single-intake. If you have two mouths, either you're buying twice as many parts just to eat twice as fast (could you even?) or you just lost the ability to eat larger things. So since there was little benefit in two mouths, it got abandoned. A twin-trachea setup would require a more complex (read: easier to break) epiglottis, and have balancing issues. So it got ditched: it cost too much to get rid of the single point of failure.

    Also, having the mouth route to both the esophagus and trachea as another feature: safety! See, food goes in the opening that leads to the esophagus. Now if the food gets stuck, the folks with the trachea and esophagus routed to the mouth have an advantage: they can use the lungs to blow the blockage free. There are other features: cilia move contaminants out of the lungs to get trapped by nasal mucus and routed down to the esophagus: with two mouths, the breathing one would have to get thing all the way out to the outside by itself, and contaminants that entered via the eating mouth could only be kicked out one way: throwing up. So we'd leave a trail of phlegm and vomit for predators to find. Then there's how the sense of smell augments the sense of taste because they share the airway, which again makes you more survivable...

    All the paired items you name derive from the bilateral symmetry modification. They arose on the sides of the worm, and here we are. The brain is rather bilaterally symmetric itself, and quite redundant. You might have noticed the slot in the middle?

    As for one heart: multiple hearts have been tried! The aforementioned worms eventually evolved to have several hearts. Problem is, they're weak, and put together they won't move the needed blood volume at the needed pressure. The single-heart design is simply more optimized: it's lighter for its capacity and you need no complex regulation system to coordinate them to prevent one's mistiming from blowing out the valves on the other.

    Again, if you were designing from scratch, you could do a better design. Whether it can be packed into 46 chromosomes without being cancer-riddled is TBD, of course. But that's more evidence that evolution is at fault: the "small changes a step at a time" plan won over the "rewrite from scratch so it will be better" way, because you had to survive, even in intermediate forms. A lot like software, really.

    BTW, if one of your trachea gets plugged, don't wait a week. You'll be immediately down half your lung capacity, you'll only have one lung with which to blow the chunk out, you'll have to coordinate both sides so you don't blow the chunk out one and into the other, and all the time you wait the bacteria in there are going to be going to town turning anything of you they can eat into more of them. So yeah, things that encourage procrastination might get you killed (read: make you less survivable).

  • The government over the last 40 years has proportionally cut funding to all theoretical and applied science, medicine, and engineering. If BigBiz-Brother is not interested in the research outcome, then no funding comes from BigBiz-Brother. BigBiz-Brother will fund interpretations and falsifications of research results for more corporate-welfare laws. The cure for big-profit diseases is close to impossible (almost accidental) in the present environment, but treatments for big-profit diseases are very innovative, competitive, and highly profitable.

    Presently it is un-American, when corporate-welfare will be adversely impacted, to cure any big-profit diseases ; Hence, the government is not adding much to the deficit for cures that would disrupt the global economy for the plutocrats.

    I heard someone say that poor-people make much better lab-rats for testing expensive treatments.

    Governance of BigBiz-Brother is a possible reality, but not likely for US.
    Governance of US by BigBiz-Brother politician-proxies is a present actuality.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein

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