Research Report: Computers aid in design of anti-flu virus proteins

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

by Lynne Friedmann

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have used computational methods to design new antiviral proteins not found in nature, but capable of targeting specific surfaces of flu virus molecules.

Protein surfaces have many crevices and bulges at the atomic scale. The challenge is to identify amino acid side chains that “fit” — both in shape and in chemical properties, such as electrostatic charge — into these surfaces.

The scientists focused on a section of flu virus that helps the virus invade cells of the human respiratory tract. Protein structures were taken apart and observations made of how these disembodied sections interacted with a target surface. This information was then used to refine the computer-generated designs.

Additional studies are now required to see if such designed proteins can help in diagnosing, preventing, or treating viral illness. Findings appear in the journal Science. News release at

Mimicking human tissue

A new biomaterial designed for repairing damaged human tissue may prove more compatible with native human tissue than the patches available today.

Using a new biofabrication technique, researchers at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering created three-dimensional scaffolds with well-defined patterns of any shape for tissue engineering by using precisely controlled mirrors and a computer-projection system to shine light on a solution of new cells and polymers. Because the new biomaterial does not wrinkle up when it is stretched, the hope is future biopatches used to repair damaged heart walls, blood vessels and skin will be more compatible with patient tissue.

Findings appear in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. News release at

Radar network is world’s largest

A network of high-frequency radar systems designed for mapping ocean surface currents has made possible real-time data collection and analysis of coastal ocean dynamics along the U.S. West Coast to aid in search-and-rescue, oil spill response and maritime transportation operations.

The network has grown over the last decade from a few radar installations to what is now considered the largest network of its kind in the world consisting of 78 operational sites that cover approximately 150 kilometers (90 miles) offshore and 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) of shoreline. Data generated by this network is managed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD.

Scientists have known for years that ocean currents at the water’s surface are governed by a complex combination of factors including coastal tides, winds, Earth’s rotation, and large-scale phenomena (such as the California Current), but the contributions of these forces are location specific and up until now have been difficult to predict. By having an extensive radar network in place, detailed coastal surface circulation and ocean dynamics can be resolved as never before — kilometers in space and hourly in time — as well as provide long-term, high-quality records of ocean climate signals. News release at

Related posts:

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  2. Research Report: Stress signal in cancer cells aids tumor growth
  3. Research Report: Nanoparticles improve survival after blood loss
  4. Research Report: Study may help in studying atmosphere
  5. Research Report: A ‘twist’ found in tumor metastasis

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Posted by Staff on Jun 1, 2011. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Health & Science, Research Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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