Online gamers invited to tackle rare muscle disorder

Gamers who have helped scientists understand the structure of hundreds of complex proteins by playing an online protein folding game Foldit are being invited to help work out the structure of an abnormal protein that causes a disabling muscle disorder called limb girdle muscular dystrophy. The project hopes to enlist thousands of volunteers from around the world to help determine the shape of the protein that lies at the root of the disease.

Limb girdle muscular dystrophy, or LGMD, is a rare, inherited disorder that primarily affects the muscles of the upper arms and legs. As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for people with LGMD to perform such common activities as lifting objects, standing up from a chair, or climbing stairs. As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly disabling. Currently there is no effective treatment or cure.

Proteins are made of a string of molecules, called amino acids, which are linked together like beads on a string. The sequence of the amino acids determines the folded shape a protein takes, which in turn determines how the protein works. In order for proteins to function properly they must fold into the right shape. If they don’t, they won’t work well, if at all, which can result in disease.

In the new project, which will be launched on Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Day, Friday, Sept. 30, the Foldit players will focus on a protein called dysferlin that is believed to help maintain muscle cells and allow them to recover from injury.

People who inherit genes responsible for one form of LGMD, called LGMD-2B, cannot make normal dysferlin. As a result, they become weaker and weaker as their muscles gradually deteriorate.

The goal of the project is to work out the structure of dysferlin to better understand how it functions and what other proteins it interacts with. This information could lead to better treatments and perhaps a cure. LGMD-2B is a special interest of the Jain Foundation, which was founded by Ajit Jain, whose son has the disease.

Full story can be found from University of Washington website.

BD New Automated ID/AST System Against Antimicrobial Resistance

BD announced the launch of its next generation diagnostic instrument for the rapid identification of bacteria and detection of antimicrobial resistance.

The global health care community is facing unprecedented challenges with the spread of multidrug resistant organisms, and today’s clinical microbiology laboratories are under increasing pressure to provide fast and accurate bacterial identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing  (ID/AST) results to influence clinical decision and outcomes.

The new BD Phoenix™ M50 ID/AST system helps deliver the same rapid, accurate and cost-effective testing as the legacy BD Phoenix™ 100, within a smaller footprint. The system is highly reliable and requires no preventative maintenance, thanks to innovative materials and engineering techniques employed during its development.  In addition to being robust, the system offers multiple languages, facilitating even broader adoption in laboratories around the world.

The new system benefits from the demonstrated performance of the legacy BD Phoenix 100 system for detecting current and emerging resistances as well as the extended testing capabilities provided by BD Phoenix™ Emerge AST panel with 136 wells.

The BD Phoenix M50 system also offers integration with multiple other analyzers, including the BD BACTEC™ and BD Bruker™ MALDI Biotyper systems, through BD EpiCenter™ middleware connectivity that enables data traceability and security, paperless workflow and flexible communication capabilities to deliver the efficiencies expected by laboratories of all sizes.  The BD Phoenix M50 system joins the overall BD diagnostics portfolio to help drive the transformation of microbiology.

A press release is available from BD website.