SciBites: Week of Oct 31st

SciBites: Week of Oct 31st

Addressing challenges in neglected tropical disease research

Recently published by PLOS, the Good Clinical Practice article collection provides tools for researchers who investigate neglected tropical diseases – a group of infectious diseases that primarily affect people living in poverty in tropical and subtropical countries. The articles share experiences, lessons learned and practical tools developed during clinical research on these diseases in Africa and Asia. Researchers can find proposed solutions, guidelines and best practices, as well as resources for developing and implementing standard operating procedures for clinical research in low-resource settings.

Cholesterol helps proteins pair up

Cholesterol may act as a selective glue that binds proteins into paired structures that enable human cells to respond to outside signals. The authors of the new study used a protein known as chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) to run computer simulations that examined how the protein might pair up to form two-protein structures. The simulations revealed that CXCR4 requires cholesterol in order to pair up properly. Cholesterol molecules selectively “glue” specific regions of two CXCR4 molecules to each other, forming a structure that can sense and transmit external signals.

What are the risk factors for stunted growth in childhood?

An analysis of 137 developing countries conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that the leading risk factor for stunted growth in childhood is being born at term but small for gestational age. Environmental risk factors (e.g., poor water quality) had the second largest impact on stunting globally and in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the East Asia and Pacific region. Meanwhile, risk factors related to child nutrition and infection were the second leading cause of childhood stunting in Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Other risk factors included poor sanitation and diarrhea. This global study relied on approximations, and analysis was limited to risk factors with known statistical associations with stunting and country-level exposure data.

Image Credit: Böckmann et al.

Author

Jen is the Editorial Media Manager at PLOS. Before her time at PLOS, she's worked in broadcast news, radio and online media.

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