Focus on fats

Oct 12, 2011

Almost everyone knows that fats are the culprits in expanding waistlines and killer diseases, but scientific understanding of the roles of "lipids" -- fats and oils -- inside cells in the body got short shrift until launch of a major research project that is the topic of the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN). The C&EN article focuses on a massive effort, little-known outside the scientific community, called the Lipid Metabolites and Pathways Strategy (LIPID MAPS).

C&EN Senior Editor Celia Henry Arnaud explains that MAPS is a 10-year, $35 million effort sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Now winding down, LIPID MAPS's goals included identifying and measuring the complete complement of lipids within cells and gaining insight into their role in passing along the biochemical signals that orchestrate cellular functions.

The article describes a task in some ways more daunting that the well-known human genome project, since the number of lipids inside may, by some estimates, exceed the number of genes. C&EN discusses the technology being used in research on lipids, and explains how LIPID MAPS has fostered emergence of a new field of science, lipidomics. With lipids central to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases, the new knowledge may have far-reaching applications in medicine and health care.

Explore further: Implantable 'artificial pancreas' could help diabetes patients control their blood sugar

More information: "Lipids Take Charge" pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/89/8941cover.html

Related Stories

Researcher find fats galore in human plasma

Oct 14, 2010

Human blood is famously fraught with fats; now researchers have a specific idea of just how numerous and diverse these lipids actually are. A national research team, led by scientists at the University of California, San ...

Chemists get grip on slippery lipids

Aug 30, 2007

The ability of the body's cells to correctly receive and convey signals is crucial to good health. Lipids, or fats, play a critical role in this regulation by providing spaces for proteins to gather and network. They are ...

'At-TRIB(1)-uting' a gene a new function in the liver

Nov 15, 2010

Specific, relatively uncommon variations at a region of human chromosome 8 have recently been linked to fat (lipid) levels in the blood that decrease an individual's risk of atherosclerosis (a disease of the major arterial ...

Recommended for you

Video: This town has been on fire for 50 years

3 hours ago

In 1962, an underground fire started in the coal-mining town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Fifty-three years later, that fire still burns. In this week's episode of Reactions, we explain the history and science ...

Genetic switch detects TNT

5 hours ago

Cleaning-up post-war explosive chemicals could get cheaper and easier, using a new genetic 'switch' device, being developed by scientists at the University of Exeter to detect damaging contaminants, such ...

Why Matisse's bright yellow pigments fade to beige

6 hours ago

An international team of scientists led by Jennifer Mass, Winterthur Museum's senior scientist and an affiliated University of Delaware faculty member, has announced new findings on why a bright yellow pigment ...

Killer sea snail a target for new drugs

23 hours ago

University of Queensland pain treatment researchers have discovered thousands of new peptide toxins hidden deep within the venom of just one type of Queensland cone snail.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.