Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Researchers Find Unique Peptide with Therapeutic Potential

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Bookmark and Share
UTSW researchers identify Tat-beclin 1 against cancers, neurological disorders, and infectious diseases.

UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have synthesized a peptide that shows potential for pharmaceutical development into agents for treating infections, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer through an ability to induce a cell-recycling process called autophagy.

Autophagy is a fundamental recycling process in which intracellular enzymes digest unneeded and broken parts of the cell into their individual building blocks, which are then reassembled into new parts.

The role of autophagy is crucial both in keeping cells healthy and in enabling them to fight different diseases. Physician scientists in UT Southwestern’s Center for Autophagy Research are deciphering how to manipulate the autophagy process in an effort to disrupt the progression of disease and promote health.

In their latest findings reported online in the journal Nature, Center researchers were able to synthesize a peptide called Tat-beclin 1, which induces the autophagy process.

Mice treated with Tat-beclin-1 were resistant to several infectious diseases, including West Nile virus and another mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya that is common to Asia, Africa, and India.

In additional experiments, the team demonstrated that human cells treated with the peptide were resistant to HIV infection in a laboratory setting.

“Because autophagy plays such a crucial role in regulating disease, autophagy-inducing agents such as the Tat–beclin 1 peptide may have potential for pharmaceutical development and the subsequent prevention and treatment of a broad range of human diseases,” said Dr. Beth Levine, Director of the Center for Autophagy Research and senior author of the study.

Dr. Levine, Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology, is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern.

Disruption of the autophagy process is implicated in a wide variety of conditions including aging, and diseases, including cancers, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and infectious diseases such as those caused by West Nile and HIV viruses.

UT Southwestern has applied for a patent on Tat-beclin-1. Peptides are strings of amino acids found in proteins. The Tat-beclin 1 peptide was derived from sequences in beclin 1, one of the first known proteins in mammals found to be essential for autophagy, a finding that was made by Dr. Levine’s laboratory.

Her research has since demonstrated that defects in beclin 1 contribute to many types of disease. Conversely, beclin 1 activity and the autophagy pathway appear to be important for protection against breast, lung, and ovarian cancers, as well as for fighting off viral and bacterial infections, and for protecting individuals from neurodegenerative diseases and aging.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the HHMI, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research-Earth and Life Sciences Open Program, Cancer Research United Kingdom, and a Robert A. Welch Foundation Award.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

UT Southwestern Biochemist Receives NIH Early Independence Award
Dr. William Israelsen studies on hibernation may aid the fight against cancer.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Researchers Discover Molecule that Accelerates Tissue Regeneration
Newly discovered molecule, SW033291 accelerate cell recovery following bone marrow transplants.
Friday, June 12, 2015
UT Southwestern Faculty Members Named HHMI Investigators
Appointment of Dr. Kim Orth and Dr. Joshua Mendell to HHMI.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Scientists Identify Key Receptors Behind Development of AML
Blocking ITIM-receptor signaling in combination with conventional therapies may represent a novel strategy for AML treatment.
Saturday, May 02, 2015
Study Reveals Molecular Genetic Mechanisms Driving Breast Cancer Progression
The findings are published online and in the journal Molecular Cell.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
New Cyclotron Facility at UT Southwestern
Expands research opportunities and imaging capabilities for detecting, tracking cancer.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Acetate Supplements Shown to Speed Up Cancer Growth
A major compound produced in the gut by host bacteria.
Friday, February 20, 2015
MAGE Genes Provide Insight into Optimizing Chemotherapy
UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have identified a new biomarker that could help identify patients who are more likely to respond to certain chemotherapies.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Researchers Identify ‘Achilles heel’ in Metabolic Pathway
Achilles heel could lead to new lung cancer treatments.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Study Links Deficiency of Cellular Housekeeping Gene with Aggressive Forms of Breast Cancer
Research team studies genes involved in the autophagy process and their roles in cancer, aging, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Targeting The Cell’s ‘Biological Clock’
Researchers target the cell’s ‘biological clock’ in promising new therapy to kill cancer cells, shrink tumor growth.
Monday, January 05, 2015
Whole-Genome Sequencing Successfully Identifies Cancer-Related Mutations
UT Southwestern Medical Center cancer researchers have demonstrated that whole-genome sequencing can be used to identify patients’ risk for hereditary cancer.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Scientists Identify New and Beneficial Function of Endogenous Retroviruses
Researchers found that ERV play a critical role in the body’s immune defense against common bacterial and viral pathogens.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Signaling Mechanism Could Be Target For Survival, Growth Of Tumor Cells In Brain Cancer
Non-canonical EGFR signalling shown to make glioblastoma tumor cells more resistant to chemotherapy treatment.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Cancer Researchers Identify Gene Mutations and Process for How Kidney Tumors Develop
Researchers have identified more than 3,000 new mutations by using next generation gene sequencing techniques.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Scientific News
Tolerant Immune System Increases Cancer Risk
Researchers have found that individuals with high immunoCRIT ratios may have an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
Developing a Gel that Mimics Human Breast for Cancer Research
Scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham have been funded to develop a gel that will match many of the biological structures of human breast tissue, to advance cancer research and reduce animal testing.
New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss From a Mitochondrial Disease
NIH-funded study shows success in targeting mitochondrial DNA in mice.
Predictive Model for Breast Cancer Progression
Biomedical engineers have demonstrated a proof-of-principle technique that could give women and their oncologists more personalized information to help them choose options for treating breast cancer.
Specific Variations in RNA Splicing Linked to Breast Cancer
Researchers have identified cellular changes that may play a role in converting normal breast cells into tumors. Targeting these changes could potentially lead to therapies for some forms of breast cancer.
Gene Expression: A Snapshot of Stem Cell Development
New genes found that regulate development of stem cells.
Assessing Cancer Patient Survival and Drug Sensitivity
RNA editing events another way to investigate biomarkers and therapy targets.
Editing Genes to Create HIV Killers
Seattle scientists have managed to genetically transform human cells in the lab from HIV targets to HIV killers, and the technique could have implications for cancer and other diseases.
Researchers Disguise Drugs As Platelets to Target Cancer
Researchers have for the first time developed a technique that coats anticancer drugs in membranes made from a patient’s own platelets.
A New Single-Molecule Tool to Observe Enzymes at Work
A team of scientists at the University of Washington and the biotechnology company Illumina have created an innovative tool to directly detect the delicate, single-molecule interactions between DNA and enzymatic proteins.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos