The Scripps Research Institute - At The Forefront

January 2014

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Unlocking the Key to a Deadly Virus

The Nipah virus is an emerging pathogen found in Southeast Asia. Its initial outbreak in humans in 1997 has been followed by yearly outbreaks with increasing mortality rates. Lethality has increased from 40% initially to 70% and, in some cases, even 100%. There are no therapeutics for the virus and no vaccines for humans.

However, researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), led by TSRI Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire, have now solved the structure of a key protein in the Nipah virus,
which could pave the way for the development of a much-needed antiviral drug.

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The Nipah virus

The discovery of the structure of a key protein in the Nipah virus (above) could pave the way for the development of a much-needed antiviral drug. (Image by Karinne Noah.)

At TSRI, we find ways to treat new pathogens like the deadly Nipah virus, as well as long-standing diseases like cancer that affect millions around the world. Start 2014 off right by supporting our groundbreaking research.

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Barbara J. Mason

TSRI Professor Barbara J. Mason. (Photo by Dave Freeman.)

milestones in medical science:
A Safe Way to Treat Alcohol Dependence

About eight and a half-million Americans are thought to have alcohol dependence, yet each year only a tiny fraction of them are prescribed treatment for the condition, due in part to the limitations of existing drugs. About one out of 25 deaths worldwide is attributable to alcohol misuse.

A team of TSRI researchers, led by Barbara J. Mason, co-director of the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research at TSRI, has discovered that the inexpensive generic drug gabapentin, which is already widely prescribed for epilepsy and some kinds of pain,
appears to safely and effectively treat alcohol dependence.

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Joseph Kissil

TSRI Associate Professor Joseph Kissil. (Photo by James McEntee.)

Other News:
A Potential New Drug for Inherited Cancer

Neurofibromatosis type 2 is an inherited type of cancer caused by mutations in the anti-tumor gene NF2 that leads to tumors of the auditory nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain. It has no known cure.

However, scientists at Scripps Florida, led by TSRI Associate Professor Joseph Kissil, found that a new drug candidate – known as FRAX97 –
slowed the proliferation and progression of Neurofibromatosis type 2 tumor cells in animal models.

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Where there's a will, there's a way

60% of Americans don't have a valid will. This year, make a New Year's resolution to ensure your estate is divided according to your wishes. With the help of TSRI's Will Planning Wizard, the process is easy. The Wizard does not create a will or a legal document. Instead, it guides you in collecting and organizing your thoughts, information and documents before you visit your attorney. By providing a well-written will, you can save your heirs a lot of money and hassle. Get started here.

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facts & figures

263 people were infected with the Nipah virus in India and Bangladesh between 2001 and 2012, resulting in 196 deaths – a mortality rate of 74.5%.

The Scripps Research Institute

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