Small-angle scattering techniques offer new insight towards the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

Aggregates of amyloid beta- (Aβ-)peptide, known as fibrils, are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease and play a key role in the sequence of events leading to dementia symptoms. Using small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering, researchers from Lund University and the Paul Scherrer Institut have determined the detailed structure of Aβ42-fibril, obtaining important information to design future therapeutics.

Metals with memory

When metallic objects change their shape seemingly without any external influence and only according to the will of their owners, this at first sounds like something only comic superheroes like Magneto and Ironman could do. However, the idea from those comics has a real-world manifestation in existing materials called magnetic shape memory alloys (MSMAs). Moreover, they have potential applications e.g. in robotics or medical devices.

Neutron reflectometry reveals SARS-CoV-2 spike protein induces lipid stripping from cell membrane

Scientists at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), the Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS) and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), have published new data on how the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein interacts with mammalian lung cell membranes allowing the viral RNA to enter human cells.

Making the gray cells happy

Depressive disorders are among the most frequent illnesses worldwide. The causes are complex and to date only partially understood. The trace element lithium appears to play a role. Using neutrons of the research neutron source at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), a research team has now proved that the distribution of lithium in the brains of depressive people is different from the distribution found in healthy humans.

Research with neutrons for better mRNA vaccines

In December 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use across the EU, marking a crucial step forward in the fight against coronavirus. The development of this COVID-19 vaccine built on important research that was undertaken by Mainz-based biotechnology company, BioNTech, in collaboration with the Jülich Center for Neutron Science (JCNS). Using neutron scattering instruments operated by the JCNS at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Center in Garching, researchers investigated new approaches for the packaging and delivery of the mRNA. Such experiments provide important insights into the relationship between structural properties, biological activity and the vaccine production process, which will help to advance the development of RNA therapeutics and vaccines.