How Viagra puts a brake on a master growth regulator to treat heart disease
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IMAGE: A protein called mTOR receives information from these signals and then directs the cell to take action. And now, with data from cells and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine… view more 

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Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine

When normal cells grow, divide or do any job in the body, they do so in response to a whole slew of internal sensors that measure nutrients and energy supply, and environmental cues that inform what happens outside the cell. A protein called mTOR receives information from these signals and then directs the cell to take action. And now, with data from cells and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have uncovered a long-sought built-in molecular switch that behaves much like a car-brake–slowing mTOR’s action–and in this particular study prevents overworked hearts from enlarging.

The researchers report their findings on Jan. 30 in Nature, and say their discovery has potential implications for manipulating the molecular switch to treat not only heart disease–the focus of the current study–but also diabetes, kidney and lung disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Nature

The protein mTOR, which stands for mechanistic target of rapamycin, has long been a focus of scientists because it is so important to normal cells yet also plays

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