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Biological network helps body adapt to stresses on health

Picture of Jared Rutter on top of a red background

This story was originally published on @TheU.

By Julie Kiefer - associate director, science communications, University of Utah Health

Every minute of every day, our body adapts to meet the needs of each moment. When we binge on carbs, exercise or become sick, chemical reactions inside our cells switch on, slow down or shift strategy so that we have the energy and strength we need.

All this happens without us knowing it, perhaps explaining why so little is understood about how the body senses and responds to these constant demands. Seeking answers to this question, scientists at University of Utah Health led research that opens up a whole new world within our cells. Their study, published in Science, uncovers a vast network of interactions that suggest how cells adjust in real time to withstand stresses on our health.

“We’re discovering how nature has evolved to ‘drug’ its own proteins and pathways,” says Jared Rutter, distinguished professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Utah and the study’s corresponding author. “By following nature’s lead, we’re learning how to make better therapeutics.”

These findings—and the technology that made them possible—have become the basis for the biotechnology company Atavistik Bio, co-founded by Rutter. The company is leveraging this new understanding to accelerate drug discovery for metabolic diseases and cancer.

At a more fundamental level, Rutter says, the advance deepens knowledge about how cells and our bodies work.

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