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Birch bark compound may fight metabolic diseases: Study

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Betulin- A Potential Compound for Treating Hyperlipidemia. Hyperlipidemia is closely related to metabolic diseases, such as atherosclerosis and type II diabetes, which are becoming worldwide problems. Recently, a research team, led by Prof. SONG Baoliang, from Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology (SIBCB), Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (SIBS), CAS, discovered that a small molecule, Betulin, improves hyperlipidemia and insulin resistance and reduces atherosclerotic plaques by inhibition of sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBP). In

mammals, SREBPs are major transcription factors activating the expression of genes involved in biosynthesis of cholesterol, fatty acid and triglyceride. In this study, the researchers identified a small molecule, betulin, which specifically inhibited the maturation of SREBP by inducing interaction of SREBP cleavage activating protein (SCAP) and Insig. Inhibition of SREBP by betulin decreased the biosynthesis of cholesterol and fatty acid. In vivo, betulin ameliorated diet-induced obesity, decreased the lipid contents in serum and tissues, and increased insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, betulin reduced the size and improved the stability of atherosclerotic plaques. Prof. Song’s study demonstrates that inhibition SREBP pathway can be employed as a therapeutic strategy to treat metabolic diseases including type II diabetes and atherosclerosis.  Therefore, Betulin, which is abundant in birch bark, could be a leading compound for development of drugs for hyperlipidemia.The research was published online in Cell Metabolism on January 5th, 2011.This work was supported by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality. (SIBCB) SONG Baoliang, Ph.D.   Professor. Research Interests; Our laboratory is interested

in cholesterol homeostasis. We are studying the regulation of cholesterol synthesis, pathway of dietary cholesterol absorption and intracellular cholesterol trafficking. Our work includes identifying key proteins involved in cholesterol homeostasis and illustrating their actions, characterizing endogenous regulatory small chemicals, and eventually developing drug-targeting systems. Education Background & Academic Experience Bao-Liang Song received a B.A. degree in Biology in 1997 from Nanjing University. He then entered a doctoral program at Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. He obtained his Ph.D degree in 2002. From 2002 to 2005, Dr. Bao-Liang Song joined the laboratory of Joseph L. Goldstein, M.D. and Michael S. Brown, M.D. at UT Southwestern Medical Center as a post-doctoral fellow, and worked with Dr. Russell DeBose-Boyd on the degradation of HMG CoA reductase. He was appointed to a principle investigator in Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology since 2005. Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (SIBS) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is a leading research institution for life sciences in China. It was established on July 3, 1999,

through structural reorganization and institutional reform of 8 former CAS institutes of biological sciences in Shanghai. Among which, some institutes had the history of academic tradition and scientific accumulations for more than 50 years, during which, landmark achievements were acquired – the world first synthetic Crystalline Bovine Insulin with relatively high activity and total synthesis of Yeast Alanine tRNA with the same natural chemical structure and complete biology activity, the discovery of China’s first internationally recognized innovative anti-malaria drug Artemisinin, and the first successfully completed artificial parthenogenesis of the toad oocyte. Currently SIBS comprises 8 research institutes and 3 supporting units, namely Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Institute of Neuroscience, Institute of Materia Medica, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Institute of Health Sciences, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Institute Pasteur of Shanghai, and CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology; Shanghai Information Center for Life Sciences, Shanghai CASB Biotechnology Co., Ltd., and Shanghai Center for Laboratory Animals. SIBS has 6 campuses located at Yueyang Road, Fenglin Road, Chongqing Road, Caobao Road, Jiuting and Pudong Zhangjiang, with a total land area of 210,000 m2 and construction area of 150,000 m2, in addition to a new building of 62,000 m2 under construction. Research at SIBS is in three major

directions: the basic research of life sciences, translational research on human health and major diseases, and the research on sustainable development of agriculture and environment. Main research areas of SIBS include functional genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics, structure and function of biological macromolecules, regulation of molecular network of cellular activities, molecular and cellular mechanism of brain development and functions, R&D of new pharmaceuticals for prevention and treatment of major diseases, modernization of traditional Chinese medicine, translational biomedical research, nutritional science, virology and immunology, molecular physiology of plant, insect and microorganism, biotechnology, computational biology, as well as interdisciplinary studies. SIBS is the legal entity of the National Core-Facility for Protein Sciences in South. The establishment of the facility will improve the capacity of biological research and biotech development in Shanghai. News from: Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China. sibcb.ac.cn

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