Tel Aviv University President Co-authors Important Paper Unraveling the Effect of Spatial Organization on Intracellular Chemistry

April 22, 2010

TEL AVIV, Israel, April 22, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Tel Aviv University
President Professor, Joseph Klafter, has co-authored a paper that brings
together a myriad of seemingly unrelated chemical reactions creating a
unified picture of reaction kinetics. “Geometry-Controlled Kinetics,”
published in Nature Chemistry on April 18, contributes to our understanding
of how the geometry of a particular medium affects the motion of molecules or
other particles within that medium, determining how likely they are to
actually meet and react chemically with one another. Applied to living cells,
this new insight may serve as fertile ground for the development of new
medications. The questions addressed by the paper’s authors may be likened to
the following situation: Two friends have agreed to meet during the break of
a football match in the stadium’s coffee bar to have coffee together. How
likely is this rendezvous to take place before the break is over, and what
does this depend upon? Among other things, claim the researchers, the meeting
depends upon some geometrical parameters, such as the size of the stadium (or
cell), how crowded it is and how far apart the two friends (or molecules) are
situated initially.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100422/387674 )

Professor Klafter, a world-renowned expert on the random motion of
molecules and other nanometric particles, and his colleagues from the
Department of Theoretical Solid State Physics at Paris 06 University, tackled
the problem by universalizing Albert Einstein’s mathematical model for the
diffusion of randomly moving particles suspended in a fluid (known as
Brownian motion, this process may be exemplified by a drop of ink spreading
in a glass of water).

Coining the new phrase “geometry-controlled kinetics,” the researchers
argue that geometry, in particular the initial distance between reactants in
so-called compact systems, can become a key parameter in mathematical models
for processes as varied as regular diffusion, anomalous diffusion and
diffusion in disordered media and fractals. Their findings are of special
significance for understanding the crucial role of the complex spatial
organization of living cells in general, and genes in particular – where
molecules of DNA, RNA and other proteins must travel, meet and react with one
another quickly and effectively in order to sustain life.

Most importantly, this analysis provides scientists with new tools for
investigating the effects of existing medications on cells, as well as
developing drugs that are tailored to every patient. In the long run, it may
even facilitate genetic manipulation procedures, in which defective genes
will be replaced with healthy ones – a possible future cure for some
devastating genetic diseases.

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    Orly Fromer
    Media consultant
    Director of Media Relations and Spokesperson
    Tel-Aviv University
    Ramat Aviv 69978 Tel-Aviv, Israel
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SOURCE Tel-Aviv University

Source: newswire

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