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Manipulating cell death

Dr. David Andrews, director of Biological Sciences at SRI, is studying the mechanisms that regulate apoptosis, or programmed cell death. The aim is to be able to manipulate cell death—to hasten it, as in cancer, or stave it off, as in neurodegenerative disorders. He and his colleagues have discovered that small molecules inhibit the binding of Bax and Bak, proteins that regulate apoptosis. He is working with researchers in Germany to identify more molecules that inhibit these proteins, with the eventual aim of developing a drug that temporarily keeps select cells alive while treatment is administered.