St. Jude Researchers Discover an Enzyme’s Role in Cell Survival

Lisabeth Christy, a photographer based out of Washington, DC, frequently donates time and resources to various charities. Supporting her belief that every child deserves a happy childhood, Lisabeth Christy donates a portion of each of her photography sessions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an organization dedicated to advancing cures and preventative methods for pediatric diseases, recently found that enzyme receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) plays an important role in determining whether cells live or die. The enzyme is normally responsible for survival after birth, and when functioning properly, it uses two different pathways for disposing of dangerous or unneeded cells. However, its control over these pathways can also lead to cell death.

Researchers discovered that RIPK1 ensures cells respond to signals that promote either pathway in a balanced way. This discovery was achieved by removing certain parts of the pathways and testing the results. The study not only answers the question about how RIPK1 affects cell survival, but it also provides new insight into how the pathways could be used to contain infections. New studies are now underway that look into the possibility of harnessing RIPK1 to use against cancer cells.

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