Maastricht Economic and social Research and  training centre on Innovation and Technology

Rethinking Redistribution
For this edition of Alumni Watch, we caught up with Dr. Andres Mideros Mora of Ecuador, who graduated from the UNU-MERIT PhD programme earlier this month. He defended his thesis, 'Essays on the Economic Effects of Non-contributory Social Protection', while taking a short break from his role as Minister of Planning and Development of Ecuador.

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    Scientists have devised a simple technique for shielding biologically important molecules from degradation, which could open the door to longer-lasting drugs.

    Short chains of amino acids called peptides help to control processes ranging from food intake to communication between neurons. But many natural enzymes in the body snip peptides apart, limiting their use in medicine. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia tried a simple fix: substituting sulfur for the oxygen atom located at a peptide bond often sliced by enzymes.

    Making the atomic swap in glucagon-like peptide-1, which helps to regulate blood-sugar levels and appetite, rendered the modified peptide as much as 750 times more stable than the natural variety. Rats treated with the more durable form of the peptide had smaller blood-sugar spikes after meals than rats treated with the naturally occurring peptide.

    Nature / Journal of the American Chemical Society    November 28, 2017