International Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) Conference at Rutgers Newark

Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) researchers from around the world will convene at Rutgers-Newark for an International Conference on Thiamine: Its Biochemistry and Structural Biology, May 18-21. Thiamine is a coenzyme that plays a vital role in carbohydrate metabolism within all cells of the human body, as well as in certain human metabolic disorders.

Frank Jordan, Board of Governors professor of chemistry at Rutgers-Newark, is co-chairing the conference. Jordan noted that the highlight of the conference will be the presentation of high-resolution, three-dimensional structures of several of the thiamin diphosphate-dependent enzymes whose defects lead to specific human metabolic disorders.

The last international thiamine conference was convened in 1996 in Blaubeuren, Germany. Approximately 80-100 researchers from around the globe will present their research during the four-day meeting at Rutgers-Newark.

Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is converted by human cells to the coenzyme thiamin diphosphate, which together with cognate proteins, is a catalyst for carbohydrate metabolism, a process that converts food into energy. Deficiencies of thiamin diphosphate are implicated in a number of metabolic disorders such as human pyruvate dehydrogenase complex deficiency, a neurodegenerative disorder; primary biliary cirrhosis, a degenerative liver disease; maple syrup urine disease, a potentially fatal metabolic disorder; and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a disease affecting alchoholics.

New technologies available to scientists around the world are having a significant effect on research, Jordan noted. With recent advances in X-ray crystallography and more powerful computers, scientists are able to view the 3-D structure of thiamin diphosphate in the active site of enzymes. This helps us explain the molecular origins of some human diseases and may eventually enable us to develop novel treatments or interventions based on structural understanding, Jordan continued. The f

Contact: Helen Paxton
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

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