Oncology & Cancer

Preventing metastasis by stopping cancer cells from making fat

Olivier Feron, a researcher at the University of Louvain (UCLouvain) Institute of Experimental and Clinical Research, seeks to understand how metastases form from a tumor. He previously demonstrated that the most aggressive ...

Medical research

Molecular 'doormen' open the way to potential obesity treatment

Fat cells are filled with droplets coated by molecules that act like hotel doormen: These "doormen" control cellular access for nutrients as well as for the exit of energy-supplying molecules called lipids. In healthy individuals, ...

Immunology

What protects killer immune cells from harming themselves?

White blood cells, which release a toxic potion of proteins to kill cancerous and virus-infected cells, are protected from any harm by the physical properties of their cell envelopes, find scientists from UCL and the Peter ...

Medical research

Exploring how lipids and cholesterol relate to Alzheimer's

Professor Jing Xu and her students study extremely tiny motor proteins, but their work could make a huge contribution to the growing body of knowledge about Alzheimer's and other diseases that progressively destroy brain ...

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Lipid

Lipids are a broad group of naturally-occurring molecules which includes fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, phospholipids, and others. The main biological functions of lipids include energy storage, as structural components of cell membranes, and as important signaling molecules.

Lipids may be broadly defined as hydrophobic or amphiphilic small molecules; the amphiphilic nature of some lipids allows them to form structures such as vesicles, liposomes, or membranes in an aqueous environment. Biological lipids originate entirely or in part from two distinct types of biochemical subunits or "building blocks": ketoacyl and isoprene groups. Using this approach, lipids may be divided into eight categories: fatty acyls, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, saccharolipids and polyketides (derived from condensation of ketoacyl subunits); and sterol lipids and prenol lipids (derived from condensation of isoprene subunits).

Although the term lipid is sometimes used as a synonym for fats, fats are a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. Lipids also encompass molecules such as fatty acids and their derivatives (including tri-, di-, and monoglycerides and phospholipids), as well as other sterol-containing metabolites such as cholesterol. Although humans and other mammals use various biosynthetic pathways to both break down and synthesize lipids, some essential lipids cannot be made this way and must be obtained from the diet.

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