Philip Ball on water in biology

Philip Ball, author of “Life’s Matrix: A Biography of Water”, and publisher of the excellent blog, Water in Biology,  reports on recent papers about the interaction of water and bio-molecules, including a recent study on trehalose:

H. Nagase of Hoshi University in Tokyo and his coworkers have continued their exploration of the molecular mechanisms of anhydrobiosis and how trehalose acts as a bioprotectant in this regard (H. Nagase et al., J. Phys. Chem. B. 112, 9105-9111; 2008 – paper here). They have studied the crystal structure of trehalose anhydrate, and find that it contains a one-dimensional channel threading between the trehalose molecules which may be filled with water in the dihydrate form of solid trehalose.

Such investigations, and research in related fields like cryoenzymology, are of great importance to elucidating the molecular mechanisms of cryoprotectant toxicity. Cryoprotectant toxicity is the foremost obstacle to reversible vitrification of the mammalian brain without loss of long term viability.