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Scientists have shed light on a key control process within cells that helps ensure our bodies function efficiently, defining the shape of a protein molecule at different stages as it performs a key activity within a cell – breaking down sugar to turn it into energy.

The findings – which enable scientists to create graphics of the molecular structure at various stages of the process – could prove vital in informing the quest for new medicines.

Scientists hope that this initial development will lead them to gain insights into how the cells in our bodies function appropriately in response to changing needs.

Precisely how cells are regulated is a mystery which has puzzled scientists for decades. The findings help to pinpoint how cells control their activities, for example how our heart is able to pump faster when we climb stairs, or how our digestive system breaks down a big meal.

The way proteins communicate within a cell is known as the ‘second secret of life’ – its importance in explaining the science of living things is ranked by scientists as second only to the discovery of DNA.

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