Scientists may have discovered a way to improve crop yields.

Paradigm Genetics, scientists at UNC Chapel Hill, and The Salk Institute for Biological Sciences announced Thursday that they have discovered the role of so-called heterotrimeric G-protein signaling in plant cell proliferation.

“This study for the first time reveals important agronomic traits associated with G-protein signaling and opens up a new approach to altering important crop traits such as yield,” said Dr. Keith Davis, vice president of agricultural research at Paradigm.

According to Paradigm, heterotrimeric G proteins respond to signals from outside the cell, such as light and chemicals, through a cell surface associated receptor and translate those signals into action. The role of these proteins had been detected but have not been understood, the company said. Scientists used Paradigm’s GeneFunction Factory process to help unravel the mystery.

By better understanding G-protein involvement, Paradigm said new means could be developed “to control plant performance and yield.”

Inspire completes trial enrollment

At Inspire, the pharmaceutical company announced Thursday that enrollment is complete for the first Phase III clinical trial of its INS37217 intranasal drug. It is being developed to treat people suffering from allergic rhinitis, or inflammation of nasal membranes.

Some 630 people will participate in the 28-day test, and results should be available before the end of the second quarter, the company said.

On Saturday, Inspire will announce results of a Phase II trial involving 59 patients who received one of three doses of INS37217 or a placebo spray.

“All concentrations of INS37217 were well tolerated and all subjects completed the study,” the company said. “Although this study was neither designed nor powered as an efficacy study, patient-recorded symptom scores were statistically significantly reduced with INS37217 treatment compared with placebo for multiple symptoms during the first week of treatment in a small sample of subjects with PAR (perennial allergic rhinitis.)”