As embryonic tissue develops, cells push and pull on each other, and they must do so correctly for the tissue to develop properly. Now scientists at Harvard Univ. have devised the first method to measure these tiny forces in 3-D tissues and living embryos. The method, which involves injecting tiny oil droplets, could lead to new tools to diagnose cancer, hypertension, connective tissue diseases and more.
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Medicated adhesive patches have become a preferred method of delivery for everything from nicotine to hormones to motion sickness medication. Drexel Univ. researchers are trying to expand the possibilities of this system, which is called transdermal delivery, with the help of a cleverly designed delivery vehicle and an ultrasonic "push," or pressure from sound waves.
A researcher team from Spain and Italy say that when envisioning in vivo microrobots of the future, we should forget cogwheels, pistons and levers. These miniature robots will be soft, and behave much like euglenids, tiny unicellular aquatic animals. Their work in studying these creatures have given them insights on how to design soft robots with effective mechanical structures.
New findings by Univ. of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) and German chemists about how cataracts form could be used to help prevent the world’s leading cause of blindness, which currently affects nearly 20 million people worldwide. The UC Irvine team explored and identified the structures of the normal proteins and a genetic mutation known to cause cataracts in young children.
A new method to identify previously hidden details about the structures of proteins may speed the process of novel drug design, according to scientists at Rice Univ. A unique combination of computational techniques and experimental data helped Rice theorists predict intermediate configurations of proteins that, until now, have been hard to detect.
A group of Illinois researchers, led by Centennial Chair Prof. of the Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Huimin Zhao, has demonstrated the use of an innovative DNA engineering technique to discover potentially valuable functions hidden within bacterial genomes. Their work was reported in a Nature Communications article.
The first long-term U.S. field trials of Miscanthus x giganteus reveal that its exceptional yields, though reduced somewhat after five years of growth, are still more than twice those of switchgrass, a perennial grass used as a bioenergy feedstock. Miscanthus grown in Illinois also outperforms even the high yields found in earlier studies of the crop in Europe, the researchers found.
Scientists at Penn State Univ. have developed a method that enables a more accurate prediction of how ribonucleic acid molecules (RNAs) fold within living cells, shedding new light on how plants, as well as other living organisms, respond to environmental conditions. The advance was made possible by the ability to analyze more than 10,000 RNA molecules in a single cell.
Researchers have tried for decades to understand the undulations and gyrations that allow transport proteins to shuttle molecules from one side of a cell membrane to the other. Now scientists report that they have found a way to penetrate the mystery. They have worked out every step in the molecular dance that enables one such transporter to do its job.
When sunlight strikes a photosynthesizing organism, energy flashes between proteins just beneath its surface until it is trapped as separated electric charges. Improbable as it may seem, these tiny hits of energy eventually power the growth and movement of all plants and animals. They are literally the sparks of life.
New research from North Carolina State Univ. shows that iron may play a role in preserving ancient tissues within dinosaur fossils, but also may hide them from detection. The finding could open the door to the recovery of more ancient tissues from within fossils.
A new innovation may help us deal with post-Thanksgiving guilt: Biotechnologists have constructed a genetic regulatory circuit from human components that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety to the body. Tests on obese mice reveal that this helps them to lose weight.
Damage to or theft of technical equipment represents a dramatic financial and scientific loss to researchers. Scientists in Germany decided to find out whether the information content and tone of labels attached to the equipment could reduce the incidence of vandalism. They found that a friendly, personal label reduced the interaction of people with the equipment in comparison with neutral or threatening labels.
Rain as acidic as undiluted lemon juice may have played a part in killing off plants and organisms around the world during the most severe mass extinction in Earth’s history. About 252 million years ago, the end of the Permian period brought about a worldwide collapse known as the Great Dying, during which a vast majority of species went extinct. The cause of such a massive extinction is a matter of scientific debate.
Scientists have charted a significant signaling network in a tiny organism that's big in the world of biofuels research. The findings about how a remarkably fast-growing organism conducts its metabolic business bolster scientists' ability to create biofuels using the hardy microbe Synechococcus, which turns sunlight into useful energy.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and Duke Univ. have developed nanoscale “patches” that can be used to sensitize targeted cell receptors, making them more responsive to signals that control cell activity. The finding holds promise for promoting healing and facilitating tissue engineering research.
A study shows, for the first time, that x-ray lasers can be used to generate a complete 3-D model of a protein without any prior knowledge of its structure. An international team of researchers working at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory produced from scratch an accurate model of lysozyme, a well-studied enzyme found in egg whites, using the Linac Coherent Light Source x-ray laser and sophisticated computer analysis tools.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineers have developed a novel way to generate nanoparticles that can recognize specific molecules, opening up a new approach to building durable sensors for many different compounds, among other applications. To create these “synthetic antibodies,” the researchers used carbon nanotubes.
A team of researchers have demonstrated a technique that, by measuring the physical properties of individual cells in body fluids, can diagnose cancer with a high degree of accuracy. The technique, which uses a deformability cytometer to analyze individual cells, could reduce the need for more cumbersome diagnostic procedures and the associated costs, while improving accuracy over current methods.
Biologists at Brown Univ. have found a way to measure the effects of aging by watching the ebb and flow of chromatin, a structure along strands of DNA that either silences or permits gene expression. In several newly published experiments they show that gene silencing via chromatin in fruit flies declines with age.
A new nanotechnology-based technique for regulating blood sugar in diabetics may give patients the ability to release insulin painlessly using a small ultrasound device, allowing them to go days between injections—rather than using needles to give themselves multiple insulin injections each day. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed a method for greatly enhancing biofuel production in tiny marine algae. As reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scripps graduate student Emily Trentacoste led the development of a method to genetically engineer a key growth component in biofuel production.
Help yourself to some nuts this holiday season: Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease—in fact, were less likely to die of any cause—during a 30-year Harvard study. Nuts have long been called heart-healthy, and the study is the largest ever done on whether eating them affects mortality.
Univ. of Michigan researchers are the first to use brain imaging procedures to track the clinical action of pregabalin, a drug known by the brand name Lyrica that is prescribed to patients suffering from fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain. The study suggests role of brain imaging in creating personalized treatment of chronic pain.
Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are investigating the complex relationships between the spread of the HIV virus in a population (epidemiology) and the actual, rapid evolution of the virus (phylogenetics) within each patient’s body. The team models the uninfected population using traditional differential equations on the computer; this is done for computational speed, because an agent-based component is much more demanding.
A Univ. of Connecticut research team has found a way to stabilize hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier protein in the blood, a discovery that could lead to the development of stable vaccines and affordable artificial blood substitutes. The team’s approach involves wrapping the polymer poly(acrylic acid) around hemoglobin, protecting it from the intense heat used in sterilization and allowing it to maintain its biological function.
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