Scientists this week described technology that accelerates microalgae’s ability to produce many different types of renewable oils for fuels, chemicals, foods and personal-care products within days using standard industrial fermentation. On highlight was Solazyme, which has achieved more than 80% oil within each individual cell of microalgae at the commercial scale.
Duke University biomedical engineers have grown three-dimensional human heart muscle that acts...
Researchers at the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International...
The future is unclear for a promising heart device aimed at preventing strokes in people at high risk of them because of an irregular heartbeat. Early results from a key study of Boston Scientific Corp.'s Watchman device suggested it is safer than previous testing found, but may not be better than a drug that is used now for preventing strokes, heart-related deaths and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation over the long term.
The size of electronic components is reaching a physical limit. While 3D assembly can reduce bulk, the challenge is in manufacturing these complex electrical connections. Biologists and physicists in France have recently developed a system of self-assembled connections using actin filaments for 3D microelectronic structures. Once the actin filaments become conductors, they join the various components of a system together.
The basis of natural biological motors essential to life are enzymes—proteins that jump-start chemical reactions. Scientists long have wondered whether a single enzyme molecule, the smallest machine that could possibly exist, might be able to generate enough force to cause its own movement in a specific direction. A recent publication offers positive evidence for this possibility from recent experiments.
Researchers in Switzerland have designed tiny vessels that are capable of releasing active agents in the body. These “nanovehicles” are made from a liposome just 100 to 200 nm in diameter. By attaching magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to the surface, scientists are able to target the vessel, heating it up to release the drug.
Chemists have found an easier way to perform one of the most fundamental tasks in molecular biology: cell marking. Their new method makes use of the tight binding of two proteins that are cheaply obtainable but are not found in human or other mammalian cells. As such, it has advantages over existing cell-marking techniques.
Anyone unfortunate enough to encounter a porcupine’s quills knows that once they go in, they are extremely difficult to remove. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital now hope to exploit the porcupine quill’s unique properties to develop new types of adhesives, needles and other medical devices.
Amgen and deCODE Genetics this week announced that Amgen will acquire deCODE Genetics, an innovator in human genetics headquartered in Reykjavik, Iceland, for a cash transaction valued at $415 million. deCODE Genetics will provide Amgen with an ability to identify and validate disease targets in human populations.
In an effort to aid the administration of medication at the cellular level, researchers in The Netherlands have pioneer a way to control or speed up the process of binding ligands, or antibodies, to diseased cells. This ability relies on a new method that uses supramolecules to electrically switch the behavior of individual cells.
Researchers in Japan have created a hybrid scaffold which promotes regeneration of skin in live animals while maintaining mechanical strength making it a promising material for future skin tissue engineering.
A new form of contraception could take an unexpected shape: electrically spun cloth with nanometer-sized fibers. These fibers, designed by a University of Washington team, can dissolve and release drugs, providing a cheap and discreet platform for protecting against unintended pregnancy, as well as HIV infection.
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have succeeded in teaching computers how to identify commonalities in DNA sequences known to regulate gene activity, and to then use those commonalities to predict other regulatory regions throughout the genome. The tool is expected to help scientists better understand disease risk and cell development.
Through spectroscopic investigations on a hydrogen-producing enzyme, researchers in Germany have found that environment of the catalytic site acts as an electron reservoir in the enzyme. This finding means that the enzyme can produce hydrogen at a highly efficient rate and could be useful as a renewable energy source.
Agilent Technologies, Inc.and Spain’s Centre for Omic Sciences this week announced that they will collaborate on mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics, and automation applied to research in integrated systems biology.
Scientists in the U.K. have built a sensor that would enable doctors to detect the early stages of diseases and viruses with the naked eye. The sensor works by analyzing serum, derived from blood. If the result is positive, a reaction that generates irregular clumps of nanoparticles gives off a distinctive blue hue in a solution inside the container. If the results are negative the nanoparticles separate into ball-like shapes, creating a reddish hue.
When someone develops liver cancer, the disease introduces a very subtle difference to their bloodstream, increasing the concentration of a particular molecule by just 10 parts per billion. That small shift is normally difficult to detect without sophisticated equipment, but new lab-on-a-chip technology designed at Brigham Young University can reveal the presence of ultra-low concentrations of a target molecule.
Scientists in Oregon have created embryos with genes from one man and two women, using a provocative technique that could someday be used to prevent babies from inheriting certain rare incurable diseases. The embryos are not being used to produce children, but it has already stirred a debate over its risks and ethics in Britain, where scientists did similar work a few years ago.
Researchers in Germany are working to build a “circuit diagram” of the mouse brain using an instrument normally confined to study small sample areas. Neurons and axons are tiny in diameter, and can only be studied using electron microscopy. But they can also be very long, making them difficult to map. A new technique, called “serial block face” scanning electron microscopy, gets around this problem.
A pair of University of California, Santa Barbara researchers have created a dynamic gel made of DNA that mechanically responds to stimuli in much the same way that cells do. This DNA gel, at only 10 μm in width, is roughly the size of a eukaryotic cell, the type of cell of which humans are made. When “fed”, it can generate forces independently, leading to changes in elasticity or shape.
Biochemists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a genetic sequence that can alter its host gene's activity in response to cellular energy levels. The scientists have found this particular energy-sensing switch in bacterial genes, which could make it a target for a powerful new class of antibiotics.
Drugs that target cell function must pass through a tough gauntlet of membrane defenses. Working from the knowledge that thin water layers at the membrane surfaces play a big part in ion and small molecule transport, scientists using rapid-fire lasers in Japan have revealed that water molecules adopt three distinct local structures around model lipid monolayers. The finding could help drive drug development.
A team of Rutgers University scientists has determined the 3D structure of the transcription initiation complex, the key intermediate in the process by which cells read out genetic information in DNA. Because the structure studied was from a bacteria, it helps our understanding of bacterial transcription regulation, and provides a starting point for developing new antibacterial agents that function by inhibiting bacterial transcription.
The claim that nanopore technology is on the verge of making DNA analysis so fast and cheap that a person's entire genome could be sequenced at low cost in just minutes has produced intense interest. But a review by Northeastern University physicist Meni Wanunu questions whether the remaining technical hurdles can be overcome to create a workable, easily produced commercial device.
Researchers in Spain have improved the antimicrobial properties of medical textiles using an enzymatic pre-treatment combined with simultaneous deposition of nanoparticles and biopolymers under ultrasonic irradiation. The technique is used to create completely sterile antimicrobial textiles that help prevent hospital-acquired infections.
The bacteria and microalgae typically used to ferment biofuels don’t react well to bio-oil produced by fast pyrolysis. The result of this thermochemical process is a thick, molasses-like oil that is toxic to the microbes. Researchers at Iowa State University, however, have adopted a hybrid approach that incorporates a biochemical conversion path to improve the microbes’ tolerance to contaminants.
Logic circuits can be built from just about anything, including billiard balls, pipes of water, or animals in a maze. Tae Seok Moon, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, intends to build logic gates out of genes, and has already built the largest such device yet reported. But the purpose of these circuits is not to crunch numbers.