Research carried out by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and The University of Manchester has revealed new insights into how cells stick to each other and to other bodily structures, an essential function in the formation of tissue structures and organs. It's thought that abnormalities in their ability to do so play an important role in a broad range of disorders, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Patients who have lost their sight due to a rare disorder may be able to regain some vision using a new implantable device that takes the place of damaged cells inside the eye. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, which relies on R&D 100 Award-winning technologies and has been developed with the help of 2005 R&D Innovator of the Year Mark Humayun.
Researchers at Macquarie University have been perfecting a technique that may help see nanodiamonds used in biomedical applications. Graduate student Jana Say has been working on processing the raw diamonds so that they might be used as a tag for biological molecules.
A Stanford University study is the first to demonstrate that sophisticated, engineered light resonators can be inserted inside cells without damaging the host. The researchers say it marks a new age in which tiny lasers and light-emitting diodes yield new avenues in the study and influence of living cells.
A new study from engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, pairs light and genetics to give researchers a powerful new tool for manipulating cells. The optogenetics breakthrough shows how blue light can be used as a switch to prompt targeted proteins to accumulate into large clusters. This clustering, or oligomerization, is commonly employed by nature to turn on or turn off specific signaling pathways used in cells’ complex system of communications.
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.
Calcium plays a major role in orchestrating normal heart pump function. The condition known as diastolic heart failure occurs when the calcium signaling process is slowed, preventing the heart from relaxing. Scientists in Minnesota have utilized molecular genetic engineering to optimize heart performance in models of diastolic heart failure by creating an optimized protein that can aid in high-speed relaxation similar to fast twitching muscles.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have created genetic circuits in bacterial cells that not only perform logic functions, but also remember the results, which are encoded in the cell’s DNA and passed on for dozens of generations.
Slender, limbless, and primitive, lancelets are not exciting animals. But one such animal, amphioxus, appeared on the cover of a scientific journal recently because of the melanopsin-producing cells that Marine Biology Laboratory researchers found in this otherwise simple chordate. The light-sensing cells of amphioxus, they discovered, may be the ”missing link“ between the visual cells of invertebrates and the circadian receptors in our own eyes.
Plant and animal cells contain two genomes: one in the nucleus and one in the mitochondria. When mutations occur in each, they can become incompatible, leading to disease. To increase understanding of such illnesses, scientists at Brown University and Indiana University have traced one example in fruit flies down to the individual errant nucleotides and the mechanism by which the flies become sick.
Low-energy radiation particles, known as beta particles, are often used in radiation treatments for cancer patients. For years, scientists have been studying how to use alpha particles, which are far higher in energy, for the same treatments. The challenge has been finding ways to focus these powerful particles on target cancers without hurting other tissues. A collaboration of scientists have recently created a gold nanoparticle that can transport powerful alpha particles directly to tumors for treatment.
Sound waves are widely used in medical imaging, such as when doctors take an ultrasound of a developing fetus. Now scientists have developed a way to use sound to probe tissue on a much tinier scale. Researchers deployed high-frequency sound waves to test the stiffness and viscosity of the nuclei of individual human cells. The probe could eventually help answer questions such as how cells adhere to medical implants and why healthy cells turn cancerous.
Although several hundred different forms of the immune genes exist in humans, individuals only have a few variants which co-determine their typical body odor, their individual “scent”. Scientists in Germany have succeeded in explaining the chemical nature of this individual scent. They have also synthesized it and have tested its effectiveness on people. The results show how perfumes that are completely effective biologically can be produced synthetically without resorting to animal products.
Scientists in the U.K. have reported that they have developed a method that cuts down the time it takes to make new “parts” for microscopic biological factories from two days to only six hours. The technique does away with the need to re-engineer a cell’s DNA every time a new part is needed. The researchers say their research brings them another step closer to a new kind of industrial revolution, where parts for these biological factories could be mass-produced.
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.
Using genetic material as their medium, researchers reported Wednesday that they had stored all 154 Shakespeare sonnets, a photo, a scientific paper, and a 26-second sound clip from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. That all fit in a barely visible bit of DNA in a test tube.
Bacterial biofilms, which diseased groupings of cells found in 80% of infections, are a significant health hazard and one of the biggest headaches for hospitals and their constant battle against disease. Researchers from IBM, with the help of scientists in Singapore, revealed today a synthetic antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and completely eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact. It is the first hydrogel to be biodegradable, biocompatible, and non-toxic.
Duke University engineers are layering atom-thick lattices of carbon with polymers to create unique materials with a broad range of applications, including artificial muscles. The lattice, known as graphene, is made of pure carbon and appears under magnification like chicken wire. Because of its unique optical, electrical, and mechanical properties, graphene is used in electronics, energy storage, composite materials, and biomedicine.
In the same week that a team of researchers in France announced the harmful effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on hormone levels in human tissue, researchers in Texas have demonstrated through experiments that the BPA substitute bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity at an extremely low level of exposure, and in an even more problematic way.
The purpose of cell division is to evenly distribute the genome between two daughter cells. But this process is highly prone to interaction errors between chromosomes and spindles. Studies led by cell biologist Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are revealing new details about a molecular surveillance system that helps detect and correct errors in cell division that can lead to cell death or human diseases
Scientists in Germany and Switzerland have developed an implant that is able to genetically modify specific nerve cells, control them with light stimuli, and measure their electrical activity all at the same time. This new tool relies on an innovative genetic technique that forces nerve cells to change their activity by shining light of different colors onto them.
Physicians may soon have a better alternative to endoscopy for screening patients for Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition usually caused by chronic exposure to stomach acid. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed an imaging system enclosed in a capsule about the size of a multivitamin pill that creates detailed, microscopic images of the esophageal wall.
Organophosphorus agents (OP) are used as pesticides in developing countries and it is estimated about 200,000 people die each year across the world from OP poisoning through occupational exposure, unintentional use, and misuse. Using a modified human enzyme, researchers in Europe have created a “bioscavenger” which was found to protect mice against these types of chemical agents.
The detailed changes in the structure of a virus as it infects an E. coli bacterium have been observed for the first time, report researchers in Texas. The researchers show that when searching for its prey, the virus briefly extends—like feelers—one or two of six ultra-thin fibers it normally keeps folded at the base of its head.