The common pencil squid may hold the key to a new generation of medical technologies that could communicate more directly with the human body. Materials science researchers in California have discovered that reflectin, a protein in the tentacled creature’s skin, can conduct positive electrical charges, or protons, making it a promising material for building biologically inspired devices.
Popping the blisters on the bubble wrap might be the most enjoyable thing about moving. But now, researchers led by 2007 R&D Magazine Scientist of the Year George Whitesides propose a more productive way to reuse the popular packing material: as a sheet of small, test tube-like containers for medical and environmental samples. Analyses can take place right in the bubbles.
Researchers in Kentucky have developed a technology that uses male mosquitoes to effectively sterilize females through a naturally occurring bacterium. Called MosquitoMate, the new technology has been issued an experimental use permit for open field releases targeting the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, which is a vector for newly introduced pathogens like the Chikungunya virus.
Prothrombin is an inactive precursor for thrombin, a key blood-clotting protein, and is essential for life because of its ability to coagulate blood. Using x-ray crystallography, researchers have published the first image of this important protein. By removing disordered sections of the protein’s structure, scientists have revealed its underlying molecular mechanism for the first time.
Tamoxifen is an oral drug that is used for breast cancer prevention and as therapy for non-invasive breast cancer and invasive cancer. Seema Khan, a professor of surgery at Northwestern Univ., has found that is tamoxifen is used in gel form, it reduces the growth of cancer cells while minimizing dangerous side effects such as blood clots and uterine cancer.
A cheap, portable, microchip-based test for diagnosing type-1 diabetes could speed up diagnosis and enable studies of how the disease develops. Handheld microchips distinguish between the two main forms of diabetes mellitus, which are both characterized by high blood-sugar levels but have different causes. Until now, making the distinction has required a slow, expensive test available only in sophisticated healthcare settings.
For billions of years, bacteria have moved themselves using cilia. Now, researchers have constructed molecules that imitate these tiny, hair-like structures. The innovation was possible by nanofabricating artificial cilia that would respond in just one direction to provide a net displacement of motion.
Recent computer simulations show how, for the first time, two knots on a DNA strand can interchange their positions, with one knot growing in size and the other diffusing along the contour of the first. This swapping of positions on a DNA strand may also happen in living organisms, and the mechanism may play an important role in future technologies such as nanopore sequencing.
An international collaboration of researchers have unlocked the secret behind the activation of the Ras family of proteins, one of the most important components of cellular signaling networks in biology and major drivers of cancers that are among the most difficult to treat. To make the discovery, they performed single molecule studies of Ras activation in a membrane environment.
Researchers in Sweden have headed a study that provides new knowledge about the EphA2 receptor, which is significant in several forms of cancer. The researchers employed the method of DNA origami, in which a DNA molecule is shaped into a nanostructure, and used these structures to test theories about cell signalling.
Located deep in the human gut, the small intestine is not easy to examine: X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound images each suffer limitations. Univ. at Buffalo researchers are developing a new imaging technique involving nanoparticles suspended in liquid to form “nanojuice” that patients would drink. Upon reaching the small intestine, doctors would strike the nanoparticles with laser light, providing a non-invasive, real-time view of the organ.
In two papers published in January in the journal Nature, Japanese and American researchers said that they'd been able to transform ordinary mouse cells into versatile stem cells by exposing them to a mildly acidic environment. The scientists withdrew that claim Wednesday, admitting to "extensive" errors that meant they were “unable to say without a doubt" that the method works.
New research led by the Salk Institute shows, for the first time, that stem cells created using two different methods are far from identical. Their work reveals that stem cells created by moving genetic material from a skin cell into an empty egg cell, instead of activating genes to revert adult cells to their embryonic state, more closely resemble human embryonic stem cells, which are considered the gold standard in the field.
Researchers have already used molecular rotors as viscosity sensor probes in live cells, but a recent study in Singapore is the first to report on the use of fluorescent molecular rotors to study critical protein interactions.
New research at UC Berkeley has found that people are better and faster at navigating tactile technology when using both hands and several fingers. Moreover, blind people in the study outmaneuvered their sighted counterparts, perhaps because they’ve developed superior cognitive strategies for finding their way around. These insights are useful as more media companies are implementing tactile interfaces.
Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography have conducted the most detailed examination of green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) in lancelets, marine invertebrates also known as “amphioxus.” They have deciphered the structural components related to fluorescence and have found that only a few key structural differences at the nanoscale allows the sea creature to emit different brightness levels.
Wyatt Technology Corp. has highlighted a recently authored study that outlines the advantages of quantifying protein-protein interactions (PPI) using automated dynamic light scattering (DLS) in high-throughput screening (HTS) mode to identify promising candidates for drug-like properties. Automated DLS helps establish the suitability of formulations before entering extended stability studies.
In a basement laboratory at Fort Sam Houston military base in Texas, a research team has spent the last two years simulating improvised explosive device blasts on postmortem pig eyes using a high-powered shock tube. Their most striking discovery is that these blasts can damage the optic nerve, and these injuries can occur even at low pressures, causing visual defects that until now have been associated traumatic brain injuries.
Mesenchymal stem cells have become attractive tools for bioengineers, but some scientists haven’t given up on their regenerative potential. A research team at Harvard Univ. recently found that transplanting mesenchymal stem cells along with blood vessel-forming cells naturally found in circulation improves results. This co-transplantation keeps the mesenchymal stem cells alive longer in mice after engraftment, up to weeks from just hours.
Many enzymes work only with a co-trainer, of sorts. Scientists in Germany have shown what this kind of cooperation looks like in detail using a novel methodology applied to the heat shock protein Hsp90, which controls the proper folding of other proteins. Together with a second molecule, the co-chaperone P23, it splits the energy source ATP to yield the energy it needs to do its work.
Using the quantitative approach of physicists, biologists in Israel have developed experimental tools to measure precisely the bacterial response to antibiotics. Their mathematical model of the process has led them to hypothesize that a daily three-hour dose would enable the bacteria to predict delivery of the drug, and go dormant for that period in order to survive.
New research suggests that scientists have only scratched the surface of understanding the nature, physiology and location of stem cells. Specifically, the report suggests that embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells may not be the only source from which all three germ layers in the human body (nerves, liver or heart and blood vessels) can develop.
Optogenetics relies on light-sensitive proteins that can suppress or stimulate electrical signals within cells. This technique requires a light source to be implanted in the brain, where it can reach the cells to be controlled. Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have now developed the first light-sensitive molecule that enables neurons to be silenced noninvasively, using a light source outside the skull.
For the first time, the genome of the electric eel has been sequenced. This discovery has revealed the secret of how fishes with electric organs have evolved six times in the history of life to produce electricity outside of their bodies. This research has shed light on the genetic blueprint used to evolve these complex, novel organs.
For the first time, neuroscientists have shown they can control muscle movement by applying optogenetics, a technique that allows scientists to control neurons’ electrical impulses with light, to the spinal cords of animals that are awake and alert. Previously, scientists have used electrical stimulation or pharmacological intervention to control neurons’ activity, but these approaches were not precise enough.