Certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, have the ability to deploy tiny darts. This biological weapon kills the host cell by piercing the membrane. Researchers have unlocked, piece by piece, this intriguing little machine and found an assembly of proteins that, in unfolding at the right time, takes the form of a spur.
Two volunteer taste-testers in London got the unusual opportunity of sampling a stem-cell burger. Though it was reportedly short on taste, the burger represents five years of research. Made from meat grown in a laboratory from the stem cells of cattle, the the burger is part of an effort to help solve both the food crisis and climate change.
A study at the Univ. of Utah finds that more than 60% of antibiotic prescriptions are for types that kill multiple kinds of bacteria. Unfortunately, in more than 25% of cases such prescriptions are useless because the infection stems from a virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics. This overuse of antibiotics has a number of downsides.
Afraid there may be peanuts or other allergens hiding in that cookie? Thanks to a cradle and app that turn your smartphone into a handheld biosensor, you may soon be able to run on-the-spot tests for food safety, environmental toxins, medical diagnostics and more.
A recent publication evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications. This remarkable protein is rubber-like and enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp. Resilin could have major potential uses in medicine.
Researchers have shown that test strips bearing gold nanoparticles as sensor elements can detect numerous proteins simultaneously. This new cost-effective method for parallel protein analysis, developed at Johannes Gutenberg Univ. in Mainz, Germany, is, in principle, capable of identifying hundreds of even thousands of different proteins. It could even be used to detect the presence of viruses and their type.
Many drugs such as agents for cancer or autoimmune diseases have nasty side effects because while they kill disease-causing cells, they also affect healthy cells. Now a new study has demonstrated a technique for developing more targeted drugs, by using molecular “robots” to hone in on more specific populations of cells.
Researchers at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have used optogenetics techniques to implant false memories into mice, potentially illuminating the mechanisms underlying the human phenomenon of “recalling” experiences that never occurred.
All plants need nitrogen to convert into ammonia, but only a small number of plants can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. The rest are helped by synthetic fertilizers, which have been blamed for nitrogen pollution. A scientist in the U.K., Edward Cocking, has found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonize all major crop plants. The technology is being commercialized.
The use of enzymes from thermophiles—microbes that thrive at extremely high temperatures and alkaline conditions—holds promise for extracting fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass. Finding the most effective of these microbial enzymes has been a challenge, but Joint BioEnergy Institute scientists have recently made progress in this area by adapting a combination of metagenomic and metaproteomic technologies.
Fitness fanatics may soon be able to gauge if their hard work is paying off without the need for weighing scales thanks to a new device that can instantly tell if your body is burning fat. The portable, pocket-sized sensor, produced by a group of researchers in Japan, works by measuring increased levels of acetone on the breath—a good indicator of when the body has begun to break down fat.
A new biosensor, applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo, can alert marathoners, competitive bikers and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to “bonk,” or “hit the wall.” The study describes the first human tests of the sensor, which also could help soldiers and others who engage in intense exercise.
Phenomenex Inc. announced that its Phree phospholipid removal plates have been recognized as one of the top innovations of 2012 by R&D Magazine. This is the ninth Phenomenex product to receive this award in the last 10 years. Phree phospholipid removal plates provide fast cleanup of plasma samples in pharmaceutical and clinical research laboratories.
Fluxion Biosciences announced that it has won a 2013 R&D 100 Award for its IsoFlux system. The R&D 100 Award places the state-of-the-art IsoFlux system in the prestigious company of previous winners such as liquid crystal displays and the anticancer drug Taxol.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund up to $24 million per year for four years to establish six to eight investigator-initiated Big Data to Knowledge Centers of Excellence. The centers will improve the ability of the research community to use increasingly large and complex data sets through the development and distribution of innovative approaches, methods, software and tools for data sharing.
Oxford Gene Technology (OGT), a provider of genetics research and biomarker solutions to advance molecular medicine, has produced a new white paper that is designed to help researchers looking to develop next-generation sequencing strategies. It covers resequencing, methods suitability, data analysis and time and cost considerations.
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a rapid and highly efficient system for transferring large molecules, nanoparticles, and other agents into living cells, providing new avenues for disease research and treatment. The high throughput method treats up to 100,000 cells per second and uses controlled mechanical force that is non-toxic to cells.
A research team led by Ali Javey of the Univ. of California, Berkeley, has created the first user-interactive sensor network on flexible plastic. The new electronic skin, or e-skin, responds to touch by instantly lighting up. The more intense the pressure, the brighter the light it emits.
Stem cells are key to the promise of regenerative medicine, but the formula for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the cells that can be created from a patient’s own tissues, has limited variations. New research, however, says iPSCs are far more versatile than originally thought. For the first time, researchers have replace a gene once thought impossible to substitute, creating the potential for more flexible recipes.
This week Illumina, Inc. announced the availability of its Phasing Analysis Service. The new sample-to-answer service delivers human whole-genome phase information, empowering gene mapping studies with a more comprehensive view of genomic variation. With phase data, researchers can better understand the effect of genotype on phenotype and variant interaction within a gene.
Microbiologists in France are reinvigorating a way of battling C. difficile infections that they hope will help overcome the growing problem of antibiotic resistant superbugs in hospitals. Using a model human colon, the researchers showed that the administration of a specific bacteriophage significantly reduced toxins and the number of C. difficile cells produced without significantly affecting the other members of the gut microbiota.
Researchers in Switzerland have developed a live-cell fluorescent labeling that makes bacterial cell-to-cell communication pathways visible. The communication between bacterial cells is essential in the regulation of processes within bacterial populations, such as biofilm development.
Although malaria has been eradicated in many countries, including the United States, it still infects more than 200 million people worldwide, killing nearly a million every year. In a major step toward reducing that number, a team led by MIT researchers has now developed a way to grow liver tissue that can support the liver stage of the life cycle of the two most common species of malaria.
GOJO Industries, a maker of hand hygiene and skin health and inventors of Purell Hand Sanitizer, conducted an independent research study at the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas to determine the impact on hand hygiene compliance rates when the hospital hand hygiene program included an electronic compliance activity monitoring system. The research showed a 92% hand hygiene improvement.
A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have identified a mechanism that can prevent the normal prion protein from changing its molecular shape into the abnormal form responsible for neurodegenerative diseases. This finding offers new hope in the battle against a foe that until now has always proved fatal.