In new work, a research team has shed light on a type of molecular motor used to package the DNA of a number of viruses, including such human pathogens as herpes and the adenoviruses. The scientists found that this viral packaging motor exerts torque to rotate DNA and adapts to changing conditions in order to coordinate its mechano-chemical activity.
Plant scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have found that certain enzymes responsible for desaturating fatty acids, the building blocks of oils, can link up to efficiently pass intermediate products from one enzyme to another. The research lead to the development of plants that can accumulate high levels of more healthful polyunsaturated fatty acids, or fatty acids that could be used as raw materials in place of petroleum.
Scripps Research Institute scientists have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.
When you get sick, your physician may take a sample of your blood, send it to the laboratory and wait for results. In the near future, however, doctors may be able to run those tests almost instantly on a piece of plastic about the size of credit card. These labs-on-a-chip would not only be quick—results are available in minutes—but also inexpensive and portable.
When someone suffers from a stroke, a silent countdown begins. A fast diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death. So scientists are working on a new blood test that one day could rapidly confirm whether someone is having a stroke and what kind.
Researchers have recently developed a unique technology to help physicians perform ultrasound-guided procedures involving needle placement. The new imaging technology, created by Clear Guide Medical, allows physicians to plan needle entry and a precise line to the target before the needle ever enters the patient’s organ or tissue. The result is more efficient, less damaging, and less stressful needle-placement procedures for patients.
A research team using tunable luminescent nanocrystals as tags to advance medical and security imaging have successfully applied them to high-speed scanning technology and detected multiple viruses within minutes. The research builds on the team's earlier success in developing a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers.
Researchers in Pennsylvania have created an artificial chemical sensor based on one of the human body’s most important receptors, one that is critical in the action of painkillers and anesthetics. In these devices, the receptors’ activation produces an electrical response rather than a biochemical one, allowing that response to be read out by a computer.
An interdisciplinary team of scientists in Belgium has developed a new technique to examine how proteins interact with each other at the level of a single HIV viral particle. The technique allows scientists to study the life-threatening virus in detail and makes screening potential anti-HIV drugs quicker and more efficient. The technique can also be used to study other diseases.
The principle behind molecular machines is that one must apply some kind of stimulus in order to make it move. A team of researchers from Denmark and the U.S. have been investigating this type of nanoscale structure to determine how to make various parts move. What they have found is unusual: pieces actually go faster when the distance between the starting and stopping point is longer than if it is shorter.
Researchers in New York have been able to, for the first time, generate fully functional human cartilage from mesenchymal stem cells by mimicking, in vitro, the developmental process of mesenchymal condensation. While there has been great success in engineering pieces of cartilage using young animal cells, no one has, until now, been able to reproduce these results using adult human stem cells from bone marrow or fat.
A popular technique for studying single molecules is optical trapping. This is a traditionally delicate process, requiring special equipment, a soundproof room and patience as data collected one molecule at a time. Physicists have now shrunk the technology of an optical trap onto a single chip. Instead of just one molecule at a time, the new device can potentially trap hundreds of molecules at once, reducing month-long experiments to days.
Leonid Moroz, neurobiologist at the Univ. of Florida, is on a quest to decode the genomic blueprints of fragile marine life in real time, on board the ship where they were caught. His ocean-going laboratory contains a genome sequencing machine secured to a tabletop. Genetic data is beamed via satellite to a supercomputer at the Univ. of Florida, which analyzes the results in a few hours and sends it back to the boat.
In a potential step toward new diabetes treatments, scientists used a cloning technique to make insulin-producing cells with the DNA of a diabetic woman. The approach could someday aid treatment of the Type 1 form of the illness, which is usually diagnosed in childhood and accounts for about 5% of diabetes cases in the U.S.
Medical nanoparticles need to be eventually eliminated from the body after they complete their task. Researchers have developed a new method to analyze and characterize this process of nanoparticle “disassembly”, as a necessary step in translating nanoparticles into clinical use. The technique involves the use of Förster resonance energy transfer, or FRET, as a sort of molecular ruler to measure distance at small scales.
Researchers in the U.K. have applied “soft-touch” atomic force microscopy to large, irregularly arranged and individual DNA molecules. In this form of microscopy, a miniature probe is used to feel the surface of the molecules one by one, rather than seeing them. In this way they have determined the structure of DNA from measurements on a single molecule, and found that the structure is more irregular than previously thought.
Using principles of energy transfer more commonly applied to designing solar cells, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new highly sensitive way to detect specific sequences of DNA, the genetic material unique to every living thing. The method is considerably less costly than other DNA assays and has widespread potential for applications in forensics, medical diagnostics and the detection of bioterror agents.
Using a mixture of cervical cancer cells and a hydrogel substance that resembles an ointment balm, Drexel Univ.’s Wei Sun can print out a tumor model that can be used for studying their growth and response to treatment. This living model will give cancer researchers a better look at how tumors behave and a more accurate measure of how they respond to treatment.
Australian researchers are trying a novel way to boost the power of cochlear implants: They used the technology to beam gene therapy into the ears of deaf animals and found the combination improved hearing. The approach reported Wednesday isn't ready for human testing, but it's part of growing research into ways to let users of cochlear implants experience richer, more normal sound.
A team at Purdue Univ. has used gold nanoparticles to target and bind to fragments of genetic material known as BRCA1 messenger RNA splice variants, which can indicate the presence and stage of breast cancer. The number of these synthetic DNA “tails” in a cell can be determined in a living cell by examining the specific signal that light produces when it interacts with the gold nanoparticles.
Biotechnology scientists must be aware of the broad patent landscape and push for new patent and licensing guidelines, according to a new paper from Rice Univ.’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The paper is based on the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics that naturally occurring genes are unpatentable.
Diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease as a teenager, Roger Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a "bionic eye," he's regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat. The company which made the eye, Second Sight, won an R&D 100 Award in 2009 for its artificial retina device.
Using nanodot technology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have demonstrated the first size-based form of chromatography that can be used to study the membranes of living cells. This unique physical approach to probing cellular membrane structures can reveal information critical to whether a cell lives or dies, remains normal or turns cancerous, that can’t be obtained through conventional microscopy.
In the hands of some Rice Univ. senior engineering students, a fishing rod is more than what it seems. For them, it’s a way to help destroy blood clots that threaten lives. Branding themselves as “Team Evacuator,” five students have been testing a device to break up blood clots that form in the bladders of adult patients and currently have to be removed by suction through a catheter in the urethra.
Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells thrive when deprived of oxygen. Tumors in low-oxygen environments tend to be more resistant to therapy and spread more aggressively to other parts of the body. Measuring tumors’ oxygen levels could help doctors make decisions about treatments, but there’s currently no way to make such measurements. However, a new sensor developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could change that.