Researchers from in Zurich have literally created a “cell phone” from reprogrammed mammalian cells. Using suitable signal molecules and “devices” constructed from biological components, including genes and proteins, the researchers have achieved a synthetic two-way communication system inside a biological cell that also responds to concentration differences in the signal molecules.
Scientists have discovered well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth fragments deep in Siberia that may contain living cells, edging a tad closer to the "Jurassic Park" possibility of cloning a prehistoric animal. Russia's North-Eastern Federal University said an international team of researchers had discovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow some 100 m underground during a summer expedition in the northeastern province of Yakutia.
Four years ago, the federal government created a new institute encompassing top universities and institutes and gave it $300 million to spur new treatments using cell science and advanced plastic surgery. The results, which are now helping to heal war veterans, include the implantation of rebuilt tissues—such as ears and bones—and even more unusual solutions like sprayed-on skin cells.
A team of experts in mechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering at Harvard University have created an extremely stretchy and tough gel that may pave the way to replacing damaged cartilage in human joints. Called a hydrogel, the new material is a hybrid of two weak gels that combine to create something much stronger. Not only can this new gel stretch to 21 times its original length, but it is also exceptionally tough, self-healing, and biocompatible.
Molecular biologists at the University of Texas at Austin have solved one of the mysteries of how double-stranded RNA is remodeled inside cells in both their normal and disease states. It has been known for some time that so-called DEAD-box enzymes, which are found in all forms of life, do not function like traditional helicases. But recent studies have confirmed their piston-like chemical action, potentially helping future genetic therapies.
Over six frightening months, a deadly germ untreatable by most antibiotics spread in the nation's leading research hospital. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health locked down patients, cleaned with bleach, even ripped out plumbing—and still the germ persisted. It took gene detectives teasing apart the bacteria's DNA to solve the germ's wily spread, a CSI-like saga with lessons for hospitals everywhere as they struggle to contain the growing threat of superbugs.
To control the 3D shape of engineered tissue, researchers grow cells on tiny, sponge-like scaffolds. These devices can be implanted into patients or used in the laboratory to study tissue responses to potential drugs. A team of researchers has now added a new element to tissue scaffolds: electronic sensors. These sensors could be used to monitor electrical activity in the tissue surrounding the scaffold, control drug release, or screen drug candidates for their effects on the beating of heart tissue.
Algae are high on the genetic engineering agenda as a potential source for biofuel, and they should be subjected to independent studies of any environmental risks that could be linked to cultivating algae for this purpose, two prominent researchers say. The researchers argue that ecology experts should be among scientists given independent authority and adequate funding to explore any potential unintended consequences of this technological pursuit.
Using next-generation sequencing technology and a new strategy to encode 1,000 times the largest data size previously achieved in DNA, Harvard University geneticist George Church has encoded his book in life's language. While the volume of data is comparatively modest, the density of 5.5 petabits, or 1 million gigabits per cubic meter, is off the charts.
Tissue implants made of cells grown on a sponge-like scaffold have been shown in clinical trials to help heal arteries scarred by atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases. However, it has been unclear why some implants work better than others. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have now shown that implanted cells' therapeutic properties depend on their shape, which is determined by the type of scaffold on which they are grown.
Bioengineered replacements for tissues require recreation of the exquisite architecture of these tissues in three dimensions. These fibrous, collagen-based tissues located throughout the body have an ordered structure that gives them their ability to bear extreme mechanical loading. A team from the University of Pennsylvania has developed and validated a new technology in which composite nanofibrous scaffolds provide a loose enough structure for cells to colonize without impediment, but still can instruct cells how to lay down new tissue.
Addressing a scientific debate that had lasted for 16 years over the existence of a certain type of double-stranded DNA structure called S-DNA, researchers in Singapore were able to create the structure by stretching conventional double-stranded DNA beyond a certain transition force. The debate centered over whether the new structure was merely a melting transition for a full-fledge form.
In a curious evolutionary twist, biologists from the University of Buffalo report, several species of a commonly studied fruit fly appear to have incorporated genetic material from a virus into their genomes. This discovery of virus-like genes in the DNA of a commonly studied fruit fly could enable research on whether animals hijack viral genes as an anti-viral defense.
Researchers from Drexel University are in the process of refining a sensor technology that they developed to measure samples at the cellular level. Constructed from a tiny vibrating piezoelectric cantilever, the sensor may become an accurate method for quickly detecting traces of DNA in liquid samples.
Scientists in Germany have developed a new strategy for the controlled production and metallization of DNA nanostructures. The team used a DNA strand consisting of an immobilization sequence and a metallization sequence and strung several alternating sequences together. Such a construction could someday be used in electronics.
Recent research shows for the first time that a new genomic sequencing method called Smart-Seq can help scientists conduct in-depth analyses of clinically relevant single cells. The method builds on knowledge of splicing, in which it is common for one gene to give rise to several forms of the same protein through different cut-and-paste configurations of its raw copy.
Using recent advances in marine biomechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering, a team of researchers at Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology have turned inanimate silicone and living cardiac muscle cells into a freely swimming "jellyfish."
Inspired by nature, an international research team has created synthetic pores that mimic the activity of cellular ion channels, which play a vital role in human health by severely restricting the types of materials allowed to enter cells. The pores the scientists built are permeable to potassium ions and water, but not to other ions such as sodium and lithium ions.
New research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that exercise is a key step in building a muscle-like implant in the lab with the potential to repair muscle damage from injury or disease. In mice, these implants successfully prompt the regeneration and repair of damaged or lost muscle tissue, resulting in significant functional improvement.
Given their enormous potential in future treatments against disease, the study and growth of stem cells in the laboratory is widespread and critical. But growing the cells in culture offers numerous challenges. However, a group of researchers has now developed a nanoparticle-based system to deliver growth factors to stem cells in culture.
According to a report from research on the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the biological mechanism of sunburn—the reddish, painful, protective immune response from UV radiation—is a consequence of RNA damage to skin cells. The findings open the way to perhaps eventually blocking the inflammatory process, the scientists said, and have implications for a range of medical conditions and treatments.
According to a recent study in the U.K., stem cells found in amniotic fluid can be transformed into a more versatile state similar to embryonic stem cells. These can also be reprogrammed without having to introduce extra genes, a feature that raises the possibility that stem cells derived from donated amniotic fluid could be stored in banks.
In most scientific models, genetic mutants have a fitness value which remains constant. Based on this value, they compete, die out, or become established. However, evolutionary game theory considers holds that the fitness of a mutation also depends on the frequency of the mutation. Researchers in Germany have developed a model to address the scenario of mutations being frequency-dependent but having random fitness parameters.
A University of California Davis research team began studying the genes influencing tomato fruit development and ripening after spending two summers screening tomato plants for transcription factors that might play a role in both fruit color and quality. What they’ve found is that selection for tomatoes with optimal ripening qualities compromises the sugars that contribute to the fruit’s flavor.
An international team of researchers has discovered a programmable RNA complex in the bacterial immune system that guides the cleaving of DNA at targeted sites. This discovery opens a new door to genome editing with implications for the green chemistry microbial-based production of advanced biofuels, therapeutic drugs, and other valuable chemical products.