Thursday, 31 October 2013

Scientist Find Possible Cure for HIV in an Unusual Place

Scientist Find Possible Cure for HIV in an Unusual Place

The battle against HIV and AIDS continues. The virus that causes these conditions has wreaked havoc on millions of lives--the World Health Organization estimates that, in 2011 alone some 1.7 million people died of HIV/AIDS related illnesses. Although the life expectancy for individuals with this virus was initially extremely short, in recent years the drugs that are used to combat this condition have improved greatly, allowing individuals with the virus to live without too much pain or duress for decades.

However, these drugs are not cures. They treat the condition by essentially keeping HIV replication at a minimum, but the drugs must be taken for life or the HIV will proliferate and spread. Thus, they do not cure the patient. That said, in the past few years we have progressed by leaps and bounds, making amazing new headway in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

To read the full article, see:

Artificial blood made in Romania. First tests encouraging, researchers say

The first tests are promising - mice who received the blood didn't show any signs of inflammation or disease. The ultimate goal is create a product that won't be rejected by humans, and could help save lives after severe accidents and major surgeries. The new artificial blood is made of water, salt, albumin and a protein extracted from marine worms, which makes the blood stress resistant.

Read more: via The Independent Balkan News Agency

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Graphene Gel: The Future of Energy Storage?

Graphene Gel: The Future of Energy Storage?

For individuals living in 21st century society, most of our biggest concerns center around energy. With a population that now exceeds 7 billion people, our need for energy keeps growing. Today, our need is even more desperate, as many of the conventional ways of obtaining the natural resources that are needed for energy production lead to various environmental issues. Ultimately, how to solve our energy crisis is a question that plagues scientists, corporations, and, well, everyone.

A topic that goes hand in hand with the production of energy is the storage of energy; a budding scientific field. Recent research reveals that a combination of two inexpensive and easily attainable substances could revolutionize the way we store energy by giving us a system that not only keeps a charge twice as long as all other carbon based technologies, but can be fully recharged in seconds. Those two substances? Graphite and water. Say what?

Before we continue, graphite is an allotrope of carbon and is most commonly used in pencils. Thankfully, due to its stability, it can be used in thermochemistry as the standard state for defining the heat of formation of carbon compounds. Not only is it the most stable form of carbon, but it can also be used as an electrical conductor, which has led to the research that has now given us Graphene; what has been dubbed, by some, as a miracle material.

but, it's not without its problems, which you can read about here:

Monday, 28 October 2013

11 new 'risk genes' for Alzheimer's discovered

In the largest study of Alzheimer's genetics to date, the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project (IGAP) recently identified 11 new risk genes for Alzheimer's disease in results published in Nature Genetics. Beginning in 2011, the IGAP began a genome-wide association study on nearly 75,000 patients and controls. The study's results doubled the number of known Alzheimer's risk genes, and that doesn't count the additional 13 genes identified by the study that remain to be validated. While many of these newly discovered genes confirmed the importance of previously identified biological pathways, other genes create the opportunity for new hypotheses and a more nuanced understanding of what Alzheimer's disease is and what causes it.

In a breakthrough, scientists have identified 11 new risk genes involved in the deadly Alzheimer's disease in a largest of its kind study.
The highly collaborative effort involved scanning the DNA of over 74,000 volunteers - the largest genetic analysis yet conducted in Alzheimer's research - to discover new genetic risk factors linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of the neurodegenerative disorder.
By confirming or suggesting new processes that may influence Alzheimer's disease development - such as inflammation and synaptic function - the findings point to possible targets for the development of drugs aimed directly at prevention or delaying disease progression.
The International Genomic Alzheimer's Project (IGAP) reported its findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

Until 2009, only one gene variant, Apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4), had been identified as a known risk factor. Since then, prior this discovery, the list of known gene risk factors had grown to include other players - PICALM, CLU, CR1, BIN1, MS4A, CD2AP, EPHA1, ABCA7, SORL1 and TREM2.
IGAP's discovery of 11 new genes strengthens evidence about the involvement of certain pathways in the disease, such as the role of the SORL1 gene in the abnormal accumulation of amyloid protein in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, researchers said.
It also offers new gene risk factors that may influence several cell functions, to include the ability of microglial cells to respond to inflammation.
The researchers identified the new genes by analysing previously studied and newly collected DNA data from 74,076 older volunteers with Alzheimer's and those free of the disorder from 15 countries.
The new genes - HLA-DRB5/HLA0DRB1, PTK2B, SLC24A4-0RING3, DSG2, INPP5D, MEF2C, NME8, ZCWPW1, CELF1, FERMT2 and CASS4 - add to a growing list of gene variants associated with onset and progression of late-onset Alzheimer's.

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Physicists decode decision circuit of cancer metastasis

Physicists decode decision circuit of cancer metastasis
This is an artist's depiction of the dangers of metastasis, the process by which cancer cells migrate and establish tumors throughout the body. A new study from Rice University cancer researchers details the workings of key genetic circuits involved in metastasis. Credit: Rice University

Cancer researchers from Rice University have deciphered the operating principles of a genetic switch that cancer cells use to decide when to metastasize and invade other parts of the body. The study found that the on-off switch's dynamics also allows a third choice that lies somewhere between "on" and "off." The extra setting both explains previously confusing experimental results and opens the door to new avenues of cancer treatment.

The study appears online this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Cancer cells behave in complex ways, and this work shows how such complexity can arise from the operation of a relatively simple decision-making circuit," said study co-author Eshel Ben-Jacob, a senior investigator at Rice's Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (CTBP) and adjunct professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice. "By stripping away the complexity and starting with first principles, we get a glimpse of the 'logic of cancer'—the driver of the disease's decision to spread."
In the PNAS study, Ben-Jacob and CTBP colleagues José Onuchic, Herbert Levine, Mingyang Lu and Mohit Kumar Jolly describe a new theoretical framework that allowed them to model the behavior of microRNAs in decision-making circuits. To test the framework, they modeled the behavior of a decision-making genetic circuit that cells use to regulate the forward and backward transitions between two different cell states, the epithelial and mesenchymal. Known respectively as the E-M transition (EMT) and the M-E transition (MET), these changes in cell state are vital for embryonic development, tissue engineering and wound healing. During the EMT, some cells also form a third state, a hybrid that is endowed with a special mix of both epithelial and mesenchymal abilities, including group migration.
The EMT transition is also a hallmark of cancer metastasis. Cancer cells co-opt the process to allow tumor cells break away, migrate to other parts of the body and establish a new tumor. To find ways to shut down metastasis, cancer researchers have conducted dozens of studies about the genetic circuitry that activates the EMT.
One clear finding from previous studies is that a two-component genetic switchis the key to both the EMT and MET. The switch contains two specialized pairs of proteins. One pair is SNAIL and microRNA34 (SNAIL/miR34), and the other is ZEB and microRNA200 (ZEB/miR200).

Each pair is "mutually inhibitory," meaning that the presence of one of the partners inhibits the production of the other.
In the mesenchymal cell state—the state that corresponds to cancer metastasis—both SNAIL and ZEB must be present in high levels. In the epithelial state, the microRNA partners dominate, and neither ZEB nor SNAIL is available in high levels.
"Usually, if you have two genes that are mutually limiting, you have only two possibilities," Ben-Jacob said. "In the first case, gene A is highly expressed and inhibits gene B. In the other, gene B is highly expressed and it inhibits A. This is true in the case of ZEB and miR200. One of these is 'on' and the other is 'off,' so it's clear that this is the decision element in the switch."
SNAIL and miR34 interact more weakly. As a result, both can be present at the same time, with the amount of each varying based upon inputs from a number of other proteins, including several other cancer genes.
"One of the most important things the model showed us was how SNAIL and miR34 act as an integrator," Ben-Jacob said. "This part of the circuit is acted on by multiple cues, and it integrates those signals and feeds information into the decision element. It does this based upon the level of SNAIL, which activates ZEB and inhibits miR200."
In modeling the ZEB/miR200 decision circuit, the team found that it operates as a "ternary" or three-way, switch. The reason for this is that ZEB has the ability to activate itself by a positive feedback loop, which allows the cell to keep intermediate levels of all four proteins in the switch under some conditions.
Ben-Jacob said the hybrid, or partially on-off state, also supports cancer metastasis by enabling collective cell migration and by imparting stem-cell properties that help migrating cancer cells evade the immune system and anticancer therapies.
"Now that we understand what drives the cell to select between the various states, we can begin to think of new ways to outsmart cancer," Ben-Jacob said. "We can think about coaxing the cancer to make the decision that we want, to convert itself into a state that we are ready to attack with a particularly effective treatment."
The cancer-metastasis results correspond with findings from previous studies by Ben-Jacob and Onuchic into the collective decision-making processes of bacteria and into new strategies to combat cancer by timing the delivery of multiple drugs to interrupt the decision-making processes of cancer.
"At CTBP, we allow the underlying physics of a system to guide our examination of its biological properties," said Onuchic, CTBP co-director and Rice's Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Physics and Astronomy and professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and cell biology. "In this case, that approach led us to develop a powerful model for simulating the decision-making circuitry involved in cancer metastasis. Going forward, we plan to see how this circuit interacts with others to produce a variety of cancer cells, including cancer stem cells."
The research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and the Tauber Family Funds at Tel Aviv University. Lu is a postdoctoral researcher at CTBP, and Jolly is a graduate student in bioengineering. Levine is co-director of CTBP and Rice's Karl F. Hasselmann Professor in Bioengineering. Ben-Jacob is also the Maguy-Glass Professor in Physics of Complex Systems and professor of physics and astronomy at Tel Aviv University.

New cancer risk gene found

A new breast cancer risk gene has been discovered, and it explains early-onset breast cancer in some families who have suffered from the disease on multiple occasions. Known as RINT1, mutations in this gene were shown to increase the risk of many other cancers too, and it's hoped that this discovery will help more women learn which of their family members are at high risk of developing cancer.

Read more: via science alert

Friday, 25 October 2013

Blood Vessel Cells Can Repair, Regenerate Organs

Damaged or diseased organs may someday be healed with an injection of blood vessel cells, eliminating the need for donated organs and transplants, according to scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College....ya this research news is not latest as it  appear in beginning of oct but i thought it's really amazing if someone has not notice can make out from my blog.....

It appears that providing endothelial cells to an organ helps that organ repair itself.   Rather than 3D printed organs or iPS cells being used to grow a new organ from scratch, organ renewal may be as simple as culturing some endothelial cells and injecting them directly into the damaged/diseased organ!  We may be closer to organ regeneration that we thought...

In studies appearing in recent issues ofStem Cell Journal and Developmental Cell, the researchers show that endothelial cells -- the cells that make up the structure of blood vessels -- are powerful biological machines that drive regeneration in organ tissues by releasing beneficial, organ-specific molecules.
They discovered this by decoding the entirety of active genes in endothelial cells, revealing hundreds of known genes that had never been associated with these cells. The researchers also found that organs dictate the structure and function of their own blood vessels, including the repair molecules they secrete.
Together, the studies show that endothelial cells and the organs they are transplanted into work together to repair damage and restore function, says the study's lead investigator, Shahin Rafii, M.D., a professor of genetic medicine and co-director of the medical college's Ansary Stem Cell Institute and Tri-SCI Stem Center. When an organ is injured, its blood vessels may not be able to repair the damage on their own because they may themselves be harmed or inflamed, says Dr. Rafii, who is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
"Our work suggests that that an infusion of engineered endothelial cells could engraft into injured tissue and acquire the capacity to repair the organ," he says. "These studies -- along with the first molecular atlas of organ-specific blood vessel cells reported in the Developmental Cell paper-- will open up a whole new chapter in translational vascular medicine and will have major therapeutic application.
"Scientists had thought blood vessels in each organ are the same, that they exist to deliver oxygen and nutrients. But they are very different," and each organ is endowed with blood vessels with unique shape and function and delegated with the difficult task of complying with the metabolic demands of that organ, Dr. Rafii adds.
Creating an endothelial cell genetic 'atlas'
In the Developmental Cell study, the research team examined nine different tissues at homeostasis -- a steady, healthy state -- as well as liver and bone marrow recovering from a traumatic injury.
The scientists developed technology that helped them obtain "a pure population of endothelial cells in a very rapid time frame," says the study's lead author, Dr. Daniel Nolan, a senior scientist in Dr. Rafii's laboratory during this study who became an employee of Angiocrine Bioscience after it was completed. AB is housed at Weill Cornell Medical College and founded on various technologies based on Dr. Rafii's work.
From these cells, they were able to take a snapshot of all the genes that are being expressed in the various populations of endothelial cells known as vascular beds.
They found that endothelial cells possess tissue-specific genes that code for unique growth factors, adhesion molecules, and factors regulating metabolism. "We knew that these gene products were critical to the health of a particular tissue, but before our study it was not appreciated that these factors originate in the endothelial cells," Dr. Nolan says.
"We also found that the healing, or regeneration of tissue, in the liver and in the bone marrow were unexpectedly different -- including the repair molecules, known as angiocrine growth factors, that were expressed by the endothelial cells," says Dr. Olivier Elemento, who performed the complex computational calculations for the studies.
Blood vessels differ among various organs because the endothelial cells have to constantly adapt to the metabolic, biomechanical, inflammatory and immunological needs of that particular organ, says Dr. Michael Ginsberg, a senior postdoctoral associate in Dr. Rafii's laboratory during this study. Ginsberg also became an employee of Angiocrine Bioscience after the study ended. "And we have now found how endothelial cells have learned to behave differently in each organ and adjust to the needs of those organs," he says.
These findings raise the question as to how endothelial cells have the capacity to adapt to the biological demands of each organ. Is it possible to design "immature" endothelial cells that could allow scientists to identify the means by which the microenvironmental cues educate them to become more specialized endothelial cells?
"Versatile endothelial cells" for organ therapy
To address this issue, the scientists postulated that endothelial cells derived from embryonic stem cells could behave as resilient endothelial cells, being able to be taught how to act like an organ-specific blood vessel. Indeed, in the Stem Cell Journalstudy, the team generated endothelial cells from mouse embryonic stem cells that were functional, transplantable and responsive to microenvironmental signals.
These embryonic-derived endothelial cells "are versatile, so they can be transplanted into different tissues, become educated by the tissue, and acquire the characteristics of the native endothelial cells," says the study's senior author, Dr. Sina Rabbany, an adjunct associate professor of genetic medicine and bioengineering in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Dr. Rabbany says researchers can propagate these cells in large numbers in the laboratory. "We now know what it takes to keep these cells healthy, stable and viable for transplantation," he says.
In fact, in the Developmental Cell study, the researchers transplanted these generic endothelial cells generated by Dr. Rabbany's team into the liver of a mouse and found that it became indistinguishable from native endothelial cells. This also occurred when cells were grafted into kidneys. "These naive endothelial cells acquire the phenotype -- the molecular profile and signature -- of the native pre-existing endothelial cells due to the unique microenvironment in the organ," Dr. Ginsberg says.
"These transplanted endothelial cells are being educated by the unique biophysical mincroenvironment organ in which they are placed. They morph into endothelial cells that belong in the organ, and that can repair it," he adds. "If you have a heart injury and you need to reform some of your cardiomyocytes, the endothelial cells that are around the heart secrete factors that are specific for helping a heart repair itself," Dr. Rabbany says.
However, to translate these studies to the clinical setting the scientists have to generate endothelial cells that have similar immune constitution -"immunocompatible" with the recipient patient. "Endothelial cells could be derived from human embryonic pluripotent stem cells as well as by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)," says Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director and physician-in-chief of the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine and director of the Stem Cell Derivation Laboratory of Weill Cornell Medical College and a co-author on the studies. "In the SCNT approach, the nucleus of a somatic cell is introduced into the human egg resulting in the generation of embryonic stem cells that would generate endothelial cells that are a genetic match of the patient," says Dr. Daylon James, assistant professor of reproductive biology at Weill Cornell, who was instrumental in designing protocols to generate endothelial cells from human embryonic stem cells.
"Alternatively, to overcome the bioethical issues associated with human embryos or eggs and potential predisposition of the embryonic stem cells to produce cancer cells, one can take cells discarded after a diagnostic prenatal amniocentesis and turn them into endothelial cells capable of repairing and regenerating blood vessels. Freezing and stockpiling such cells will allow transplantation of these cells to a genetically diverse population of patients," adds Dr. Rosenwaks, referring to work published last October in the journal Cell. Ginsberg is an inventor on this technology, which Angiocrine has licensed.
Additional preclinical investigation is required before study of endothelial cell transplantation in humans is possible, but the therapeutic potential of endothelial cell transplantation is endless, Dr. Rafii says. "They could also be used as Trojan horses to block tumor growth, they could be altered to carry toxic chemicals. They could become biological cruise missiles, directed to do many things inside diseased organs," he says. "Our work has just begun."
 via science daily

Breakthrough research has developed new bio-ink that can be used by 3D printing technology to Produce various tissue & organs

Scientists have long been working to improve methods and procedures for artificially producing tissue. In the current work, researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) in Stuttgart, Germany, developed a suitable bio-ink for 3D printing that consist of gelatin-based components from natural tissue matrix and living cells. Gelatin is a well-known biological material derived from collagen that serves as the main constituent of native tissue.

The IGB researchers were able to chemically modify the gelling behavior of the gelatin to adapt the biological molecules for printing. This allowed the bio-ink to remain fluid during printing, instead of gelling like unmodified gelatin. Once the bio-inks are irradiated with UV light, they crosslink and cure to form hydrogels – polymers containing a large amount of water (just like native tissue), but which are stable in aqueous environments and when heated to 98.6 degree Fahrenheit – the average temperature of the human body.

The chemical modification of these biological molecules can be controlled so that the resulting gels have differing strengths and swelling characteristics, allowing researchers to imitate various properties of natural tissue – from solid cartilage to soft adipose tissue.

The IGB research facility also prints synthetic raw materials that can serve as substitutes for the extracellular matrix, such as systems that cure to a hydrogel devoid of by-products, which can immediately be populated with genuine cells.

“We are concentrating at the moment on the ‘natural’ variant. That way we remain very close to the original material. Even if the potential for synthetic hydrogels is big, we still need to learn a fair amount about the interactions between the artificial substances and cells or natural tissue. Our biomolecule-based variants provide the cells with a natural environment instead, and therefore can promote the self-organizing behavior of the printed cells to form a functional tissue model,” said Dr. Kirsten Borchers in describing the approach at IGB.

The printers at IGB’s labs in Stuttgart have a lot in common with conventional office printers – the ink reservoirs and jets are all the same. The differences are only observable upon close inspection, such as the heater on the ink container with which the right temperature is set for the bio-inks. The number of jets and tanks is also smaller than those in the office counterpart.

“We would like to increase the number of these in cooperation with industry and other Fraunhofer Institutes in order to simultaneously print using various inks with different cells and matrices. This way we can come closer to replicating complex structures and different types of tissue,” said Borchers.

The researchers said their current challenge is to produce vascularized tissue that has its own system of blood vessels through which the tissue can be provided with nutrients. To reach this goal, IGB is collaborating with partners under the EU-supported Project ArtiVasc 3D, which seeks to develop a technology platform to generate fine blood vessels from synthetic materials to create artificial skin with subcutaneous adipose tissue.

“This step is very important for printing tissue or entire organs in the future. Only once we are successful in producing tissue that can be nourished through a system of blood vessels can printing larger tissue structures become feasible,” said Borchers.

The development of suitable bio-inks represents an important step towards 3D printing of tissues and organs, for which demand is expected to soar in the coming years due to an aging population and advancements in the field of transplantation medicine.

Scientist have discovered how the brain balances the number of stem cell & neuron during development

One of the major processes of brain development is the differentiation of neural stem cells into neurons and glia. It's a tricky process, because the brain also needs to make sure the stem cells don't proliferate out of control. In a new study published in Cell Reports, researchers at the University of Southern California identified a protein called SMEK1 that promotes stem and progenitor cell differentiation. But the scientists found that SMEK1 also works with a second protein known as Protein Phosphatase 4 to suppress neurogenesis. Only when new neurons are no longer being born can neural stem cells differentiate into neurons and glial cells like astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Neural stem cell treatment has been proposed for several neurodegenerative diseases, and understanding stem cell differentiation could help scientists better harness their power.

Read more:
Journal article: Protein Phosphatase 4 and Smek Complex Negatively Regulate Par3 and Promote Neuronal Differentiation of Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells. Cell Reports, 2013.

For the first time Researchers rewrite an entire genome — and add a healthy twist

“This is the first time the genetic code has been fundamentally changed,” said Farren Isaacs, assistant professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale and co-senior author of the research published Oct. 18 in the journal Science. “Creating an organism with a new genetic code has allowed us to expand the scope of biological function in a number of powerful ways.”

The creation of a genomically recoded organism raises the possibility that researchers might be able to retool nature and create potent new forms of proteins to accomplish a myriad purposes — from combating disease to generating new classes of materials.

The research — headed by Isaacs and co-author George Church of Harvard Medical School — is a product of years of studies in the emerging field of synthetic biology, which seeks to re-design natural biological systems for useful purposes.

In this case, the researchers changed fundamental rules of biology.

Proteins, which are encoded by DNA’s instructional manual and are made up of 20 amino acids, carry out many important functional roles in the cell. Amino acids are encoded by the full set of 64 triplet combinations of the four nucleic acids that comprise the backbone of DNA. These triplets (sets of three nucleotides) are called codons and are the genetic alphabet of life.

Isaacs, Jesse Rinehart of Yale, and the Harvard researchers explored whether they could expand upon nature’s handywork by substituting different codons or letters throughout the genome and then reintroducing entirely new letters to create amino acids not found in nature. This work marks the first time that the genetic code has been completely changed across an organism’s genome.

In the new study, the researchers working with E. coli swapped a codon and eliminated its natural stop sign that terminates protein production. The new genome enabled the bacteria to resist viral infection by limiting production of natural proteins used by viruses to infect cells. Isaacs — working with Marc Lajoie of Harvard, Alexis Rovner of Yale, and colleagues — then converted the “stop” codon into one that encodes new amino acids and inserted it into the genome in a plug-and-play fashion. 

The work now sets the stage to convert the recoded bacterium into a living foundry, capable of biomanufacturing new classes of “exotic” proteins and polymers. These new molecules could lay the foundation for a new generation of materials, nanostructures, therapeutics, and drug delivery vehicles, Isaacs said.

“Since the genetic code is universal, it raises the prospect of recoding genomes of other organisms,” Isaacs said. “This has tremendous implications in the biotechnology industry and could open entirely new avenues of research and applications.”

Other participating researchers from Yale University are Hans Aerni and Adrian Haimovich.

"Higgsogenesis" Proposed to Explain Dark Matter

Word of the day: HIGGSOGENESIS.

Two physicists suggest that the Higgs boson had a key role in the early universe and may have produced the observed difference between the number of matter and antimatter particles, therefore determining the density of dark matter that makes up five-sixths of the matter in the universe. They’ve called this idea Higgsogenesis 

Read more: via Scientific American magazine

Astronomers have discovered a seven planet system

Astronomers may have identified one of the richest planetary systems yet.

The planetary system lies 2,500 light-years away from Earth and may be the most crowded found so far. The seven planets orbit the dwarf star KIC 11442793 at a closer range than found in our system. One of the identifications was made by volunteers using the PlanetHunters website.

Read more:

Did you know that certain proteins from dead bacteria can alter the weather ? ....Uncovering the tricks of nature's ice-seeding bacteria

In species such as Pseudomonas syringae, special proteins embedded in their outer membranes help ice crystals to form. The bacteria use these proteins to trigger frost formation at warmer than normal temperatures on plants and then later invade the plant through the damaged tissue. When the bacteria die, many of the proteins are wafted up into the atmosphere, where they can alter the weather by seeding clouds and precipitation.
Scientists from Germany have now observed for the first time the step-by-step, microscopic-level action of P. syringae's ice-nucleating proteins locking water molecules in place to form ice. Their findings will be presented at the AVS 60th International Symposium and Exhibition, held Oct. 27 – Nov. 1 in Long Beach, California.

Read more here:
Presentation BA+AI+AS+BI+IS+NL-MoM10, "A Molecular View of Water Interacting with Climate-active Ice Nucleating Proteins," 2013.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A 3-D Printer For Liver Tissue

The first commercial 3-D bioprinter, Organovo’s NovoGen MMX Bioprinter, is manufacturing functional liver tissues that will soon help biochemists test new drugs. Here’s a look at the printing process.

The NovoGen MMX Bioprinter Photograph by Timothy Hogan

Step 1: Engineers load one syringe with a bio-ink (A) made up of spheroids that each contain tens of thousands of parenchymal liver cells and a second syringe with a bio-ink (B) containing non-parenchymal liver cells that bolster cellular development and a hydrogel that helps with extrusion.
Step 2: Software on a PC wired to the bioprinter instructs a stepper motor attached to the robotic arm to move and lower the pump head (C) with the second syringe, which begins printing a mold. The mold looks like three hexagons arranged in a honeycomb pattern.
Step 3: A matchbox-size triangulation sensor (D) sitting beside the printing surface tracks the tip of each syringe as it moves along the x-, y-, and z- axes. Based on this precise location data, the software determines where the first syringe should be positioned.
Step 4: The robotic arm lowers the pump head (E) with the first syringe, which fills the honeycomb with parenchymal cells.
Step 5: Engineers remove the well plate­ (F)—which contains up to 24 completed microtissues, each approximately 250 microns thick­—and place it in an incubator. There, the cells continue fusing to form the complex matrix of a liver tissue.

Resveratrol could help treat multiple types of cancer, study finds

Compound in grapes, red wine could help treat multiple types of cancer, study finds
Nicholl has found that resveratrol, a compound found in grape skins and red wine, can make certain tumor cells more susceptible to radiation treatment. The next step is for researchers to develop a successful method to deliver the compound to tumor sites and potentially treat many types of cancers. Credit: University of Missouri
A recent study by a University of Missouri researcher shows that resveratrol, a compound found in grape skins and red wine, can make certain tumor cells more susceptible to radiation treatment. This research, which studied melanoma cells, follows a previous MU study that found similar results in the treatment of prostate cancer. The next step is for researchers to develop a successful method to deliver the compound to tumor sites and potentially treat many types of cancers.
"Our study investigated how resveratrol and radiotherapy inhibit the survival of melanoma cells," said Michael Nicholl, assistant professor of surgery at the MU School of Medicine and surgical oncologist at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia, Mo. "This work expands upon our previous success with resveratrol and radiation in prostate cancer. Because of difficulties involved in delivery of adequate amounts of resveratrol to melanoma tumors, the compound is probably not an effective treatment for advanced melanoma at this time."
The study found that melanoma cells become more susceptible to radiation if they were treated first with resveratrol. The MU researcher found that when the cancer was treated with resveratrol alone, 44 percent of the tumor cells were killed. When the cancer cells were treated with a combination of both resveratrol and radiation, 65 percent of the tumor cells died.
Nicholl said his findings could lead to more research into the cancer-fighting benefits of the naturally occurring compound.

"We've seen glimmers of possibilities, and it seems that resveratrol could potentially be very important in treating a variety of cancers," Nicholl said. "It comes down to how to administer the resveratrol. If we can develop a successful way to deliver the compound to tumor sites, resveratrol could potentially be used to treat many types of cancers. Melanoma is very tricky due to the nature of how the cancer cells travel throughout the body, but we envision resveratrol could be combined with radiation to treat symptomatic metastatic tumors, which can develop in the brain or bone."
Resveratrol supplements are available over the counter in many health food sections at grocery stores. Nicholl does not recommend that patients rely on resveratrol supplements to treat cancer because more research is needed.
Nicholl's study was published in the Journal of Surgical Research, the journal for the Association for Academic Surgery. If additional studies are successful within the next few years, MU officials will request authority from the federal government to begin human drug development. This is commonly referred to as the "investigative new drug" status. After this status has been granted, researchers may conduct clinical trials with the hope of developing new treatments for cancer.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Scientist Uncovers Internal Clock Able to Measure Age of Most Human Tissues

The body ages, that is common knowledge – but new research now appears to have actually identified an internal ‘timepiece’ that can be used to accurately gauge the age of diverse human organs, tissues and cell types.

Looking at DNA methylation in nearly 8,000 samples from 51 types of tissue and cells taken from throughout the body, Prof. Steve Horvath was able to zero in on 353 markers that appear to change with age and which are present throughout the body. And when he decided to test his ‘clock’ by comparing a tissue’s biological age to its chronological age, it proved to be quite accurate…most of the time.

However, while most tissues’ biological ages matched their chronological ages there were some, like a woman’s breast tissue, that diverged significantly: healthy breast tissue was about two to three years ‘older’ than the rest of a woman’s body. Furthermore, in a woman with breast cancer, the healthy tissue next to the tumor was an average of 12 years older, while the tumor tissue was an average of 36 years older.

He also looked at pluripotent stem cells and found that, according to his ‘clock’, they could be considered newborns – the process of transforming a person’s cells into pluripotent stem cells seems to reset the clock to zero.

Press release:

New drug has been discovered ......which has potential to cure Parkinson's diseases

The drug is based on early research that found a class of synthetic compounds called copper bis can potentially treat Parkinson's disease and other neurogenerative conditions.

Read more: via the University of Melbourne

Monday, 21 October 2013

New medicine has been Developed that attacks HIV before it integrates with human DNA

Researchers have developed a drug that blocks HIV from inserting its genome into the DNA of the host cells - known by researchers as the point of no return. The treatment targets integrase, an enzyme essential for viral replication that doesn't exist in humans, which means there's a low risk of side effects. The therapy is now in the pre-clinical testing phase.

Read more: 


Two years ago, an international team of researchers identified a gene mutation known as C9orf72 that was responsible for up to 40% of all inherited cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS,) also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Although the researchers knew the mutation was a repeat expansion in which six nucleotides were repeated thousands of times, they didn’t know how it caused disease. In a new study published in Neuron, researchers at Johns Hopkins University showed that the C9orf72 mutation disrupts normal RNA production by attaching to RNA-binding proteins. Experiments using induced pluripotent stem cells from ALS patients carrying the C9orf72 mutation revealed that the attachment between C9orf72 and RNA-binding proteins led to the production of abnormal RNAs and hypersensitivity to stress. Treating the cells with a chemical compound that could bind to the repeat expansion led to a return to normal RNA functioning. The researchers hope to begin testing these compounds in humans with the C9orf72 mutation in the next few years.

Read more:
Journal article: RNA Toxicity from the ALS/FTD C9ORF72 Expansion Is Mitigated by Antisense Intervention. Neuron, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.

Study reveals brain ‘takes out the trash’ while we sleep

Missing a night’s sleep can make you feel lousy and fuzzy-headed. New research published in Science shows why: sleep helps your brain clear away toxins and awake in the morning refreshed and thinking clearly. Using a new imaging technique known as two photon microscopy, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) showed that, in mice, the brain’s waste removal system is nearly ten times more active at night. It’s called the glymphatic system, and this neurological garbage collector uses existing blood vessels to pump CSF into the brain and wash the neurons. As it exits the brain, it takes #toxins with it. The scientists also found that brain cells seem to shrink during sleep, which provides more space for the CSF to flow and take out the day’s trash. It’s a major step, scientists say, to understanding the ancient mystery of why we sleep.

Read more:
Journal article: Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain. Science, 2013.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

What is Nanotechnology & challenges it is going to face

Replacing the Computer Chip

Nanotechnology (nanotech) is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. The rising capabilities of nanotech are already taking effect on our world. Further advances will go on to revolutionise our technological capabilities.

Nanotechnology has been identified as being essential in the quest of solving many of the problems facing humanity.

 Listed by the Foresight Institute, Below are are the main challenges
 that nanotech is set to help to address:

1. Providing Renewable Clean Energy

2. Supplying Clean Water Globally

3. Radically Improving Health and Longevity

4. Healing and Preserving the Environment

5. Making Information Technology Available To All

6. Enabling Space Development

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Progress to Li-Fi wireless light communication with LED lights which could reach hundreds of gigabits per second and even terabits per second

Chinese scientists have had successful experiments using Li-Fi technology, where wireless signals are sent by lightbulbs, according to Xinhua News.

Four computers under a one-watt LED lightbulb may connect to the Internet under the principle that light can be used as a carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies, said Chi Nan, an IT professor at Shanghai's Fudan University. 

She explained a lightbulb with embedded microchips can produce data rates as fast as 150 Mbps, much higher than the average broadband connection in China.

Current wireless signal transmission equipment is expensive and low in efficiency, said Chi.

Cell phones need millions of base stations to strengthen the signal but most of the energy is consumed on their cooling systems. Only 5 percent of the energy is used for actually transmitting the wireless signal.

The Li-Fi Consortium offers the fastest wireless data transfer technology available. Our current solutions cover effective transmission   rates of up to 10 Gbit/s, allowing a 2 hour HDTV film to be transfered within less than 30 seconds. Smaller files are transfered instandly.

This high speed technology can be extended to several 100 Gbit/s in later versions.

The development of a series of key related pieces of technology, including light communication controls as well as microchip design and manufacturing, is still in an experimental period.

German researchers demonstated 3 Gbps LED Li-fi in the lab and 500 mbps at a trade show. They used three different colors.

Light bulbs currently flicker a few tens of thousands of times per second but the human eye cannot detect it. 

Li-fi usually only uses a percent or a few percent of light level reduction.

Li-fi could be used to transmit signal through water and could be used to transmit information through car headlights for vehicle-to-vehicle data transmission.

"In the future you will not only have 14 billion (LED) lightbulbs, you may also have 14 billion Li-Fi's deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener, and even brighter future," Haas said at the TED talk introducing the technology.

How Did Life Begin? RNA That Replicates Itself Indefinitely Developed For First Time

One of the most enduring questions is how life could have begun on Earth. Molecules that can make copies of themselves are thought to be crucial to understanding this process as they provide the basis for heritability, a critical characteristic of living systems. New findings could inform biochemical questions about how life began.

Now, a pair of Scripps Research Institute scientists has taken a significant step toward answering that question. The scientists have synthesized for the first time RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely.
The work was recently published in the journal Science.
In the modern world, DNA carries the genetic sequence for advanced organisms, while RNA is dependent on DNA for performing its roles such as building proteins. But one prominent theory about the origins of life, called the RNA World model, postulates that because RNA can function as both a gene and an enzyme, RNA might have come before DNA and protein and acted as the ancestral molecule of life. However, the process of copying a genetic molecule, which is considered a basic qualification for life, appears to be exceedingly complex, involving many proteins and other cellular components.
For years, researchers have wondered whether there might be some simpler way to copy RNA, brought about by the RNA itself. Some tentative steps along this road had previously been taken by the Joyce lab and others, but no one could demonstrate that RNA replication could be self-propagating, that is, result in new copies of RNA that also could copy themselves

In Vitro Evolution
A few years after Tracey Lincoln arrived at Scripps Research from Jamaica to pursue her Ph.D., she began exploring the RNA-only replication concept along with her advisor, Professor Gerald Joyce, M.D., Ph.D., who is also Dean of the Faculty at Scripps Research. Their work began with a method of forced adaptation known as in vitro evolution. The goal was to take one of the RNA enzymes already developed in the lab that could perform the basic chemistry of replication, and improve it to the point that it could drive efficient, perpetual self-replication.
Lincoln synthesized in the laboratory a large population of variants of the RNA enzyme that would be challenged to do the job, and carried out a test-tube evolution procedure to obtain those variants that were most adept at joining together pieces of RNA.
Ultimately, this process enabled the team to isolate an evolved version of the original enzyme that is a very efficient replicator, something that many research groups, including Joyce's, had struggled for years to obtain. The improved enzyme fulfilled the primary goal of being able to undergo perpetual replication. "It kind of blew me away," says Lincoln.
Immortalizing Molecular Information
The replicating system actually involves two enzymes, each composed of two subunits and each functioning as a catalyst that assembles the other. The replication process is cyclic, in that the first enzyme binds the two subunits that comprise the second enzyme and joins them to make a new copy of the second enzyme; while the second enzyme similarly binds and joins the two subunits that comprise the first enzyme. In this way the two enzymes assemble each other — what is termed cross-replication. To make the process proceed indefinitely requires only a small starting amount of the two enzymes and a steady supply of the subunits.
"This is the only case outside biology where molecular information has been immortalized," says Joyce.
Not content to stop there, the researchers generated a variety of enzyme pairs with similar capabilities. They mixed 12 different cross-replicating pairs, together with all of their constituent subunits, and allowed them to compete in a molecular test of survival of the fittest. Most of the time the replicating enzymes would breed true, but on occasion an enzyme would make a mistake by binding one of the subunits from one of the other replicating enzymes. When such "mutations" occurred, the resulting recombinant enzymes also were capable of sustained replication, with the most fit replicators growing in number to dominate the mixture. "To me that's actually the biggest result," says Joyce.
The research shows that the system can sustain molecular information, a form of heritability, and give rise to variations of itself in a way akin to Darwinian evolution. So, says Lincoln, "What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting."
Knocking on the Door of Life
The group is pursuing potential applications of their discovery in the field of molecular diagnostics, but that work is tied to a research paper currently in review, so the researchers can't yet discuss it.
But the main value of the work, according to Joyce, is at the basic research level. "What we've found could be relevant to how life begins, at that key moment when Darwinian evolution starts." He is quick to point out that, while the self-replicating RNA enzyme systems share certain characteristics of life, they are not themselves a form of life.
The historical origin of life can never be recreated precisely, so without a reliable time machine, one must instead address the related question of whether life could ever be created in a laboratory. This could, of course, shed light on what the beginning of life might have looked like, at least in outline. "We're not trying to play back the tape," says Lincoln of their work, "but it might tell us how you go about starting the process of understanding the emergence of life in the lab."
Joyce says that only when a system is developed in the lab that has the capability of evolving novel functions on its own can it be properly called life. "We're knocking on that door," he says, "But of course we haven't achieved that."
The subunits in the enzymes the team constructed each contain many nucleotides, so they are relatively complex and not something that would have been found floating in the primordial ooze. But, while the building blocks likely would have been simpler, the work does finally show that a simpler form of RNA-based life is at least possible, which should drive further research to explore the RNA World theory of life's origins.