Slow and Steady Drug Delivery Keeps Biomedical Devices Kicking

Researchers from MIT have developed a novel method to locally deliver drugs and prevent immune activity around implanted biomedical devices over several months. The method is based on the formation of crystals of immunosuppressive drugs, which can be included in devices and slowly dissolve over the course of months. While this method substantially increases the length of time tested devices can function, difficulty of crystallizing certain drugs or introducing them into specific devices may prove to be a challenge in adapting this method to other systems. Even so, for many cases, this method will likely substantially reduce the difficulty of maintaining device stability for extended periods of time. Continue reading Slow and Steady Drug Delivery Keeps Biomedical Devices Kicking

Genetic tools create new opportunities for decoding protein structures

Proteins are made up of linear sequences of amino acids but understanding how these amino acids fold to form a three-dimensional structure is notoriously difficult. Knowing what a protein looks like in 3D is often necessary for understanding how it functions and how it can be manipulated. For instance, understanding how proteins such as antibodies bind to viruses like the flu would enable scientists to … Continue reading Genetic tools create new opportunities for decoding protein structures

Pigs & Immortality: A Step Towards Reversing Death

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine have developed a system capable of sustaining certain aspects of brain function for several hours, even if the host animal has been dead for up to four hours beforehand. While this by no means suggests that complete restoration of neurological function is on the horizon, it reveals the surprising resilience of post-mortem brain tissue, introduces a promising technique that could allow scientists to study certain biological functions outside of live animals, and highlights the important ethical considerations that must be discussed before any potential complete resuscitation of neurological activity is achieved. Continue reading Pigs & Immortality: A Step Towards Reversing Death

Scientists create an expanded 8-letter DNA genetic code

Each cell in a living organism has an instruction manual known as the genome. These instructions are spelled out using letters, called bases, that pair with one another to form long double-stranded molecules of helical DNA. Life as we know it uses 4 bases called A, C, T, and G. Recently, scientists expanded this alphabet to include 8 bases – 4 natural and 4 artificial. … Continue reading Scientists create an expanded 8-letter DNA genetic code

Nano-antidote provides long-term protection against nerve agents

Nerve agents are toxic chemicals that disrupt signals in the nervous system. They can be absorbed easily through skin contact or by breathing. Exposure to nerve agents interferes with nerve cell signaling and prevents muscles from relaxing, quickly leading to muscle paralysis and eventually death by asphyxiation or cardiac arrest. Treatment is possible but must be administered within minutes of exposure. No long-term vaccine or … Continue reading Nano-antidote provides long-term protection against nerve agents

Biologists and Physicists Work Together to Image Subcellular Interactions Like Never Before

Antibiotics, while life-saving, can also wreak havoc on healthy systems. The drugs work by attacking the protein-synthesizing center (ribosomes) in bacteria. When the ribosomes in human cells are mistaken for bacterial ribosomes, antibiotics can cause a range of side effects from nausea to kidney failure. To understand what conditions cause healthy cells to be attacked, scientists are implementing novel imagining techniques to study interactions between … Continue reading Biologists and Physicists Work Together to Image Subcellular Interactions Like Never Before

Expanding the genetic alphabet

Since the beginning of time, the genetic alphabet in all living things has consisted of 4 letters. Now, scientists have discovered a way to expand the genetic code to store and use orders of magnitude more information than ever before. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the cellular instructions for proteins: little machines in your cells that perform important functions. DNA normally contains 4 nucleotides (A, T, … Continue reading Expanding the genetic alphabet

Human blood cells

Scientists Learn to 3D Print Cells One Drop at A Time

3D printing is poised to become a major technological advancement in treating injuries and illnesses that cause tissue damage. For scientists, creating artificial tissue with 3D printing has been a challenge. As the 3D printed structure grows in size, cells often move and compromise the tissue’s structural integrity. New work from Oxford University addresses this problem. By encasing cells in nanoliter sized droplets of fat molecules, researchers are able … Continue reading Scientists Learn to 3D Print Cells One Drop at A Time

Shrink to grow: on the road towards a 57-codon bacterium

“Shrink to grow” is a two-pronged business strategy where a company gets rid of unprofitable brands (“shrink”) to focus its resources on a few remaining or new brands (“grow”). Companies like P&G and Microsoft have used it, and a similar idea to “shrink to grow” is behind the George Church lab’s ongoing development of the synthetic bacteria rEcoli57. But while the executives at P&G were … Continue reading Shrink to grow: on the road towards a 57-codon bacterium

Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production

Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a fast-growing bacterial cell with a nearly-minimal number of genes necessary for survival – just 473 in total. These genes were entirely synthesized – not transplanted from a grown organism – and the creation of such a cell may allow big steps forward in gene function identification and efficient mass-production of biological molecules. Continue reading Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production