COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS

bacteria

Bacteria “Harpoon” DNA To Speed Up Their Evolution

Researchers from Indiana University (IU) have made the first direct visual observation of bacteria taking up foreign DNA from its surrounding. It is a key step in their process of rapidly evolving new traits, including troublesome drug resistance. The new methods developed by the researchers provided them with the ability to catch this mechanism on film.

synthetic tissues

Synthetic Tissues That Build Themselves

Researchers from the University of California have programmed synthetic cells to mobilize nearby natural cells into complex structures. At first, individual cells self-organized into multi-layered structures resembling simple organisms or the tissues from the first stages of embryonic development. The technology could have a bright future in repairing damaged tissue or re-growing injured organs.

3D printing

3D-Printed Sugar Structures Could Help Grow Organs

Engineers from the University of Illinois built a 3D printer that produces a delicate network of thin ribbons of hardened sugar alcohol, isomalt. These detailed biological structures are water-soluble, biodegradable glassy structures that could have multiple applications in biomedical engineering, cancer research, and device manufacturing.

Immune system cells

Developing Modern Medicines By Simulating The Human Immune System

Rather than relying on serendipity to discover novel therapeutics, today we can work intelligently to identify antibodies that target exactly what we desire. Our immune system has been refined through millions of years of evolution, and our ability to harvest its capabilities now allows us to develop intelligently designed antibody-based medicines. This new generation of biotherapeutics holds great promise in tackling diseases and conditions that were previously untreatable.

sea hare

Scientists Transferred Memories from One Snail to Another

Researchers from UCLA successfully transplanted memories by transferring RNA from one sea snail into another. They are one step closer to solving the puzzle of the physical basis of memory. In the long run, these findings could lead to treatments of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

neurons

Scientists Decode Brain Signals to Fight Chronic Disease

Researchers decoded specific signals the nervous system uses to communicate the body’s immune and inflammatory status to the brain. Understanding the “language” of the brain is a major step forward for bioelectronic medicine as it provides insight into diagnostic and therapeutic targets. The team hopes that future bioelectronic devices could replace drugs and reduce hamrful side effects.

embryo

Artificial Embryos Made From Stem Cells Initiate Pregnancy in Mice

Researchers from the Netherlands have found a way to “grow” artificial mouse blastocysts by combining different stem cells in a dish. The artificial embryos resemble natural ones so closely that, when transferred into a mouse’s uterus, they initiate pregnancy. They can easily be mass-produced and could serve as new models for drug development, possibly leading to infertility treatments and early interventions for other diseases.

mosquito malaria

Engineered Shrub Boosts Malaria Drug Artemisinin Yield

Researchers from China have modified an Artemisia annua genetic sequence to produce a higher level of a potent antimalarial compound, artemisinin. The group identified genes involved in making artemisinin in Artemisia annua and altered their activity to produce three times more drug than usual. Their work will help to meet the large global demand for artemisinin, which is also used to treat cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes.

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