Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of an organism to study is its brain, as it can be thought to be at the core of identity. The brain allows for complex functions such as memory and associations to exist. Evolutionarily, this has allowed for social interactions to form the basis of groups and eventually allow for large numbers of individuals to live together in communities.
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
New research suggests that some of the additives that extend the shelf life and improve the texture of processed foods may have harsh side effects on the human gut microbiome. The rise in deadly cases of a terrible gut infection caused by Clostridium difficile is the outcome of adding the sugar trehalose to almost all of our processed food.