Archive for the ‘chemistry’ category: Page 3

Aug 18, 2023

“The molecular weight of loneliness”: On Writing Fiction Influenced by Neuroscience

Posted by in categories: chemistry, neuroscience

I’d heard that fear of the dark is a protein, Scotophobin A, which can be isolated from the brains of rats. My Chemistry teacher told us that 1-hexanol smelled like cut grass. I watched her draw it once, on the whiteboard. A colorless liquid that, I imagined, smelled like memory, summer term, sports day, an army of ants cresting the summit of a picnic blanket, damp loam after rain.

I’d hoped that studying neuroscience would teach me all about things like that. I imagined watching sunlight refract through a conical flask, some clear liquid roiling inside. “Fear of abandonment is a sequence of seventeen peptides,” our lecturer might say, “isolated from the muscles of the heartbroken.”

“Look here,” he would say, pointing to another vial. “We can synthesize these things in a lab now. This one is awe.”

Aug 18, 2023

Decoding how molecules ‘talk’ to each other to develop new nanotechnologies

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, nanotechnology

Two molecular languages at the origin of life have been successfully recreated and mathematically validated, thanks to pioneering work by Canadian scientists at Université de Montréal.

The study, “Programming : allostery vs. multivalent mechanism,” published August 15, 2023 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, opens new doors for the development of nanotechnologies with applications ranging from biosensing, drug delivery and .

Living organisms are made up of billions of nanomachines and nanostructures that communicate to create higher-order entities able to do many essential things, such as moving, thinking, surviving and reproducing.

Aug 17, 2023

Sugars affect brain ‘plasticity,’ helping with learning, memory, recovery

Posted by in categories: chemistry, neuroscience

Can you recognize someone you haven’t seen in years, but forget what you had for breakfast yesterday? Our brains constantly rearrange their circuitry to remember familiar faces or learn new skills, but the molecular basis of this process isn’t well understood. Today, scientists report that sulfate groups on complex sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) affect “plasticity” in the brains of mice. Determining how GAGs function could help us understand how memory and learning work in humans, and provide ways to repair neural connectivity after injuries.

The researchers will present their results today at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The sugars that sweeten fruits, candies or cakes are actually just a few simple varieties of the many types of sugars that exist. When strung together, they can make a wide array of complex sugars. GAGs are formed by then attaching other chemical structures, including sulfate groups.

Aug 17, 2023

Schizophrenia Drugs May Have Been Off Target For Decades, Study Finds

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, neuroscience

A study that peered into live mouse brains suggests for nearly 70 years we’ve been targeting the wrong neurons in our design of antipsychotic drugs.

Untangling the vast web of brain cells and determining how drugs work upon them is a tough task. Using a miniature microscope and fluorescent tags, a team of researchers led by Northwestern University neuroscientist Seongsik Yun discovered that effective antipsychotic drugs cling to a different type of brain cell than scientists originally thought.

Just like research suggesting depression might not be a chemical imbalance in serotonin levels, our understanding of schizophrenia treatments may need a rethink if widely-used antipsychotics are targeting different neurons than expected.

Aug 17, 2023

Scientists Successfully Recreate and Mathematically Validate Two Molecular Languages at the Origin of Life

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, nanotechnology

Canadian researchers at the University of Montreal have successfully recreated and mathematically confirmed two molecular languages at the origin of life.

Their groundbreaking findings, recently published in the Journal of American Chemical Society, pave the way for advancements in nanotechnologies, offering potential in areas like biosensing, drug delivery, and molecular imaging.

Living organisms are made up of billions of nanomachines and nanostructures that communicate to create higher-order entities able to do many essential things, such as moving, thinking, surviving, and reproducing.

Aug 17, 2023

Organoids shown to speed glycoengineered vaccine development

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, engineering

Testing the efficacy of a vaccine candidate is typically a long process, with the immune response of an animal model taking around two months.

A multi-institution team, led by Matt DeLisa, the William L. Lewis Professor in the Smith School of Chemical Biomolecular Engineering, at Cornell Engineering, is developing a method that is more than an order of magnitude faster.

Using a biomaterials-based organoid, developed in the lab of former Cornell professor Ankur Singh, now at the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the team was able to assess the strength of the immune response in just days.

Aug 16, 2023

New PCNA inhibitor AOH1996 shows selective cancer cell killings and tumor suppression potential

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

A recent study published in the Cell Chemical Biology Journal described a small molecule inhibitor of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) that selectively kills cancer cells.

Study: Small molecule targeting of transcription-replication conflict for selective chemotherapy. Image Credit: Lightspring/

Aug 15, 2023

A New Idea for How to Assemble Life

Posted by in categories: alien life, chemistry, physics

These and other missions on the horizon will face the same obstacle that has plagued scientists since they first attempted to search for signs of Martian biology with the Viking landers in the 1970s: There is no definitive signature of life.

That might be about to change. In 2021, a team led by Lee Cronin of the University of Glasgow in Scotland and Sara Walker of Arizona State University proposed a very general way to identify molecules made by living systems—even those using unfamiliar chemistries. Their method, they said, simply assumes that alien life forms will produce molecules with a chemical complexity similar to that of life on Earth.

Called assembly theory, the idea underpinning the pair’s strategy has even grander aims. As laid out in a recent series of publications, it attempts to explain why apparently unlikely things, such as you and me, even exist at all. And it seeks that explanation not, in the usual manner of physics, in timeless physical laws, but in a process that imbues objects with histories and memories of what came before them. It even seeks to answer a question that has perplexed scientists and philosophers for millennia: What is life, anyway?

Aug 15, 2023

Electron transport chains as a window into the earliest stages of evolution

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, evolution, genetics

The origin and early evolution of life is generally studied under two different paradigms: bottom up and top down. Prebiotic chemistry and early Earth geochemistry allow researchers to explore possible origin of life scenarios. But for these “bottom–up” approaches, even successful experiments only amount to a proof of principle. On the other hand, “top–down” research on early evolutionary history is able to provide a historical account about ancient organisms, but is unable to investigate stages that occurred during and just after the origin of life. Here, we consider ancient electron transport chains (ETCs) as a potential bridge between early evolutionary history and a protocellular stage that preceded it. Current phylogenetic evidence suggests that ancestors of several extant ETC components were present at least as late as the last universal common ancestor of life. In addition, recent experiments have shown that some aspects of modern ETCs can be replicated by minerals, protocells, or organic cofactors in the absence of biological proteins. Here, we discuss the diversity of ETCs and other forms of chemiosmotic energy conservation, describe current work on the early evolution of membrane bioenergetics, and advocate for several lines of research to enhance this understanding by pairing top–down and bottom–up approaches.

Aug 15, 2023

Genetics: how they impact disease risk, what you can do about it, testing & more [AMA 50 sneak peek]

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, finance, genetics, life extension, neuroscience

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In this “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) episode, Peter delves into the realm of genetics, unraveling its connection to disease and emphasizing the value of understanding one’s genetic risks. He elucidates essential background knowledge on genetics before delving into the myriad reasons why individuals might consider genetic testing. Peter differentiates scenarios where genetic testing provides genuine insights from those where it may not be as useful. From there, Peter explores a comprehensive comparison of commercial direct-to-consumer genetic tests, providing insights on interpreting results and identifying the standout options for gaining insights into personal health.

Continue reading “Genetics: how they impact disease risk, what you can do about it, testing & more [AMA 50 sneak peek]” »

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