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Apr 7, 2020

Potential therapy for rare neurologic disease

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

A targeted therapy, currently being studied for treatment of certain cancers including glioblastoma, may also be beneficial in treating other neurologic diseases, a study at the University of Cincinnati shows.

The study, being published online April 6 in the journal EBioMedicine, revealed that the effects of a delivery system using microscopic components of a cell (nanovesicles) called SapC-DOPS may be able to provide targeted treatment without harming healthy . This method could even prove to be successful in treating other , like Parkinson’s disease.

This study is led by Xiaoyang Qi, professor in the Division of Hematology Oncology, UC Department of Internal Medicine, and Ying Sun, research professor in the UC Department of Pediatrics and a member of the Division of Human Genetics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Apr 7, 2020

Supermoon LIVE stream: How to watch the Pink Supermoon here TONIGHT

Posted by in category: space

🏺Super Pink Moon

Fyodor R., Credits article input Oscar Cainer, photography taken in North America, yesterday, by Richard S., one of our members.

Continue reading “Supermoon LIVE stream: How to watch the Pink Supermoon here TONIGHT” »

Apr 7, 2020

Blood Is the Next Critical Tool In the Coronavirus Fight. Here’s Why

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The symptoms match up with coronavirus infection. But like many people in the US, because they’re relatively mild I’m unable to get a test. Testing rates have finally skyrocketed recently, yet per capita we’re still lagging behind, leaving many wondering—myself included—if we truly caught the Covid-19 bug.

That’s a problem.

Knowing the amount of people who have already recovered from the disease would be a game-changer, not just for personal peace of mind but for society as a whole. Although we don’t yet fully understand how long the virus confers immunity for, it’s likely—though severely understudied —that infected and recovered people already have protective immunity. It means that virus-killing antibodies are circulating in our blood, ones that could potentially be harnessed for people with more severe cases; we could be walking anti-coronavirus drug factories.

Apr 7, 2020

Researchers devise treatment that relieved depression in 90% of participants in small study

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

A new form of magnetic brain stimulation rapidly relieved symptoms of severe depression in 90% of participants in a small study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers are conducting a larger, double-blinded trial in which half the participants are receiving fake treatment. The researchers are optimistic the second trial will prove to be similarly effective in treating people whose condition hasn’t improved with medication, talk therapy or other forms of electromagnetic stimulation.

The treatment is called Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy, or SAINT. It is a form of , which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of . The researchers reported that the therapy improves on current FDA-approved protocols by increasing the number of magnetic pulses, speeding up the pace of the treatment and targeting the pulses according to each individual’s neurocircuitry.

Apr 7, 2020

Coffee grounds show promise as wood substitute in producing cellulose nanofibers

Posted by in category: sustainability

The world generates over six million tons of coffee grounds, according to the International Coffee Organization. The journal Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported in 2012 that over half of spent coffee grounds end up in landfills. Cellulose nanofibers are the building blocks for plastic resins that can be made into biodegradable plastic products.

The YNU team, led by Izuru Kawamura, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Engineering Science, set out to build upon previous research into extracting nanofibers from grounds. They published their findings on April 1 in the journal Cellulose.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish a sustainable recycling system with our cellulose nanofibers in the coffee industry,” Kawamura said. “Now, more and more restaurants and cafés have been banned from using single-use straws. Following that movement, we aim to make a transparent disposable coffee cup and straw with an additive comprising cellulose nanofibers from spent coffee grounds.”

Apr 7, 2020

Deepmind AI can understand the unusual atomic structure of glass

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Glass has an unusual atomic structure that resembles a liquid frozen in place, making it hard to predict how it will behave. DeepMind has developed an AI capable of doing so, which may also be able to predict traffic jams.

Apr 7, 2020

Google research makes for an effortless robotic dog trot

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

As capable as robots are, the original animals after which they tend to be designed are always much, much better. That’s partly because it’s difficult to learn how to walk like a dog directly from a dog — but this research from Google’s AI labs make it considerably easier.

The goal of this research, a collaboration with UC Berkeley, was to find a way to efficiently and automatically transfer “agile behaviors” like a light-footed trot or spin from their source (a good dog) to a quadrupedal robot. This sort of thing has been done before, but as the researchers’ blog post points out, the established training process can often “require a great deal of expert insight, and often involves a lengthy reward tuning process for each desired skill.”

That doesn’t scale well, naturally, but that manual tuning is necessary to make sure the animal’s movements are approximated well by the robot. Even a very doglike robot isn’t actually a dog, and the way a dog moves may not be exactly the way the robot should, leading the latter to fall down, lock up or otherwise fail.

Apr 7, 2020

Multiplexed single-molecule enzyme activity analysis for counting disease-related proteins in biological samples

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

We established an ultrasensitive method for identifying multiple enzymes in biological samples by using a multiplexed microdevice-based single-molecule enzymatic assay. We used a paradigm in which we “count” the number of enzyme molecules by profiling their single enzyme activity characteristics toward multiple substrates. In this proof-of-concept study of the single enzyme activity–based protein profiling (SEAP), we were able to detect the activities of various phosphoric ester–hydrolyzing enzymes such as alkaline phosphatases, tyrosine phosphatases, and ectonucleotide pyrophosphatases in blood samples at the single-molecule level and in a subtype-discriminating manner, demonstrating its potential usefulness for the diagnosis of diseases based on ultrasensitive detection of enzymes.

Cellular functions are mediated by the activities of diverse enzymes, and hence, determining the functional changes that occur in these enzymes during pathogenesis is crucial for understanding and detecting diseases (1). However, the detection sensitivity of conventional assays for discovering and using enzyme biomarkers for diagnosis needs to be improved. In case of DNA and RNA analysis, enhancing the sensitivity of detection to the single-molecule level has revolutionized biomarker discovery and usage (2). However, the detection methods for proteins, which are thought to contain more functionality-oriented information that can be directly linked to the phenotypes, are yet to attain such a high degree of sensitivity (3).

In this study, we developed a novel assay platform for comprehensively detecting multiple enzymes in biological samples at single protein level for ultrasensitive and quantitative profiling of the disease-related enzymatic activities. This method is based on single-molecule enzyme analysis performed in a microfabricated chamber device, in which single-molecule enzymes in a diluted biological sample are separately loaded into individual microchambers for measuring and detecting its activity (4, 5). Although conventional single-molecule analysis is commonly used to study the biochemical properties of specific enzymes, their application for analyzing biological samples containing complex mixtures of characterized and uncharacterized proteins remains challenging, as it is difficult to predict which enzyme is loaded into each chamber due to random distribution.

Apr 7, 2020

New genetic engineering strategy makes human-made DNA invisible

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Scientists can identify pathogenic genes through genetic engineering. This involves adding human-made DNA into a bacterial cell. However, the problem is that bacteria have evolved complex defense systems to protect against foreign intruders — especially foreign DNA. Current genetic engineering approaches often disguise the human-made DNA as bacterial DNA to thwart these defenses, but the process requires highly specific modifications and is expensive and time-consuming.

In a paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, Dr. Christopher Johnston and his colleagues at the Forsyth Institute describe a new technique to genetically engineer bacteria by making human-made DNA invisible to a bacterium’s defenses. In theory, the method can be applied to almost any type of bacteria.

Johnston is a researcher in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and lead author of the paper. He said that when a bacterial cell detects it has been penetrated by foreign DNA, it quickly destroys the trespasser. Bacteria live under constant threat of attack by a virus, so they have developed incredibly effective defenses against those threats.

Apr 7, 2020

Self-Healing Pipelines

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

Circa 2006

Fixing leaking pipelines can be tricky and expensive. But now engineers at a company in Aberdeen, Scotland, have developed a novel way to get the job done. It involves using artificial platelets inspired by the way our blood clots when we get cut.

The platelets, actually small pieces of polymeric or elastomeric material, are introduced into the pipeline upstream and use the flow of the fluid to carry them down the pipe toward the leak. There the pressure forcing the fluid out of the leak causes the platelets to amass at the point of rupture, clogging up the escaping fluid in the process, says Klaire Evans, sales and marketing engineer with Brinker Technology, which is developing the technology.

The method has been tested on a handful of pipelines owned by BP and Shell. According to Sandy Meldrum, an engineer with BP, in Aberdeen, the technology was used to fix a leak in an undersea water injection pipe at an oil field near the Scottish Shetland Isles. Normally this kind of leak would have to be fixed using remotely operated vehicles, whose operators would place a clamp over the leak. But by using Brinker’s technology, BP saved about $3 million, says Meldrum.