Researchers working to create 'protocells' - primitive synthetic cells consisting of a nucleic acid strand encased within a membrane-bound compartment - have found a solution to what could have been a critical problem, the potential incompatibility between a chemical requirement of RNA copying and the stability of the protocell membrane.
While marine microorganisms have long been identified as an untapped resource of biotechnological potential, their exploitation has been hampered by the difficulty and expense of isolating their valuable novel chemicals and molecules. This is a wasted opportunity, and is something that the MaCuMBA project aims to rectify.
Researchers have long wondered what allows blood stem cells to persist for decades, when their progeny last for days, weeks or months before they need to be replaced. Now, a study from the University of Pennsylvania has uncovered one of the mechanisms that allow these stem cells to keep dividing in perpetuity.
Biotechnologists have constructed a genetic regulatory circuit from human components that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signalizes satiety to the body. Tests on obese mice reveal that this helps them to lose weight.
Viruses are as simple as they are 'smart': too elementary to be able to reproduce by themselves, they exploit the reproductive machinery of cells, by inserting pieces of their own DNA so that it is transcribed by the host cell. To do this, they first have to inject their own genetic material into the cells they infect. Researchers have studied how this occurs and how long it takes for this process to be completed.
Scientists have glimpsed key chemical events, known as redox reactions, inside living cells of fast-growing Synechococcus. The work marks the first time that redox activity, a very fast regulatory network involved in all major aspects of a cell's operation, has been observed in specific proteins within living cells. The findings hone scientists' control over a common tool in the biofuels toolbox - a microbe that supplies some of the oxygen you breathe.
Like automobiles, ribosomes must pass through 'quality control' after their many components are assembled. Scientists investigated an important component in this control process. The researchers demonstrated that a specific protein, which occurs in all cells from yeast to humans, works like a molecular control switch and prevents incomplete ribosomes from leaving the 'assembly hall'.
Diseases affecting the kidneys represent a major and unsolved health issue worldwide. The kidneys rarely recover function once they are damaged by disease, highlighting the urgent need for better knowledge of kidney development and physiology.
Spider silk fibers are very light, extremely tough and highly stretchable. This makes them interest-ing for industrial applications. Researchers at the Biocenter of the University of Würzburg have now discovered new details about the proteins of which spider silk consists.
A polymer originally designed to help mend broken bones could be successful in delivering chemotherapy drugs directly to the brains of patients suffering from brain tumours, researchers at The University of Nottingham have discovered.
There have recently been several advancements in the world of biomaterial design and tissue validation thanks to the BIODESIGN consortium. Currently, a partnership of 19 research and clinical teams from academic centres, small biotech and large pharmaceutical companies is designing and developing state-of-the-art therapeutic approaches, with the aim to help treat traumatic damage and degenerative diseases in humans and alleviate patient suffering.