Two new studies identify the processes and cellular pathways that allow cells to move, stiffen, and react to physical stresses. This knowledge, researchers hope, could reveal the causes of cancer and help develop treatments, including therapies for a variety of diseases.
Synthetic genetic circuitry created by researchers at Rice University is helping them see, for the first time, how to regulate cell mechanisms that degrade the misfolded proteins implicated in Parkinson's, Huntington?s and other diseases.
Picture an industrial-sized manufacturing plant in which workers are turning out a valuable chemical product, say a pharmaceutical drug, or an exotic material such as a truly biodegradable plastic, or a clean-burning carbon-neutral transportation fuel. Now picture that plant as being void of smokestacks venting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, or receptacles for the collecting of toxic, non-recyclable waste. This is the promise of biomanufacturing.
A long-standing challenge in synthetic biology has been to create gene circuits that behave in predictable and robust ways. Mathematical modeling experts collaborated with experimental biologists to create a synthetic genetic clock that keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures.
DNA encodes the information necessary to make all the proteins in a cell, but the vast majority of the DNA in a cell is non-coding DNA, in the past sometimes referred to as 'junk' DNA. Recent research has identified non-coding DNA sequences that are found in nearly all plants and appear to have roles in basic processes such as tissue and organ development, response to hormones, and regulation of gene expression.
Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In order to investigate inflammation, tumors or stem cells, medical practitioners analyze living cells. Non-invasive optical procedures such as Raman spectroscopy accelerate this procedure. Researchers have now developed it to industrial scale.