Bioengineers at Harvard have developed a gel-based sponge that can be molded to any shape, loaded with drugs or stem cells, compressed to a fraction of its size, and delivered via injection. Once inside the body, it pops back to its original shape and gradually releases its cargo, before safely degrading.
In a move that could potentially revolutionise major UK industries and help us to meet serious social and environmental challenges, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has announced an unprecedented GBP 20m worth of synthetic biology projects.
Scientists studying the genes and proteins of human cells infected with a common cold virus have identified a new gene identification technique that could increase the genetic information we hold on animals by around 70 to 80 per cent. The findings could revolutionise our understanding of animal genetics and disease, and improve our knowledge of dangerous viruses such as SARS that jump the species barrier from animals to humans.
New antibiotic and anti-cancer chemicals may one day be synthesised using biotechnology, following CSIRO?s discovery of the three genes that combine to provide soldier beetles with their potent predator defence system.
A new power-free microfluidic chip developed by researchers at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute (ASI) enables detection of microRNA from extremely small sample volume in only 20 minutes. By drastically reducing the time and quantity of sample required for detection, the chip lays the groundwork for early-stage point-of-care diagnosis of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's.
The doctoral dissertation of Milja Vepsäläinen, M.Sc. (microbiology), prepared at the Finnish Environment Institute, involved developing a test pattern designed to measure soil biological diversity. The aim is to measure the activity potential of enzymes produced by soil microbes.
A team of scientists researching the effect of long-term molecular evolution (the study of DNA, RNA and proteins) have produced findings which suggest most amino-acid substitutions have different fitness effects in different species. This is an important breakthrough as there is now evidence to show that a genetic background determines whether a modification, which is the main factor regulating evolution at the level of proteins, is beneficial, harmful or inconsequential.
DNA sequence data is an indispensable source of research information in biology. But not all data are reliable. Almost 10% of all fungal DNA sequences are, for example, incorrectly identified to species level. A international team of researchers, with it?s core at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has therefore prepared a guide to assist the scientific community in the quality control process.