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Online game challenges players to design on/off switch for CRISPR

A team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has launched a new challenge for the online computer game Eterna in which players are being asked to design an RNA molecule capable of acting as an on/off switch for the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9.

Molecular biologists will then build and test the actual molecules, based on the most promising designs provided by the players.

A gene editor as powerful as CRISPR could have unexpected effects inside living cells, so it makes sense to turn it off when it’s not needed. In addition, an on/off switch might be able to put CRISPR-influenced genes on a sort of timer, activating and deactivating them on a schedule that could mimic the way we schedule taking doses of drugs.

Faking cellular suicide (The Economist) & MIT RNA News

Faking cellular suicide could help control inflammation

And that could help treat everything from hay fever to arthritis

AS PARACELSUS first pointed out in the 16th century, it is the dose that makes the poison. Inflammation, in particular, is vital to fighting infection or healing wounds. If it lingers, however, it can cause more harm than good. Chronic inflammation often impedes the very healing that it is meant to promote. Many drugs have been invented to combat that problem, but none is as effective as doctors would like. Now, as they describe in a paper in ACS Macro Letters, a team led by Mitsuhiro Ebara at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan have come up with a new approach. They have worked out how to persuade cells in inflamed tissues to believe that other cells nearby have just committed suicide. REST

Bio-inspired approach to RNA delivery

New technique could make it easier to use mRNA to treat disease or deliver vaccines.

By delivering strands of genetic material known as messenger RNA (mRNA) into cells, researchers can induce the cells to produce any protein encoded by the mRNA. This technique holds great potential for administering vaccines or treating diseases such as cancer, but achieving efficient delivery of mRNA has proven challenging.

Now, a team of MIT chemical engineers, inspired by the way that cells translate their own mRNA into proteins, has designed a synthetic delivery system that is four times more effective than delivering mRNA on its own. REST

To improve health monitoring, simply trip the ‘nanoswitch’

An easy to use, low-cost ‘NLISA’ platform for detecting biological signatures could shake up the way we monitor our health

By Kat J. McAlpine, Boston Children’s Hospital

(BOSTON) – Engineered strands of DNA — nanoscale tools called “nanoswitches” — could be the key to faster, easier, cheaper and more sensitive tests that can enable high-fidelity detection of biomarkers indicating the presence of different diseases, viral strains and even genetic variabilities as subtle as a single-gene mutation.

“One critical application in both basic research and clinical practice is the detection of biomarkers in our bodies, which convey vital information about our current health,” says Wesley Wong, PhD. “However, current methods tend to be either cheap and easy or highly sensitive, but generally not both.”

Rest

Sniffing out diseases with the Nanose

“We know that disease has a pattern of molecules in the breath. If you can detect these molecules, then you can associate them with a given disease. Dogs have a very sophisticated olfactory system; it’s 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. The Nanose started out as an idea to try to imitate the olfactory system of the dog – exactly on the same principles – and to make real-world applications with it. One of these applications is to smell disease through the breath.

“In our lab, we take the two main parts of the dog’s olfactory system, the receptors and the brain, and try to imitate them in an electrical way, using nanotechnology. The ultimate device is known as the Nano-Artificial Nose—the Nanose.  Rest

Evolving Nanoscale Communication

Today networks of smart devices have already transformed our world, and we’re just starting to connect our bodies to them in meaningful ways. We see signs that we might be able to create new bio-based networks inside our own bodies and manipulate the ones already there.

As molecular biology, nanoscale engineering and robotics converge, we may be able to use microscopic robots to target specific interactions among many natural nanoscale processes within our bodies’ cells.

In the next few decades, communication technology could take on a whole new meaning, as we gain the ability to coordinate interactions among these tiny bio-nanobots and natural human bio-electrical functions.

IFTF researcher Michael Liebhold spoke with Dr. Ian Akyildiz, a preeminent researcher in nanoscale networks. A professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and founder of the Nano Communications Center, Dr. Akyildiz has established several highly regarded research centers. Rest

Turning skin cells into blood vessel cells while keeping them young

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have identified a molecular switch that converts skin cells into cells that make up blood vessels, which could ultimately be used to repair damaged vessels in patients with heart disease or to engineer new vasculature in the lab. The technique, which boosts levels of an enzyme that keeps cells young, may also circumvent the usual aging that cells undergo during the culturing process. Their findings are reported in the journal Circulation. Rest – April 6, 2017

Twist Bioscience Expands Agt to Pursue Data Storage on DNA with Microsoft & U of Washington

SAN FRANCISCO, April 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Twist Bioscience, a company accelerating science and innovation through rapid, high-quality DNA synthesis, today announced Microsoft Corp. will purchase ten million strands of DNA from Twist Bioscience for expanded digital data storage research. The strands of DNA will be long-chain oligonucleotides used by researchers at Microsoft and the University of Washington to encode digital data at higher density. After working together for over a year, the organizations have improved storage density, thereby reducing the cost of DNA digital data storage by encoding more data per strand and increasing the throughput of DNA production. Rest

Max Planck Society congratulates Emmanuelle Charpentier on winning 2017 Japan Prize

Prestigious Japan Prize goes to Max Planck scientist for a third time

February 06, 2017 – It is often referred to as the Japanese Nobel Prize: 88 prize winners from 13 countries have received it since it was awarded for the first time in 1985 – including many later Nobel Prize Laureates. Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, and Jennifer A. Doudna from the University of California, Berkeley, receive this year’s Japan Prize for the development of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique, a type of very efficient genetic ‘scissors’. Adi Shamir, from the Weizmann Institute, Israel, is honoured for his pioneering research on cryptography. The award ceremony will take place on April 19 at the National Theater in Tokyo. Rest

European Nanomedicine Meeting 2017

3-4 April 2017, London.Gala Dinner 3 April, The Crypt, St Paul’s.

The field of Nanomedicine continues to accelerate, and several trans-European research endeavours are focused on delivering benefits to patients. Nanomedicine promises to bring about a paradigm shift in the treatment and diagnosis of disease, with emerging technologies being explored across a number of diseases and indications. After a very successful edition of the European Nanomedicine Meeting in Grenoble in 2015, the British Society for Nanomedicine is proud to work with European colleagues to host ENM2017 in London.The European Nanomedicine Meeting 2017 will take place on the 3rd and 4th of April 2017 at Kings College London, UK.

The meeting will provide a forum for international exchange of research to facilitate translation and innovation in nanomedicine research and development. Leading experts and international stakeholders will have the opportunity to discuss opportunities and challenges in this exciting new field of medicine. The meeting will provide delegates with a pulse on the latest developments, as well as a systematic understanding of new nanomedicine paradigms across the development pathway.

Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in the second edition of the European Nanomedicine Meeting in London!    MORE

Here you can download the programme

IBM: Medical labs “on a chip” as health detectives for tracing disease at the nanoscale

In 5 years, new medical labs on a chip will serve as nanotechnology health detectives – tracing invisible clues in our bodily fluids and letting us know immediately if we have reason to see a doctor. The goal is to shrink down to a single silicon chip all of the processes necessary to analyze a disease that would normally be carried out in a full-scale biochemistry lab. Rest