Monthly Archives: April 2012

5th Annual Advances in Biomolecular Engineering Symposium

Friday, April 27, 2012 | 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
The New York Academy of Sciences

Biomolecular Engineering aims to predictably design and engineer biomolecules or bio-inspired molecules for therapeutics, biocatalysts, protein-based biosensors, and other novel functions. The Fifth Annual Advances in Biomolecular Engineering Symposium will emphasize the design of oligosaccharides and proteins for materials and energy applications.

Specifically the symposium will focus on the following areas: (1) synthetic and biosynthetic methods to prepare oligosaccharides, and the role of these macromolecules in materials science and glycobiology, (2) rational design and self-assembly of periodically sequenced polypeptides and proteins, and (3) physical and electronic properties of bio-inspired molecules.


Focus on Cancer Stem Cells

A recent cover article in The Scientist starts as follows:

In the 30-year battle waged since the initiation of the “war on cancer,” there have been substantial victories, with cures for childhood malignancies among the most important. Our ever-expanding understanding of cellular and molecular biology has provided substantial insights into the molecular underpinnings of the spectrum of diseases we call cancer. Yet, while researchers view this as tremendous progress, many patients have seen only limited improvement. In fact, the relatively modest gains achieved in treating the most common malignancies have caused some to say that we are actually losing the war on cancer.

Based on new intelligence, oncologists are making informed battle plans to attack a particularly pernicious enemy—the cancer stem cell. Controversial though they are, cancer stem cells are an incredibly promising target. If treatment-resistant cancer, and the metastases that transplant the cancer throughout the body, could be attributed to the actions of a single cell type, it could explain many of the treatment failures and provide a novel way to attack the disease.

The idea that cancers are driven by cells with “embryonic features” is an old one. Many cancers regress to a less differentiated state, expressing proteins that are usually expressed only in the embryo or during early development. It is only in the past 20 years or so, however, that additional observations led to the hypothesis that these embryonic-like cells were a separate subpopulation that fueled tumor expansion, much the same way that stem cells churn out the cells that make up a particular organ.    Rest