Monthly Archives: February 2018

Molecular Robotics at the Wyss Institute

Collaborations between nanotechnologists, synthetic biologists, and computer scientists create nanoscale tools that could revolutionize fields from cancer diagnostics to materials science
By Lindsay Brownell

(BOSTON) — DNA has often been compared to an instruction book that contains the information needed for a living organism to function, its genes made up of sequences of the nucleotides A, G, C, and T echoing the way that words are composed of strings of letters. DNA, however, has several advantages over books as an information-carrying medium, one of which is especially profound: based on its nucleotide sequence alone, single-stranded DNA can self-assemble, or bind to a complementary DNA strand, to form a complete double-stranded helix, without human intervention. That would be like printing the instructions for making a book onto loose pieces of paper, putting them into a box with glue and cardboard, and watching them spontaneously come together to create a book with all the pages in the right order.


New research ‘Clicks’ biology and nanomaterials together

1 February 2018

Protein connecting two nanocarbons

Research at Cardiff University has built molecular bridges between nano-carbons and proteins that should inspire new approaches to generating bionano-materials.

Collaborative research between the Dafydd Jones group at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences and Queen Mary University has utilised molecular engineering to address problems in combining nano-carbons and proteins.

Nano-carbon materials, like graphene or carbon nanotubes, are considered to be the next generation of ‘wonder materials’ due to their useful molecular properties which can be valuable for nanotechnology. Similarly, proteins are vital within nature, undertaking all useful processes required for life by acting like nano-machines.

The useful properties of proteins and nano-carbon has led to great effort in marrying their properties together by combining them at a molecular level to generate biohybrid systems.

These new systems have the potential to be used in molecular electronics or health-detecting sensors, however their assembly at a molecular level has proved difficult.

Research by Cardiff University used a process in synthetic biology called Click Chemistry to solve these issues.

Dafydd Jones, Cardiff University School of Biosciences, said: “Building these new systems on a very small scale has its difficulties.

“As these biohybrid systems are entirely new, it is like trying to assemble flat-pack furniture without the instructions – you will get a jumbled product. But our research has been able to address this problem by using principles of molecular engineering.

“By using synthetic biology, we reprogrammed the genetic code for the proteins to allow us to introduce new chemistry, which is not present in nature.

By using this technique, we attached proteins to carbon nanotubes in a one-to-one manner. We used the protein as a molecular bridge, joining together the two nanotubes, using a reaction called Click Chemistry.  Rest

Cancer ‘vaccine’ eliminates tumors in mice

Activating T cells in tumors eliminated even distant metastases in mice, Stanford researchers found. Lymphoma patients are being recruited to test the technique in a clinical trial.

JAN 312018

Man in a lab coat in the foreground with a woman in the background working on a computer

Ronald Levy (left) and Idit Sagiv-Barfi led the work on a possible cancer treatment that involves injecting two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors.
Steve Fisch

Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.

The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.

“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”  Rest