A mutation that allows cells to grow out of control could also provide a new way to target and destroy cancer cells. This potential Achilles’ heel comes from a mutation in a gene called PTEN, which is found in a wide range of cancers.
PTEN is one of many tumor suppressor genes that we have to prevent our cells from growing out of control. If the PTEN gene stops working because of a mutation, it can cause tumours to develop – indeed many tumors have a mutated form of PTEN. However when a door closes, a window opens: the PTEN mutation helps the tumor to grow, but it could also mark it out as a target.
Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, found that switching off another gene known as NLK (Nemo-like kinase) killed tumor cells that had the PTEN mutation. This makes NLK a good target for drug developers to create a new cancer treatment.
Initially, the researchers took samples of tumor cells with and without the mutation, and switched off genes for important proteins that are used for regulating lots of processes in the cell. To do this they used small interfering RNA (or siRNA) which interfere with the processes of specific genes. These siRNAs block the chain of events that allow a gene to produce a protein, effectively switching it off. By switching off 779 genes individually, they could look for ones where cells with the PTEN mutation died and cells without the mutation survived.
This is how the researchers discovered the powerful effect of switching off the NLK gene. They are not certain how this works but it appears to protect a protein called FOXO1 that can act as a backup tumor suppressor and cause the cancer cell to die. When PTEN is mutated, the FOXO1 protein becomes vulnerable to a process called phosphorylation, which means it is ejected from the cell nucleus and destroyed. NLK is one of the proteins that phosphorylates FOXO1 and so by switching off the NLK gene, FOXO1 is able to do its job.
Would it be possible to integrate biological components with advanced robotics, using biological cells to do machine-like functions and interface with an electronic nervous system — in effect, creating an autonomous, multi-cellular biohybrid robot? Researchers Orr Yarkoni, Lynn Donlon, and Daniel Frankel, from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Newcastle University think so, and they’ve developed an interface to allow communication between the biological and electronic components. One of the major challenges in developing biohybrid devices is in the interface between biological and electronic components. Most cellular signals are simply not compatible with electronics.
However, manipulation of signal transduction pathways is one way to interface cells with electronics. So the researchers genetically engineered protein cells from a Chinese hamster ovary to produce nitric oxide (NO) in response to visible light. Here’s how:
1. They genetically engineered the nitric oxide synthase protein eNOS by inserting a light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domain into the gene. This created a photoactive version of the eNOS protein that could produce NO in response to excitation by visible light.
2. They attached these mutant cells to a nickel tetrasulfonated phthalocyanine (NiTSPc)-modified platinum electrode that detected the NO and converted it into an electrical signal.
In summary: The researchers converted an optical signal into a chemical signal (NO), and converted the chemical signal into an electrical signal. This signal could, in turn, be used to control a robot. Unlike solid-state photodetectors, the cells have the ability to self-reproduce and the potential to combine input signals to perform computation. With rapid advances in synthetic biology, manipulation of metabolic pathways to integrate with machinery will some day allow the development of advanced robotics, the researchers suggest.
The virtual home of Grizedale Arts, a new idea for an art institution which exists as a growing network of projects and ideas brought together through this website.
Grizedale Arts is a curatorial project in a continuous state of development, based in the historic site of Lawson Park farm above the Coniston valley in the lake district. The site is run as a productive small holding and working farm house, with an ongoing programme of events, projects, residencies and community activity which develop the contemporary arts in new directions.
Hedonistika will be a three-day, multi-modal event held in Montréal, CA that brings together food scholars, artists, and roboticists to examine the innumberable (and often hidden) ways in which technology and food are related. By engaging with the hegemony-challenging ideology of hacking, participants will seek to interrogate and expose the mutually constructive bonds of food and tech, while proposing alternative, playful, and stimulating reconfigurations. Part festival, part workshop, and part symposium, Hedonistika will merge research-creation with critical analysis, and community engagement with celebration. (Plus, it will taste and look really cool.)
Hedonistika is looking for projects and individuals that explore the critical issues within these realms. The curators are accepting proposals for robotics, installation and performance work, completed or not for exhibition in the festival portion of the event. Artists should submit a pdf document comprised of…
Hedonistika is scheduled for 2013 in Montreal and will be an Elektra sponsored event. Please e-mail submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline January 15th, 2013
The World Science Festival is a production of the Science Festival Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in New York City. The Foundation’s mission is to cultivate a general public informed by science, inspired by its wonder, convinced of its value, and prepared to engage with its implications for the future.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Canada Council for the Arts New Media Initiative... discontinued.
Previously this initiative provided support to scientists, engineers and artists are creating novel and mutually beneficial ways of thinking and working collaboratively across their disciplines, making innovative contributions to science, the arts and industry.
Sloan Science and Film is a website devoted to exploring the intersection of science and film, and enhancing the public understanding of science and technology. It features award-winning science-themed short films that have been supported by grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, videos of discussions with filmmakers and scientists, news about the Sloan Film Program’s awards and activities, and original articles exploring the cinematic depictions of scientific ideas and the portrayal of scientists and engineers in film and television.
In the series Dialogues on “Bioart”, I will speak about these and other issues with curators, artists, cultural workers and other professionals who deal with "Bioart" in different ways and have been working in this field for a number of years.
Robbing the poor, trashing the natural world: Europe’s farm subsidies are an obscenity. By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 27th November 2012 There’s a neat symmetry in the numbers which helped to sink the European summit.
After Agri is a collaborative investigation between Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton. Their collaboration looks at the future evolutions of our food systems, asking What new cultural revolution will replace agriculture? How will our species and civilisation be transformed?
A Journal of Performance and Art celebrates the growing discourse on this topic in an evening entitled “Neuroscience and the Arts today: Shared Interfaces.” The discussion features contributions by visual artists, a dance therapist, a musician, an author, and a neuroscientist. Artist Ellen K. Levy will moderate the event.
A science museum or a science centre is a museum devoted primarily to science. Older science museums tended to concentrate on static displays of objects related to natural history, paleontology, geology, industry and industrial machinery, etc. Modern trends in museology have broadened the range of subject matter and introduced many interactive exhibits. Many if not most modern science museums - which increasingly refer to themselves as 'science centres' or 'discovery centres' - also put much weight on technology. One main aspect of science ignored in most museums is the history of the discipline. The search for knowledge is full of trials and errors but science museums hardly ever acknowledge that human frailty and mistakes go along with a history that has lasted centuries.
"...The public museum as understood today is a collection of specimens and other objects of interest to the scholar, the man of science as well as the more casual visitor, arranged and displayed in accordance with the scientific method. In its original sense, the term 'museum' meant a spot dedicated to the muses - 'a place where man's mind could attain a mood of aloofness above everyday affairs.'" — Museum of Jurassic Technology, Introduction & Background, p. 2
As early as the Renaissance, many aristocrats collected curiosities for display to their friends. Universities and particularly medical schools also maintained study collections of specimens for their students. Scientists and collectors displayed their finds in private cabinets of curiosities. Such collections were the predecessors of modern natural history museums. The Utrecht University Museum, among others, still displays an extensive collection of 18th-century animal and human "rarities" in its original setting.
The Exploratorium isn't just a museum, it's an ongoing exploration of science, art, and human perception--a vast collection of online interactives, web features, activities, programs and events that feed your curiosity.