Kari Bruwelheide is a Forensic Anthropologist and Physical Anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Join her in understanding what skeletons can tell you about how people lived and died. Probe into the mysteries contained in human bones. See the sophisticated technologies being used to extract information from bones, and think about what technologies might enhance the study of bones in the future. Consider what an old skeleton reveals about people and places of the past. Learn how Kari is analyzing skeletal remains in conjunction with historical records and other artifacts to recreate a picture of human life in the Colonial Chesapeake. Watch Smithsonian Science How? live webcasts with Kari Bruwelheide, February 27 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST.
Engineers like to make things that work. And if one wants to make something work using nanoscale components—the size of proteins, antibodies, and viruses—mimicking the behavior of cells is a good place to start since cells carry an enormous amount of information in a very tiny packet. As Erik Winfree, professor of computer science, computation and neutral systems, and bioengineering, explains, "I tend to think of cells as really small robots. Biology has programmed natural cells, but now engineers are starting to think about how we can program artificial cells. We want to program something about a micron in size, finer than the dimension of a human hair, that can interact with its chemical environment and carry out the spectrum of tasks that biological things do, but according to our instructions."
Via Integrated DNA Technologies
The emergence of synthetic biology and DIYbio has increased the likelihood that Al Qaeda will succeed in developing biological WMDs. The low cost and significantly reduced level of necessary expertise may change how many non-state actors view biological weapons as a worthwhile investment. This is not to say that suddenly anyone can make a weapon or that it is easy. To the contrary making an effective biological weapon will still be difficult, only much easier and cheaper than it has been in the past.
Via Marko Dolinar
During harvest last year, banana farmers in Jordan and Mozambique made a chilling discovery. Their plants were no longer bearing the soft, creamy fruits they'd been growing for decades. When they cut open the roots of their banana plants, they saw something that was turning banana plants into a rotting mass. Scientists first discovered the fungus that is turning banana plants into this rotting mass in Southeast Asia in the 1990s. Since then the pathogen, known as the Tropical Race 4 strain of Panama disease, has slowly but steadily ravaged export crops throughout Asia. The fact that this vicious soil-borne fungus has now made the leap to Mozambique and Jordan is frightening. One reason is that it’s getting closer to Latin America, where at least 70% of the world’s $8.9-billion-a-year worth of exported bananas is grown.Chiquita, the $548-million fruit giant with the world’s largest banana market share, is downplaying the risk. ”It’s certainly not an immediate threat to banana production in Latin America [where Chiquita's crops are],” Ed Lloyd, spokesman for Chiquita, told the Charlotte Business Journal in late December, explaining that the company is using a “risk-mitigation program” to approach the potential spread.
Even if it takes longer to arrive, the broader ravaging of the commercial banana appears inevitable. And we don’t need to imagine what that would mean for banana exports—the exact scenario has already happened. Starting in 1903, Race 1, an earlier variant of today’s pathogen, ravaged the export plantations of Latin America and the Caribbean. Within 50 years, Race 1 drove the world’s only export banana species, the Gros Michel, to virtual extinction. That’s why 99% of the bananas eaten in the developed world today are a cultivar called the Cavendish, the only export-suitable banana that could take on Race 1 and live to tell.
Over the half-century it took to wipe out the Gros Michel, Race 1 caused at least $2.3 billion in damage (around $18.2 billion in today’s terms.) And that was in the commercial heart of global banana production. Tropical Race 4, by comparison, has damaged $400 million in banana crops in the Philippines alone.
But the bigger difference now is that, compared its 20th-century cousin, Tropical Race 4 is a pure killing machine—and not just for Cavendishes. Scores of other species that are immune to Race 1 have no defenses against the new pathogen. In fact, Tropical Race 4 is capable of killing at least 80%—though possibly as much as 85%—of the 145 million tonnes (160 million tons) of bananas and plantains produced each year, says Ploetz.
Biocides are widely used for preventing the spread of microbial infections and fouling of materials. Since their use can build up microbial resistance and cause unpredictable long-term environmental problems, new biocidal agents are required. In this study, we demonstrate a concept in which an antimicrobial polymer is deactivated by the cleavage of a single group. Following the satellite group approach, a biocidal quaternary ammonium group was linked through a poly(2-methyloxazoline) to an ester satellite group. The polymer with an octyl-3-propionoate satellite group shows very good antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive bacterial strains. The biocidal polymer was also found to have low hemotoxicity, resulting in a high HC50/MIC value of 120 for S. aureus. Cleaving the ester satellite group resulted in a 30-fold decrease in antimicrobial activity, proving the concept valid. The satellite group could also be cleaved by lipase showing that the antimicrobial activity of the new biocidal polymers is indeed bioswitchable. - - Dipl.-Ing. Christian Krumm1, - Dipl.-Chem. Simon Harmuth1, - Montasser Hijazi1, - Britta Neugebauer1, - Anne-Larissa Kampmann1, - Helma Geltenpoth2, - Prof. Dr. Albert Sickmann2, - Prof. Dr. Joerg C. Tiller1,*Article first published online: 5 MAR 2014Angewandte Chemie International EditionDOI: 10.1002/anie.201311150
The gut is a dark and hidden world. We usually only know what’s happening within it when something goes badly wrong. But there are trillions of microbes in our guts; with their first-hand experience, they’re perfectly positioned to tell us about what’s going on inside ourselves. Pamela Silver from Harvard Medical School is now training them to do that. Her team is transforming gut bacteria into journalists—microscopic reporters who cover the bowel beat.
Via Integrated DNA Technologies
“ Immortalized Fossil Fern Reveals Evolutionary Standstill LiveScience.com "The genome size of these reputed living fossils has remained unchanged over at least 180 million years — a paramount example of evolutionary stasis," the authors wrote in the...”
Via Catherine Russell
“ Confirmed: Oldest Fragment of Early Earth is 4.4 Billion Years Old LiveScience.com The ancient Australian crystals date back to just 165 million years after Earth formed, and have survived tumbling trips down rivers, burial deep in the crust,...”
Via Catherine Russell
When a person suffers a broken bone, treatment calls for the surgeon to insert screws and plates to help bond the broken sections and enable the fracture to heal. These “fixation devices” are usually made of metal alloys.But metal devices may have disadvantages: Because they are stiff and unyielding, they can cause stress to underlying bone. They also pose an increased risk of infection and poor wound healing. In some cases, the metal implants must be removed following fracture healing, necessitating a second surgery. Resorbable fixation devices, made of synthetic polymers, avoid some of these problems but may pose a risk of inflammatory reactions and are difficult to implant.Now, using pure silk protein derived from silkworm cocoons, a team of investigators from Tufts University School of Engineering and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has developed surgical plates and screws that may not only offer improved bone remodeling following injury, but importantly, can also be absorbed by the body over time, eliminating the need for surgical removal of the devices.The findings, demonstrated in vitro and in a rodent model, are described in the March 4 issue of Nature Communications. “Unlike metal, the composition of silk protein may be similar to bone composition,” says co-senior author Samuel Lin, MD, of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. “Silk materials are extremely robust. They maintain structural stability under very high temperatures and withstand other extreme conditions, and they can be readily sterilized.”
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
A new global monitoring system has been launched that promises "near real time" information on deforestation around the world.Global Forest Watch (GFW) is backed by Google and over 40 business and campaigning groups.It uses information from hundreds of millions of satellite images as well as data from people on the ground. Businesses have welcomed the new database as it could help them prove that their products are sustainable.Despite greater awareness around of the world of the impacts of deforestation, the scale of forest loss since 2000 has been significant - data from Google and the University of Maryland says the world lost 230 million hectares of trees between 2000 and 2012.Forest campaigners say this is the equivalent of 50 football fields of trees being cut down, every minute of every day over the past 12 years.One of the big problems in dealing with tree loss has been a lack of accurate information. Over the same time period as all these trees were lost, around 800,000 sq km of new forest was planted.To tackle the dearth of reliable and up to date information, the US based World Resources Institute (WRI) has led the development of GFW, using half a billion high resolution images from Nasa's Landsat program.The tool will be aimed at politicians and decision makers but also at indigenous groups.In Brazil, the Paiter Surui people are already using smart phones and GPS software to monitor illegal logging.For governments in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia, the technology could be useful in helping enforce the laws on logging that are often flouted.When tree losses are detected, alerts can be sent out to a network of partners and citizens around the world who can take action.GFW is also being backed by large businesses including Nestle and Unilever.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
“ International Business Times UK Nursery in the Sea: Marine Fossil Species Took Care of Their Young International Business Times UK "This a very rare and exciting find from the fossil record," said Professor David Siveter, Emeritus Professor of...”
Via Catherine Russell
Advances in micro- and nanoscale engineering in the medical field have led to the development of various robotic designs that one day will allow a new level of minimally invasive medicine. These micro- and nanorobots will be able to reach a targeted area, provide treatments and therapies for a desired duration, measure the effects and, at the conclusion of the treatment, be removed or degrade without causing adverse effects. Ideally, all these tasks would be automated but they could also be performed under the direct supervision and control of an external user.Several approaches have been explored for the wireless actuation of microrobots. Among these, magnetic fields have been the most widely employed strategy for propulsion because they do not require special environmental properties such as conductivity or transparency (for instance: "Artificial nano swimmers", with a video that shows the controlled motions of particles in a magnetic field).This approach allows for the precise manipulation of magnetic objects toward specific locations, and magnetic fields are biocompatible even at relatively high field strengths (MRI).In a new work, a team of researchers from ETH Zurich and Harvard University (David Mooney's lab) demonstrate that additional intelligence – including sensing and actuation – can be instantiated in these microrobots by selecting appropriate materials and methods for the fabrication process."Our work combines the design and fabrication of near infrared light (NIR) responsive hydrogel capsules and biocompatible magnetic microgels with a magnetic manipulation system to perform targeted drug and cell delivery tasks, Dr." Mahmut Selman Sakar, a research scientist in Bradley Nelson's Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich, tells Nanowerk.Reporting their results in the November 4, 2013 online edition of Advanced Materials ("An Integrated Microrobotic Platform for On-Demand, Targeted Therapeutic Interventions"), first-authored by Sakar's co-researcher Stefano Fusco, the team fabricated an untethered, self-folding, soft microrobotic platform, in which different functionalities are integrated to achieve targeted, on-demand delivery of biological agents.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Elysia chlorotica is a “solar-powered” marine sea slug that sequesters and retains photosynthetically active chloroplasts from the algae it eats and, remarkably, has incorporated algal genes into its own genetic code. It is emerald green in color often with small red or white markings, has a slender shape typical of members of its genus, and parapodia (lateral "wings") that fold over its body in life. This sea slug is unique among animals to possess photosynthesis-specific genes and is an extraordinary example of symbiosis between an alga and mollusc as well as a genetic chimera of these two organisms.To obtain algal chloroplasts Elysia chlorotica slugs use their radula (tooth) to pierce a filament of the alga Vaucheria litorea and suck out its contents. The ingested algal cytoplasm and nuclei move through the gut but algal chloroplasts are trapped and concentrated in vacuoles along branches of the digestive tract. While inside an algal cell, functional chloroplasts use proteins encoded by their own genes as well as others encoded by genes within the algal nucleus. Within a sea slug, however, isolated chloroplasts can not receive proteins from the algal genome. Remarkably, these chloroplasts remain functional anyway because the slug genome includes the algal genes necessary for plastid function. Elysia chlorotica probably gained these algal genes through lateral (or horizontal) gene transfer. One possible vector is a virus that infects the sea slug and carried pieces of algal DNA (Pierce et al., 2003).More: Scientific American blog post by Ferris Jabr.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
A new ultra-fast, ultra-small optical switch could advance the day when photons replace electrons in consumer products ranging from cell phones to automobiles. It was developed by a team of scientists from Vanderbilt University, University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.Described in the March 12 issue of the journal Nano Letters, the new optical device can turn on and off trillions of times per second. It consists of individual switches that are only 200 nanometers in diameter — much smaller than the current generation of optical switches. It overcomes one of the major technical barriers to the spread of electronic devices that detect and control light: miniaturizing the size of ultrafast optical switches.The ultrafast switch is made out of a metamaterial (artificial material) engineered to have properties that are not found in nature. The metamaterial consists of nanoscale particles of vanadium dioxide (VO2) — a crystalline solid that can rapidly switch back and forth between an opaque, metallic phase and a transparent, semiconducting phase — which are deposited on a glass substrate and coated with a “nanomesh” of tiny gold nanoparticles.The scientists report that bathing these gold nanoparticles with brief pulses from an ultrafast laser generates hot electrons in the gold particles that jump into the vanadium dioxide and cause it to undergo its phase change in a few trillionths of a second.“We had previously triggered this transition in vanadium dioxide nanoparticles directly with lasers and we wanted to see if we could do it with electrons as well,” said Richard Haglund, Stevenson Professor of Physics at Vanderbilt, who led the study. “Not only does it work, but the injection of hot electrons from the gold nanoparticles also triggers the transformation with one fifth to one tenth as much energy input required by shining the laser directly on the bare VO2.”Both industry and government are investing heavily in efforts to integrate optics and electronics, because it is generally considered to be the next step in the evolution of information and communications technology. Intel, Hewlett-Packard and IBM have been building chips with increasing optical functionality for the last five years that operate at gigahertz speeds, one thousandth that of the VO2 switch.
References: - Kannatassen Appavoo et al., Ultrafast Phase Transition via Catastrophic Phonon Collapse Driven by Plasmonic Hot-Electron Injection, Nano Letters, 2014, DOI: 10.1021/nl4044828
Natural products from bacteria and plants have played a leading role in cancer drug discovery resulting in a large number of clinically useful agents. In contrast, the investigations of fungal metabolites and their derivatives have not led to a clinical cancer drug in spite of significant research efforts revealing a large number of fungi-derived natural products with promising anticancer activity. Many of these natural products have displayed notable in vitro growth-inhibitory properties in human cancer cell lines and select compounds have been demonstrated to provide therapeutic benefits in mouse models of human cancer. Many of these compounds are expected to enter human clinical trials in the near future. The present review discusses the reported sources, structures and biochemical studies aimed at the elucidation of the anticancer potential of these promising fungal metabolites.
Antonio Evidente,a Alexander Kornienko,b Alessio Cimmino,a Anna Andolfi,a Florence Lefranc,c Véronique Mathieud and Robert Kiss*d
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.