Cellular functions within living organisms are extremely complex processes and researchers have been using nanopatterned substrates to control and monitor cellular functions in order to design and fabricate nanoscale biotechnological systems. Especially stem cell research has benefitted from nanopatterned surfaces to maintains stem cells' long-term viability and phenotype during experiments. Nevertheless, despite the intense scientific efforts to achieve precise control of stem cell fates with engineered nanopatterned substrates, reliable and cost effective control of stem cell behavior remains a challenge. Most of the tissues and organs in the human body, with their distinct three-dimensional structures, require support – scaffold/substrate, template, and artificial extracellular matrix or niche – for their formation from diverse cells. Researchers have now fabricated biomimetic substrates that are similar to that of the native extracellular matrix (ECM) in the epidermis which assists proliferation, differentiation, and biosynthesis of the keratinocyte (i.e. human outer skin) cells. "
An enveloped virus (left) coats itself with lipid as part of its life cycle. New lipid-coated DNA nanodevices (right) closely resemble those viruses and evade.
Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have built the first DNA nanodevices that survive the body’s immune defenses.
The results pave the way for smart DNA nanorobots that could use logic to diagnose cancer earlier and more accurately than doctors can today, target drugs to tumors, or even manufacture drugs on the spot to cripple cancer, the researchers report in the April 22 online issue of ACS Nano.
“We’re mimicking virus functionality to eventually build therapeutics that specifically target cells,” said Wyss Institute Core Faculty member William Shih, Ph.D., the paper’s senior author. Shih is also an Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor of Cancer Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The same cloaking strategy could also be used to make artificial microscopic containers called protocells that could act as biosensors to detect pathogens in food or toxic chemicals in drinking water.
DNA is well known for carrying genetic information, but Shih and other bioengineers are using it instead as a building material. To do this, they use DNA origami — a method Shih helped extend from 2D to 3D. In this method, scientists take a long strand of DNA and program it to fold into specific shapes, much as a single sheet of paper is folded to create various shapes in the traditional Japanese art.
Shih’s team assembles these shapes to build DNA nanoscale devices that might one day be as complex as the molecular machinery found in cells. For example, they are developing methods to build DNA into tiny robots that sense their environment, calculate how to respond, then carry out a useful task, such as performing a chemical reaction or generating mechanical force or movement.
In 2012 Wyss Institute researchers reported in Science that they had built a nanorobot that uses logic to detect a target cell, then reveals an antibody that activates a “suicide switch” in leukemia or lymphoma cells.
“ In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, how do we go on about designing efficient transport systems? Some innovative research claims that the answer is in slime mould... (Watch the vid!”
Via Janine Benyus
Core77.com (blog) Brought To You By Core77.com (blog) Perhaps the best example is Janine Benyus's short primer on biomimicry, in which the biologist, innovation consultant and author explains how the natural world can inspire and inform design.
A team of researchers led by scientists from the American Museum of Natural History has released the first report of widespread biofluorescence in the tree of life of fishes, identifying more than 180 species that glow in a wide range of colors and...
Doctors may soon be able to diagnose stomach ulcers without taking tissue samples from the stomach. Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark now report to have developed a new, safer and noninvasive diagnostic technique for ulcers.
By Adiel Gavish The room of homosapiens was buzzing like bees, as a diverse tribe of over 100 eco geeks, science nerds and finance dweebs met and exchanged ideas and shared interests. An enthusiastic crowd of architects, engineers, students, designers, business and finance professionals came together at Impact Hub NYC to learn more about the…
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
Dutch scientists have developed the world's smallest autonomous flapping drone, a dragonfly-like beast with 3-D vision that could revolutionise our experience of everything from pop concerts to farming.
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