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A protein ‘passport’ that helps nanoparticles get past immune system

A protein ‘passport’ that helps nanoparticles get past immune system | Nature and Science | Scoop.it

Macrophages — literally, "big eaters" — are a main part of the body's innate immune system . These cells find and engulf invaders, like bacteria, viruses, splinters and dirt. Unfortunately, macrophages also eat helpful foreigners, including nanoparticles that deliver drugs or help image tumors.


Along with members of his lab, Dennis Discher, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, has developed a "passport" that could be attached to therapeutic particles and devices, tricking macrophages into leaving them alone. 

Taking a cue from a membrane protein that the body's own cells use to tell macrophages not to eat them, the researchers engineered a the simplest functional version of that protein and attached it to plastic nanoparticles. These passport-carrying nanoparticles remained in circulation significantly longer than ones without the peptide, when tested in a mouse model.

 

In 2008, Discher’s group showed that the human protein CD47, found on almost all mammalian cell membranes, binds to a macrophage receptor known as SIRPa in humans. Like a patrolling border guard inspecting a passport, if a macrophage’s SIRPa binds to a cell’s CD47, it tells the macrophage that the cell isn’t an invader and should be allowed to proceed on.

 

“There may be other molecules that help quell the macrophage response,” Discher said. “But human CD47 is clearly one that says, ‘Don’t eat me’.” Since the publication of that study, other researchers determined the combined structure of CD47 and SIRPa together. Using this information, Discher’s group was able to computationally design the smallest sequence of amino acids that would act like CD47. This “minimal peptide” would have to fold and fit well enough into the receptor of SIRPa to serve as a valid passport. After chemically synthesizing this minimal peptide, Discher’s team attached it to conventional nanoparticles that could be used in a variety of experiments. “Now, anyone can make the peptide and put it on whatever they want,” Rodriguez said.

 

The research team’s experiments used a mouse model to demonstrate better imaging of tumors and as well as improved efficacy of an anti-cancer drug-delivery particle.

 

As this minimal peptide might one day be attached to a wide range of drug-delivery vehicles, the researchers also attached antibodies of the type that could be used in targeting cancer cells or other kinds of diseased tissue. Beyond a proof of concept for therapeutics, these antibodies also served to attract the macrophages’ attention and ensure the minimal peptide’s passport was being checked and approved.

 

Video is here: http://tinyurl.com/b6dthgb


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Radical Shifts in Energy Policies Ignite Global Green Economy | EcoWatch.org

Radical Shifts in Energy Policies Ignite Global Green Economy | EcoWatch.org | Nature and Science | Scoop.it

A new partnership launched today by four United Nations (UN) agencies aims to support 30 countries over the next seven years in building national green economy strategies that will generate new jobs and skills, promote clean technologies, and reduce environmental risks and poverty.

 

The new Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), is a response to the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), The Future We Want, which recognizes the green economy as a vehicle for sustainable development and poverty eradication.

 

Governments at Rio+20 called on UN agencies to support countries interested in accelerating their transition to an inclusive green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

 

The four UN agencies—United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)—will provide a comprehensive suite of green economy services that will enable countries to transform their national economic structures to meet the growing demands and challenges of the 21st century.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Colorado orders bankrupt solar-panel maker to dispose of hazardous waste

Colorado orders bankrupt solar-panel maker to dispose of hazardous waste | Nature and Science | Scoop.it
A Colorado solar-panel maker, which spent $70 million of a $400 million federal loan guarantee from the Energy Department before going bankrupt last year, is now being ordered to clean up hazardous waste at four storage facilities filled with...
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For the first time ever, astrophysicists have reliably measured the spinning speed of a supermassive black hole

For the first time ever, astrophysicists have reliably measured the spinning speed of a supermassive black hole | Nature and Science | Scoop.it

A team of scientists led by Harvard astronomer Guido Risaliti recounts its findings in the latest issue of Nature. The researchers accomplished the feat by measuring electromagnetic radiation emanating from the center of spiral galaxy NGC 1365. There — not unlike the center of our own Milky Way — a spherical region of spacetime more than 2 million miles in diameter whirls violently, its gravity so strong it actually schleps surrounding space along with it. Any matter that trespasses beyond the black hole's event horizon spirals inward and collects in what's known as an accretion disc, where it is subjected to so much friction it emits X-rays.

 

Thanks to a joint effort by the ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's recently launched NuSTAR (both X-ray observatories, positioned in Earth orbit), Risaliti and his colleagues were able to locate the inner boundary of the accretion disc. Sometimes known as the Innermost Stable Circular Orbit, the position of this accretion disc "edge" depends on the speed of the black hole's overall rotation. The astronomers used this relationship to calculate the spin rate of the black hole's surface, which they estimate is is traveling at nearly the speed of light — about 84% as fast, to be exact.

 

In a statement, Risaliti says that it is "the first time anyone has accurately measured the spin of a supermassive black hole," but insists that even more important is what his team's findings can tell us about this black hole's past, and the developmental history of its surrounding galaxy.

 

The spin of a black hole is thought to be affected by the way it pulls in matter. It stands to reason, for example, that a black hole that subsumes gas and stars at random is more likely to fetter its angular momentum than add to it. According to Risaliti and his team, that the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 1365 is spinning at speeds approaching the cosmic speed limit would suggest it acquired mass through ordered accretion, as opposed to multiple random events.

 

For more details, visit SPACE.com, where Mike Wall has a great overview of the role that NASA's NuSTAR (launched in July of last year) has played in resolving a longstanding debate over the implications of X-ray emission patterns emanating from black holes.

 

"It's the first time that we can really say that black holes are spinning," said study co-author Fiona Harrison in an interview with Wall. "The promise that this holds for being able to understand how black holes grow is, I think, the major implication."


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Next Generation Solar Cells Made From Graphene -- One Photon Can Be Converted Into Multiple Electrons

Next Generation Solar Cells Made From Graphene -- One Photon Can Be Converted Into Multiple Electrons | Nature and Science | Scoop.it

A new discovery by researchers at the ICFO has revealed that graphene is even more efficient at converting light into electricity than previously known. Graphene is capable of converting a single photon of light into multiple electrons able to drive electric current. The discovery is an important one for next-generation solar cells, as well as other light-detecting and light-harvesting technologies.

 

A paradigm shift in the materials industry is likely within the near-future as a variety of unique materials replaces those that we commonly use today, such as plastics. Among these new materials, graphene stands out. The single-atom-thick sheet of pure carbon has an enormous number of potential applications across a variety of fields. Its potential use in high-efficiency, flexible, and transparent solar cells is among the potential applications. Some of the other most discussed applications include: foldable batteries/cellphones/computers, extremely thin computers/displays, desalination and water purificationtechnology, fuel distillation, integrated circuits, single-molecule gas sensors, etc.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Edward Miller's curator insight, March 20, 2013 10:00 PM

With this discovery of Graphene able to conduct electricity and convert light at an exorbitant rate, the future of Solar Energy seems bright.

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Renewable Energy Adoption -- Not Fast Enough - CleanTechnica

Renewable Energy Adoption -- Not Fast Enough - CleanTechnica | Nature and Science | Scoop.it
That sounds incredibly impressive! So, where does that leave us? With a mere 14.6% of European energy demand being met by renewable energy. Whoa. Less than 15% of the energy used today in the world's “Clean Energy ...
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A new way to invest in green energy - Fortune

A new way to invest in green energy - Fortune | Nature and Science | Scoop.it
Fortune
A new way to invest in green energy
Fortune
Scores of promising start-ups armed with innovative green technology end up stranded in the desert for lack of capital. Energy, it turns out, is not like launching a software company.
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Siemens Performance on Renewable Energy Market

Siemens Performance on Renewable Energy Market | Nature and Science | Scoop.it
Guest post by Maria Kruk, an author for Patentsbase.com Siemens is one of the companies, which are focused on the innovative fields, as well as on markets with a good potential for expanding. These...
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Hubble has spotted an ancient fully-formed galaxy that shouldn't exist

Hubble has spotted an ancient fully-formed galaxy that shouldn't exist | Nature and Science | Scoop.it

The galaxy BX442 is so large, so fully-formed, that astronomers say it shouldn't exist at all. It's called a "grand-design" spiral galaxy, and unlike most galaxies of its kind, this one is very old. According to a new study conducted by researchers using NASA's Hubble Telescope, it dates back roughly 10.7-billion years — and that makes it the most ancient spiral galaxy we've ever discovered.

 

"The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding," said University of Toronto's David Law, lead author of the study. "Current wisdom holds that such ‘grand-design' spiral galaxies simply didn't exist at such an early time in the history of the universe."

 

The hallmark of a grand design galaxy is its well-formed spiral arms, but getting into this conformation takes time. When astronomers look at most galaxies as they appeared billions and billions of years ago, they look clumpy and irregular. A 10.7-billion-year-old entity, BX442 came into existence a mere 3-billion years after the Big Bang. That's not a lot of time on a cosmic time scale, and yet BX442 looks surprisingly put together. So much so, in fact, that astronomers didn't believe it at first, chalking their unusual observation up to the accidental alignment of two separate galaxies. But further investigations, conducted at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, revealed BX442 to be the real thing.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Aneth Espinales's comment, May 26, 2017 5:43 PM
This article is about a galaxy that astronomers believe shouldn't exist. The galaxy is extremely old compared to others like it. Researchers estimate that the galaxy is about 10.7 billion years old, and they also say that such a 'grand design' galaxy with such well formed arms didn't exist at such an early time in the Universe's history. This article was very interesting to me since its amusing to know things about the Universe and the events that took place billions of years ago
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Algae-Fueled Motorcycle Sets Speed Record

Algae-Fueled Motorcycle Sets Speed Record | Nature and Science | Scoop.it

Below the Surface’s “Driving Innovation” Team established the first official algae-fueled motorcycle speed records during The Texas Mile land speed event on March 24th, 2012. Team leader Kristian Gustavson reached 94.6 mph using a 50/50 blend of biodiesel derived from algae and cooking oil waste from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Fellow team member, Devin Chatterjie, reached 96.2 MPH on 100% algae-derived Green Crude diesel fuel supplied by Sapphire Energy Inc., one of the world’s leaders in algae-based oil crude production. Together, they established the fastest and only known records to date for an algae-fueled motorcycle. The Driving Innovation Team rode a unique turbo-charged, 800cc diesel powered Track Motorcycle manufactured in Holland. The bike was shipped from Holland to the US last fall courtesy of FedEx Express in a show of support for the project.


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