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Ana Melo Receives a 2022 Biophysical Travel Award

Ana Melo Receives a 2022 Biophysical Travel Award | iBB | Scoop.it

Ana M. Melo was a recipient of a 2022 Biophysical Travel Award for Scientists within 10-years after completing the PhD. She was honored during the Travel Awardee Reception by the Society’s Committees for Inclusion/Diversity and Professional Opportunities for Women. This highly competitive award covered her travel expenses to San Francisco, California (US).

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A CBM-Hexapeptide Fusion Confers Antimicrobial Properties to Cellulose

A CBM-Hexapeptide Fusion Confers Antimicrobial Properties to Cellulose | iBB | Scoop.it

A new strategy to modify cellulose with the short antimicrobial hexapeptide MP196 (RWRWRW-NH2) is proposed by BERG and BSIRG researchers that uses fusions of Cys-terminated derivatives of MP196 and a carbohydrate binding module (CBM). CBM3-MP196-modified cellulose hydrogels displayed antibacterial activity that was significantly higher when compared with controls. This versatile concept offers a toolbox for the functionalization of different cellulose materials with a broad choice in peptides. the paper was published in Acta Biomaterialia. The work was funded by project CBM-X.

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Quantitative FRET Microscopy Reveals a Crucial Role of Cytoskeleton in Promoting PI(4,5)P2 Confinement

Quantitative FRET Microscopy Reveals a Crucial Role of Cytoskeleton in Promoting PI(4,5)P2 Confinement | iBB | Scoop.it

Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2) is crucial to many cellular processes in eukaryotes, including membrane trafficking, signal transduction, ion channel function  and cytoskeleton dynamics. This function multiplicity is partially achieved through a dynamic spatiotemporal organization of PI(4,5)P2 within the membrane. In a recent paper published in IJMS, an IBB team (Maria J. Sarmento, Luís Borges-Araújo, Sandra N.Pinto, Nuno Bernardes, Joana Ricardo, Ana Coutinho, Manuel Prieto and Fábio Fernandes) was able to quantify PI(4,5)P2 confinement in living cells making use of FRET imaging measurements. PI(4,5)P2 was found to be significantly compartmentalized at the plasma membrane of HeLa cells. These PI(4,5)P2 enriched domains were shown to not depend on cholesterol content, ruling out an association with lipid rafts. On the other hand, upon inhibition of actin polymerization, compartmentalization of PI(4,5)P2 was almost entirely eliminated, confirming that the cytoskeleton network is the critical component responsible for the formation of nanoscale PI(4,5)P2 domains.

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Lipid Hydroperoxide Compromises the Membrane Structure Organization

Lipid Hydroperoxide Compromises the Membrane Structure Organization | iBB | Scoop.it

Lipid hydroperoxides have recently been recognized as key mediators of diseases (such as neurodegenerative disorders or Type II diabetes) and cell death. In a recent work, structural and dynamic perturbations induced by the hydroperoxidized POPC lipid (POPC-OOH) in fluid POPC membranes were addressed using advanced small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and fluorescence methodologies. Notably, this multidisciplinary approach revealed that the hydroperoxide group located at the membrane interface, promotes a higher membrane hydration and microviscosity, with a strikingly lower order and bending rigidity, an unusual trend in membrane biophysics, which ultimately compromises membrane structure organization. This international work co-led by Ana M. Melo (BSIRG-iBB) and Rosangela Itri (Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo) was recently published in Langmuir and involved other BSIRG-iBB researchers (Ana Coutinho, Alexander Fedorov and Manuel Prieto).

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Adaptation to Acetic Acid Stress Involves Structural Alterations and Increased Stiffness of the Yeast Cell Wall

Adaptation to Acetic Acid Stress Involves Structural Alterations and Increased Stiffness of the Yeast Cell Wall | iBB | Scoop.it

The role of the cell wall in yeast response and tolerance to stress is frequently neglected. A BSRG-iBB research paper just published in Scientific Reports, provides, for the first time, a comprehensive view of the alterations occurring at the cell wall in a yeast population adapting to sub-lethal stress induced by acetic acid. The results reveal changes to the cell wall polysaccharide composition and nanomechanical properties, as well as alterations in the transcript levels of key cell wall biosynthetic genes. This paper reinforces the notion that the adaptive yeast response to acetic acid involves coordinated alterations of the cell wall at the biophysical and molecular levels. The gathered knowledge is important for the design of superior industrial strains and for the efficient control of the deleterious activity of spoilage yeasts, particularly in the Food Industry. This research work is first-authored by the PhD student of the PhD programme in Biotechnology and Biosciences Ricardo Ribeiro (FCT_DP AEM fellowship), performed under the supervision of Isabel Sá-Correia. This collaborative study with Fábio Fernandes (BSIRG-iBB) and Mário S. Rodrigues and his team (BioISI, Faculty of Sciences, ULisboa), is also coauthored by Cláudia Godinho (posdoc researcher) and the PhD student Nuno Bourbon-Melo (FCT_DP BIOTECnico) from the BSRG-iBB team.

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Why do Fireflies Shine?

Why do Fireflies Shine? | iBB | Scoop.it

Vasco Bonifácio was invited to participate in the program “Explain me as if were 5 years old”, an IST initiative that consists of informal conversations about science for curious children and adults. In this program, which was broadcast live on Facebook on the afternoon of November 28, 2020, Vasco presented the session “Why do fireflies shine?”. In this session, chaired by Joana Lobo Antunes (Communication and Public Relations Office of IST), Vasco Bonifácio explained the phenomena of bioluminescence, chemiluminescence and phosphorescence and how these physical-chemical processes are related to research in the area of cancer treatment that he has been developing in recent years. There was also time to carry out live experiments, which delighted the young audience and to answer many questions! The program was recorded and is available on the program's website (Episode 12).

iBB's insight:

https://explicame.tecnico.ulisboa.pt/episodio-12.html

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Cysteine Metabolic Circuitries: Druggable Targets in Cancer

Cysteine Metabolic Circuitries: Druggable Targets in Cancer | iBB | Scoop.it

To enable survival in adverse conditions, cancer cells undergo global metabolic adaptations. The amino acid cysteine actively contributes to cancer metabolic remodelling on three different levels: in its free form (redox control), as a substrate to produce hydrogen sulphide (H2S) (stimulation of cellular bioenergetics), and as a carbon source (epigenetic regulation, biomass and energy production). In review published in the British Journal of Cancer, Vasco Bonifácio from BSIRG-iBB and colleagues from CEDOC and ITQB provide a systematic portrayal of the role of cysteine in cancer biology as a source of carbon and sulphur atoms, the pivotal role of cysteine in different metabolic pathways and the importance of H2S as an energetic substrate and signalling molecule.

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Global Evaluation of S. cerevisiae Regulatory Network: Challenging Previous Concepts

Global Evaluation of S. cerevisiae Regulatory Network: Challenging Previous Concepts | iBB | Scoop.it

Understanding the rules that govern complex transcriptional regulation has been attempted for many years. In this study, the full network of transcriptional regulatory associations currently known for Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as gathered in the latest release of the YEASTRACT database, was topologically evaluated. Overall, our analyses challenge previous results, pointing out towards the paucity of experimental evidence to support theories. This study, that stems from a collaboration between researchers from BSRG/iBB (Miguel Cacho Teixeira), INESC-ID (Pedro Monteiro) and IGC (Claudine Chaouiya), was just published in Scientific Reports.

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Structure and Lateral Organization of Phosphatidylinositol 4,5- bisphosphate (Cover of Molecules)

Structure and Lateral Organization of Phosphatidylinositol 4,5- bisphosphate (Cover of Molecules) | iBB | Scoop.it

Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2) stands out from other plasma membrane lipids as one of the most important regulators of membrane-associated signaling events. PI(4,5)P2 is able to engage in a multitude of simultaneous cellular functions that are temporally and spatially regulated through the presence of localized transient pools of PI(4,5)P2 in the membrane. These pools are crucial for the recruitment, activation, and organization of signaling proteins and consequent regulation of downstream signaling. A review published by the PhD student Luís Borges-Araújo (from the Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics Doctoral Program)  and Fábio Fernandes showcases some of the most important PI(4,5)P2 molecular and biophysical properties, as well as their impact on its membrane dynamics, lateral organization, and interactions with other biochemical partners. The review was published in the Molecules Journal and was selected as the cover of the September issue.

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New Hybrids of Graphene Quantum Dots and Glycol Corroles for Multiphoton Bioimaging

New Hybrids of Graphene Quantum Dots and Glycol Corroles for Multiphoton Bioimaging | iBB | Scoop.it

Graphene quantum dots (GQDs) possess excellent optical properties, high photostability, aqueous solubility and bio-compatibility. In this work, we report for the first time a two-step methodology for the efficient covalent functionalization of GQDs with corrole macrocycles. The resulting hybrids were explored as imaging agents and thus their internalization and distribution in live animal cells was evaluated in cancer cell lines (MCF-7, human breast adenocarcinoma cell line) using confocal laser scanning microscopy. The study was coordinated by researchers from CQE-IST (Ermelinda Maçoas) and University of Aveiro (Carla Santos) and also with collaboration of researchers from Complutense University of Madrid and iBB-IST (Sandra Pinto). The results were published in Carbon.

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Antagonist Biocompatibility of Zn-based Materials Functionalized with Metal Oxides

Antagonist Biocompatibility of Zn-based Materials Functionalized with Metal Oxides | iBB | Scoop.it

Zinc surfaces coated with nanostructured ZnO flowers has received increasing attention as a versatile biomaterial for medical applications. A collaborative work between researchers from CQE (Marta Alves, Catarina Santos and Fátima Montemor) and iBB (Dalila Mil-Homens, Sandra Pinto) describes the successful functionalization of these surfaces with cooper (Cu), iron (Fe) or manganese (Mn) oxides (Ox). The in vitro study of  these surfaces,  by fibroblast viability,  hemocompatibility, and  chick  chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assays revealed the potential brought by CuOx functionalization for anti-cancer applications, with the antagonist behaviour of the surfaces functionalized with MnOx, and in a less extent with FeOx, favouring wound healing in traumatic  processes. Despite the possible correlation between biocompatibility and   hydroxyapatite   precipitation,   no   correlation   could   be   drawn with the corrosion activity, study by immersion and electrochemical techniques, of these surfaces. The study resulted from. The results were published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.

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Purification of mAbs in a UF Stirred Cell

Purification of mAbs in a UF Stirred Cell | iBB | Scoop.it

Charged ultrafiltration membranes combined with optimal operating conditions can be used to enable the purification of monoclonal antibodies. Researchers at BERG-iBB (Alexandra Wagner, Marilia Mateus and Ana Azevedo) and BSIRG-IBB (Ana Ferraria and Ana Maria Botelho do Rego) have studied the influence of polyethersulfone membrane modification with polyethyleneimine and operating conditions on the removal of impurities from a mAb-containing cell culture fluid. High purity was consistently observed at pH 9 due to a simultaneous decrease in the transmission of soluble protein and increase in both IgG transmission and adsorptive capacity of the membranes. Click on tittle to learn more in the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology.

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Rita Pires Wins "A flash on chemistry" Photography Award

Rita Pires Wins "A flash on chemistry" Photography Award | iBB | Scoop.it

Rita Pires won the Photography Award "A flash on chemistry", promoted by the Group of Young Chemists of the Portuguese Society of Chemistry. This Award was aimed at praising the importance of the Periodic Table and of the Chemical Elements through original photographs.


"It's not a vision of Space or any distant planet, what we see is a round-bottom flask. Pure chemistry. Inside, hydrogen builds bridges between the tentacular arms of a polyurea dendrimer. The result is fascinating, a blue, intense and intrinsic fluorescence. The rare phenomenon, also observed in nature during the aggregation of beta sheets of amyloid fibers, is explained by the delocalization of electrons through the hydrogen bonds. It is not a planet, but we travel with our gaze. Chemical elements highlighted: Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon."

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Ana Melo Presents and Co-chairs at the 66th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting

Ana Melo Presents and Co-chairs at the 66th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting | iBB | Scoop.it

Ana Melo from BSIRG-iBB delivered an oral presentation at the 66th Biophysical Society Annual (BPS) Meeting, San Francisco, California (February 2022). The focus was on the characterization of the distinct conformational signatures of the flanking polyQ regions in the membrane-bound state of Huntington exon 1, and its implications in Huntington´s disease. Ana was also invited by the Scientific Committee to co-chair the Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs) section together with Martin Fossat from Washington University (St Louis). The BPS meeting is the largest and most reputed worldwide Biophysical Meeting, and this year was attended by biophysicists from 46 countries. In Ana´s section, researchers from Univ. Cambridge, Yale Univ., Washington Univ. St Louis, Univ. of Copenhagen and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute presented research focused on distinct biophysical features of IDPs associated with function and dysfunction.

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Ana Melo Delivers Invited Seminar at the Portuguese Neuroscience Meeting

Ana Melo Delivers Invited Seminar at the Portuguese Neuroscience Meeting | iBB | Scoop.it

Ana Melo gave an invited talk during the XVII Meeting of the Portuguese Society for Neuroscience, at Coimbra, 1 - 3 December, 2021. She presented recent work focused on characterizing the distinct conformational dynamics of the flanking polyQ regions in the membrane-bound state of Huntington exon 1, and its role in Huntington´s disease. Her presentation was in the framework of the SPB Symposium: “A biophysical perspective on degenerative diseases: protein assembly and phase separation”, together with Sandra Macedo Ribeiro (IBMC- i3S) and Salvador Ventura (IBB-Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona).

 

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The Azurin-Derived Peptide CT-p19LC Exhibits Membrane-Active Properties and Induces Cancer Cell Death

The Azurin-Derived Peptide CT-p19LC Exhibits Membrane-Active Properties and Induces Cancer Cell Death | iBB | Scoop.it

The bacterial protein azurin shows an unexpected therapeutic effect against various types of cancer. This property seems to result from its unique structural and surface features. A 28-residue peptide (named p28) derived from the middle part of azurin has been subjected to various studies and reached two clinical trials phase I in US. In a recent paper published in Biomedicines, a iBB team (Ana Rita Garizo, Lígia Coelho, Sandra Pinto, Tiago Dias, Fábio Fernandes, Nuno Bernardes and Arsénio M Fialho) were able to identified another anticancer bioactive peptide (CT-p19LC) derived from the C-terminal of azurin. CT-p19LC proved to interact preferentially with cancer cells, causing a significative inhibition of cell proliferation in a dose dependent manner. Moreover, it is proposed that the mode of action of CT-p19LC involves perturbation or disruption of cancer cell membranes. Overall this study highlights the relevance of azurin as a source of bioactive peptides with potential application in cancer therapies.

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Gefitinib-Loaded p28-PLGA Nanoparticles Reduce Tumor Burden and Metastases in Lung Cancer

Gefitinib-Loaded p28-PLGA Nanoparticles Reduce Tumor Burden and Metastases in Lung Cancer | iBB | Scoop.it

p28 is a 28 amino acids peptide derived from the bacterial protein azurin. It possesses cell-penetrating capabilities showing preferential enter in cancer cells. Moreover it has been subject in US to two phase I clinical trials as a anticancer agent. In a recent paper published in Journal of Controlled Release, a iBB team (Garizo AR, Dias TP, Fernandes F, Bernardes N, Fialho AM) together with a i3S/UP team (Castro F, Martins C, Almeida A, Barrias CC, Sarmento B) were able for the first time to fabricate p28-functionalized PLGA nanoparticles (NPs) loaded with the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib. The results obtained indicate that these NPs interact preferentially with lung cancer cells due to their decoration with p28 peptide. In vitro cytotoxicity assays demonstrate biological activity of the NPs against lung cancer cancer cells. Finally, in vivo studies demonstrated a great potential of the p28-NPs in enhancing the therapeutic effects of gefitinib.

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Portuguese Platform of BioImaging is Now a Euro-Bioimaging Node

Portuguese Platform of BioImaging is Now a Euro-Bioimaging Node | iBB | Scoop.it

The Portuguese Platform of BioImaging (PPBI) is now a Euro-Bioimaging Node. The Advanced Fluorescence Microscopy Facility at iBB-IST joined this application, and now also integrates the Euro-BioImaging network. Ana M. Melo (Facility Head) presented on 22nd February 2021 our site, specialized in quantitative imaging and dedicated to functional imaging and single-molecule techniques.

 

 

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Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells by the Single Action of Luminescent Polyurea Oxide Biodendrimers

Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells by the Single Action of Luminescent Polyurea Oxide Biodendrimers | iBB | Scoop.it

Polyurea oxide (PURO) biodendrimers are a class of dendrimers that can trigger osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). The effect of PURO biodendrimers in the differentiation of hMSCs was found by the single addition to a standard growth medium for MSCs differentiation (without differentiation inducers, e.g. dexamethasone, ascorbic acid, and β-glycerophosphate). These results, published in ACS Applied Bio Materials by Rita Pires and Vasco Bonifácio from BSIRG-iBB and with colleague João Conde from NOVA Medical School, constitute the first report of in vitro osteodifferentiation fully regulated by synthetic soft polymers. The outstanding role of dendrimers in nanomedicine, under clinic translation, combined with this feature is envisaged to foster PURO dendrimers as an important strategy in cell therapy and regenerative medicine.

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Urease Next-generation Inhibition Therapy

Urease Next-generation Inhibition Therapy | iBB | Scoop.it

The project URE-LOCKERS - Urease next-generation inhibition therapy, was recently awarded to Nuno Martinho (PI, BSIRG) and Vasco Bonifácio (Co-PI, BSIRG). This project, with a total funding of 243 k€, was funded by FC&T Portugal (Ref. PTDC/MED-QUI/3542/2020). The current excessive use of broad-spectrum antibiotics is leading to a rising health concern of bacterial resistance. Finding novel approaches that target specific microbial pathways is therefore highly desirable, particularly for non-immediate life-threatening infections. URE-LOCKERS proposes a novel nanotherapeutic approach against Helicobacter pylori infections, alternative to conventional antibiotics, based on especially designed polyurea dendrimers.

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Half-Sandwich Cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) Complexes: A New Antimalarial Chemotype

Half-Sandwich Cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) Complexes: A New Antimalarial Chemotype | iBB | Scoop.it

The effectiveness of antiplasmodial drugs against the blood stage of infection is increasingly threatened by the emergence and spread of drug-resistant parasites. Here a small library of “half-sandwich” cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) compounds of the general formula [(η5-C5R5)Ru(PPh3)(N-N)][PF6] was screened for activity against the blood stage of CQ-sensitive 3D7-GFP, CQ-resistant Dd2, and artemisinin-resistant IPC5202 Plasmodium falciparum strains and the liver stage of Plasmodium berghei. We showed that some of the compounds are potent dual-stage antiplasmodials, displaying Plasmodium falciparum-selective accumulation in infected erythrocytes. The study was coordinated by researchers from Faculdade de Farmácia with collaboration of researchers from IHMT, IMM and iBB-IST (Sandra Pinto). The results were published in Inorg. Chem. 

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Phenotypic Characterization of Trimeric Autotransporter Adhesin-defective bcaC Mutant of Burkholderia cenocepacia

Phenotypic Characterization of Trimeric Autotransporter Adhesin-defective bcaC Mutant of Burkholderia cenocepacia | iBB | Scoop.it

The role of the bcaC  trimeric autotransporter adhesion (TAA) gene in the virulence of Burkholderia cenocepacia has been disclosed by iBB researchers Andreia Pimenta, Dalila Mil-Homens, Sandra Pinto and Arsénio Fialho in a report published in Microbes and Infection. TAAs are homotrimeric proteins of the outer membrane of many Gram-negative pathogens that play a key role in adhesion to host cells. Two insertional-mutants for TAA bcaC and histidine kinase (HK) BCAM0218 genes were constructed. Findings indicate that bcaC encodes for a large multifunctional TAA that has hemagglutination activity and is also required for maximal host cell adherence. The neighbor BCAM0218 HK encoding gene was identified as a critical player that negatively controls the expression of the bcaC TAA gene. All together, the findings represent a step forward for a better characterization of the subset of B. cenocepacia TAA-encoding genes. This article was selected as the highlighted article of the July 2020 issue of the Microbes and Infection journal.

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Carina Crucho Selected to Participate in the 2020 CAS Future Leaders Program

Carina Crucho Selected to Participate in the 2020 CAS Future Leaders Program | iBB | Scoop.it

Carina Crucho from BSIRG-iBB has been selected to participate in the 2020 CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) Future Leaders program, representing Instituto Superior Técnico. Celebrating its 11th year, the CAS Future Leaders program will gather a group of elite Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars from around the globe this August 10-20 in Columbus, OH and San Francisco, CA to blaze a trail toward scientific leadership. Carina’s exceptional application distinguished her among hundreds of submissions for this year’s program. Her current research interests include the synthesis and characterization of carbohydrate-based polymers and the synthesis of glyconanomaterials. Congratulations Carina!

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The Conformational Polymorphism of Disordered Proteins in Neurodegeneration at the Single-molecule Level

The Conformational Polymorphism of Disordered Proteins in Neurodegeneration at the Single-molecule Level | iBB | Scoop.it

Intrinsically disordered proteins/regions (IDPs/IDRs) are widespread in the human proteome and play critical roles in distinct biological processes and dysfunction. Contrary to the classical “structure–function” paradigm, IDPs lack stable secondary/tertiary structures under physiological conditions, and instead adopt a dynamic ensemble of multiple conformations. Moreover, several neurodegenerative disorders are associated with the pathological self-assembly of neuronal IDPs, including tau (Alzheimer’s disease), α-synuclein (Parkinson’s disease), and huntingtin exon 1 (Huntington’s disease). Therefore, there is an emerging medical interest in understanding their physical and structural features. However, their characterization is inherently challenging by traditional ensemble and time-averaging methodologies. A recent review co-authored by Ana Melo from BSIRG-iBB, and published in Frontiers in Molecular Neurosciences the advantages of employing cutting-edge single-molecule fluorescence techniques are discussed to characterize the conformational ensemble of neurodegeneration-promoting IDPs under normal and disease conditions to obtain insights into their gain- or loss-of-function.

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Photodiodes: Principles and Recent Advances

Photodiodes: Principles and Recent Advances | iBB | Scoop.it

Photodiodes are on the rise. In the past decade many efforts have been made to deliver cheaper, more flexible, and increasingly better performing photodiode devices. The demand for enhanced optoelectronics led to the development of new inorganic, organic, and hybrid materials. A tutorial review published in Journal of Materials NanoScience by Rita Pires and Vasco Bonifácio from BSIRG-iBB describes in detail the working principles, the characterization, fabrication (types and architectures) and major applications of photodiodes. Recent applications, mainly in imaging, sensing and healthcare are also presented.

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