Monday, October 16, 2017

bio-inspired nanotech

Green Car Congress | Argonne team develops synthetic bionano membrane to convert light to hydrogen

A team led by researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has developed a new way to produce solar fuels by using completely synthetic bionano machinery to harvest light without the need for a living cell. The researchers’ device, reported in the journal ACS Nano as a “synthetic purple membrane,” contains tiny discs of lipids, man-made proteins and semiconducting nanoparticles that, when taken together, can transform sunlight into hydrogen fuel.

not gonna happen - can't patent it!

The Guardian | Magic mushrooms 'reboot' brain in depressed people – study
Magic mushrooms may effectively “reset” the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression, the latest study to highlight the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics suggests.
Psychedelics have shown promising results in the treatment of depression and addictions in a number of clinical trials over the last decade. Imperial College London researchers used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms – to treat a small number of patients with depression, monitoring their brain function, before and after.
Images of patients’ brains revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms and participants in the trial reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment.
Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, who led the study, said: “We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments.

Monday, October 9, 2017

we are more than "our" dna

Science | Gut bacteria may tell human cells what to do

New studies are providing glimpses of the language through which bacteria in the human gut communicate with us. Cohen et al. analyzed the DNA from the human microbiome for members of the N-acyl synthase family of proteins—enzymes that catalyze synthesis of molecules that might serve as ligands for human heterotrimeric G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). More than 140 such genes were detected, and they produced molecules that bound and efficiently activated human GPCRs. Transfer of bacteria engineered to express such ligands into mice altered glucose metabolism to a similar extent as did a drug used to treat diabetes. Thus, bacteria, which communicate with each other through small excreted molecules, may communicate with their host in a similar manner—thereby offering opportunities for therapeutic intervention

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

dopamine oxidation destroys neurons

Science | Dopamine oxidation mediates mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease

Human-derived neurons provide the answers

Pathways involved in energy metabolism and removal of cellular debris by lysosomes play an important role in protecting our brain from degeneration in Parkinson's disease. Burbulla et al.identified a toxic cascade of mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction in human neurons derived from patients with Parkinson's. The dysfunction was mediated by accumulation of oxidized dopamine and α-synuclein, but it was not found in Parkinson's mouse models, owing to species-specific differences in dopamine metabolism. Inherent species-specific differences between human and mouse neurons emphasize the value of studying human neurons to identify relevant targets for treatment of Parkinson's disease and related synucleinopathies.

they tell me you are a man with true grit

Science | Infants make more attempts to achieve a goal when they see adults persist

If at first you don't succeed, try again

Does grit—the combination of perseverance and passion popularized in the media—differ from conscientiousness? Personality traits are embedded early in life and remain relatively stable, whereas grit (at least the passion component) may come and go and thus be malleable. Leonard et al. show that infants can learn from adults to persist through failure at arduous tasks (see the Perspective by Butler). Infants who had observed adults struggle for half a minute before activating a toy persisted when given their own complicated toy to play with, in contrast to the lesser grit displayed by infants who had seen only rapid and effortless adult successes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

we have nanobots in us???

bioRxiv | The condensin complex is a mechanochemical motor
that translocates along DNA

Abstract: Condensin plays crucial roles in chromosome organization and compaction, but the mechanistic basis for its functions remains obscure. Here, we use single-molecule imaging to demonstrate that Saccharomyces cerevisiae condensin is a molecular motor capable of ATP hydrolysis-dependent translocation along double-stranded DNA. Condensin’s translocation activity is rapid and highly processive, with individual complexes traveling an average distance of ≥10 kilobases at a velocity of ~60 base pairs per second. Our results suggest that condensin may take steps comparable in length to its ~50-nanometer coiled-coil subunits, suggestive of a translocation mechanism that is distinct from any reported DNA motor protein. The finding that condensin is a mechanochemical motor has important implications for understanding the mechanisms of chromosome organization and condensation.