Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a crucial diagnostic tool and an all-around cool technology that creates three-dimensional views of living tissues without being invasive or harming living tissues. But MRI is also limited; while telescopes see further and further into the cosmos and microscopes see smaller and smaller bodies, MRI can only go so small. But now, by blending atomic force microscopy with MRI's 3-D capabilities, MIT researchers are making a 3-D microscope 100 times more powerful than hospital MRI machines.
When it comes to your living cells size does indeed matter, and a team of MIT and Harvard scientists has figured out how to measure them with unprecedented accuracy. Using a sensor that is sensitive enough to weigh a single cell, the team managed to record the rate at which cells accrue mass over time, data that could help them establish the mechanisms by which single cells grow and how those processes fail when cells turn cancerous.
A new nanoprobe can slip stealthily into a cell and give researchers an opening to monitor the cell's insides for up to a week. That could make the tiny inorganic device the first to implant within a cell without damaging it.
Scientists have already created mini-cyborgs out of living cells and semiconductor materials, but now biological cells can also contain tiny silicon chips. Those silicon chips could become future intracellular sensors that monitor microscopic activities, deliver drugs to target cells or even repair cell structures, according to Nanowerk.
While scientists have become rather adept at transforming generic skin cells into specialized organ cells, crafting the organs themselves has proven far more difficult. Since the 3-D architecture of most organs is as important to their function as their cellular makeup, 2-D cell cultures are not very useful for building a replacement heart from scratch. To solve that problem, most organ makers create a scaffolding for the cells to grow on.
For a team of researchers at Rice University, even a biodegradable scaffolding wasn't good enough. By injecting cells with a metallic gel, the researchers have succeeded in suspending cultured cells in a three-dimensional magnetic field. With this magnetic scaffolding, organs can be grown in the right shape, and with no foreign material.
As part of the cosmetic industry's attempt to shift away from animal testing for makeup, L'Oreal and the Hurel Corporation have designed a new chip that simulates the behavior of skin cells, eliminating the need to test the allergic response of lab animals to cosmetics.
Simply put, pills are stupid. They don't know what's going on in your body when you take them, they don't know the optimal time to release their medication, and they certainly can't vary their own dosage levels on the fly. But thanks to the blinking E. coli created by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, that's all about to change.
For scientists studying the smallest components of life, microscopes have always had frustrating limitations. Electron scanning microscopes can see very small object, but not in real time through the dynamic movement of cells. Fluorescent dyes identify microscopic objects, but the brightness of the emitted light greatly reduces the resolution.
The Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscope (STORM) solves both those problems. 100 times more powerful than a regular optical microscope, the STORM filters and adjusts light emitted from fluorescent dyes to produce a clean image of individual molecules, and thus allowing researchers to watch the behavior of proteins in real time.
Blood cells are great for transporting materials through the body as the entire circulatory system evolved to facilitate their movement. For 50 years, scientists have tried to take advantage of that mobility by creating artificial red blood cells. And for 50 years, scientists had failed, until a team at UC Santa Barbara finally solved the problem.
Scientists know that nanoparticles can damage DNA in cells through direct interaction. Now, though, it appears that nanoparticles can also mess with DNA on the far side of a cellular barrier, by creating signaling molecules -- a never-before-seen phenomenon.