We use plastics to make everything from our computers to our toothbrushes, but a collaboration of researchers from the University of California at Irvine and the University of Shizuoka in Japan has made a big breakthrough by taking plastics to microscopic levels. Using plastic nanoparticles just 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, the team has created plastic antibodies that successfully function in the bloodstream of living animals to identify and fight a variety of antigens.
In a breakthrough that could shake up the way researchers think about cancer vaccines, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have found a protein that appears to prepare the immune system to prevent cancer.
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 we think of farming energy, we generally think of feedstocks like corn that can be processed into ethanol, or perhaps other plant life we can culture and harvest like algae. But don't underestimate the livestock; we've recently seen methane-trapping schemes that can power farms and giant cattle treadmills that turn idle dairy drones into power-producing machines.
When it comes to gold we generally associate higher quantities with higher values, but UK researchers are finding the precious metal can be invaluable in very small doses as well. Scientists in Scotland have devised a novel way to continuously monitor for blood clots with a little bit of gold and a laser.
Much like your four-year-old nephew, RNA can only read three-letter combinations. Called codons, these three DNA-base-pair groups form the phrases that RNA translates into the 21 amino acids that underlie all life. But now, University of Cambridge researcher Jason Chin has engineered more literate RNA, capable of reading codons composed of four base pairs. This expands the possible number of codons from 64 to 320, and opens the door for a whole new line of artificial amino acids.
Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute have discovered that prions -- tiny infectious bits of protein that can cause deadly neurodegenerative disease -- are capable of evolution. While that might not seem groundbreaking, here's the thing: while prions evolve by Darwinian, naturally selective processes, they are completely devoid of DNA and RNA.
In the beginning, there were organic molecules. And they were good, but unorganized. Then, those organic molecules formed proteins, and evolution kicked in and started a three-billion-year journey culminating in you and me. But the question of just how life made the jump from inert organic chemicals to the complex building blocks of life has vexed scientists for years.
A company hopes that software originally designed to find extraterrestrial life will now help them unlock the origin of life on this planet.
Wish you had a photographic memory? Well, Encyclopedia Brown, drugs may amp your brain up to that point soon. A group of Spanish scientists claim to have singled out a protein that can extend the life of visual memory significantly. When the production of the protein was boosted in mice, the rodents' visual memory retention increased, from about an hour to almost 2 months.
Scientists have achieved a new milestone in brain imaging: we have seen a memory in the process of being formed. Using brain cells from a lowly sea slug, which actually makes a good model for our brains, images were captured of proteins forming between the neurons. These proteins distinguish the memory as a long-term one rather than short-term, as the proteins solidify the memory in the neurons. This process had been suspected but not visualized until now.