“Living drug factories” might treat diabetes and other diseases

MIT News  March 30, 2020 To have a living drug factory that you can implant cells in patients, which could secrete drugs as-needed a team of researchers in the US (MIT, Boston Children’s Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center, UMass Worcester) devised a way to protect the transplanted cells from the immune system by housing them inside a device built out of a silicon-based elastomer (polydimethylsiloxane) and a special porous membrane. The device contains a porous membrane that allows the transplanted cells to obtain nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream but the pores are small enough so that immune cells such as […]

Graphene underpins a new platform to selectively ID deadly strains of bacteria

Technology.org  March 24, 2020 Point-of-care diagnostics that can reduce and/or prevent unneeded antibiotic prescriptions require highly specific probes with sensitive and accurate transducers that can be miniaturized and multiplexed, and that are easy to operate and cheap. Researchers at Boston College present several advances in the use of graphene field effect transistors (G-FET) including the first use of peptide probes to electrically detect antibiotic resistant bacteria in a highly specific manner. They have reduced the needed concentration for detection by employing dielectrophoresis which allows monitoring changes in the Dirac point due to individual bacterial cells. Rapid binding of bacterial cells […]

‘Rock-breathing’ bacteria are electron spin doctors, study shows

Phys.org  March 6, 2020 An international team of researchers (Israel, USA – University of Southern California) found that unlike most organisms whcih can use oxygen as the electron acceptor these bacteria transfer the electrons to a solid mineral or electrodes that are outside the cell. In terms of metabolism, they “breathe” the minerals or electrodes. To reach the external surface the electrons are shuttled through various protein molecules that form electrical conduits. These proteins have magnetic fields that can favor a particular spin as the electrons shuttle through. The magnetic fields are affected by chirality. The study has implications for […]

Experimental fingerprint test can distinguish between those who have taken or handled cocaine

Science Daily  February 6, 2020 An international team of researchers (UK, Ireland) has designed a test that can tell whether an individual has consumed the class A drug, or simply handled it. They took fingerprints from people who had testified to ingesting cocaine during the previous 24 hours. Fingerprints were collected again after the participants washed their hands thoroughly with soap and water. This same process was used to collect samples from a pool of non- drug users who had touched street cocaine. By cross-referencing the information from the non-users who had touched cocaine with that of volunteers who testified […]

First-of-its-kind hydrogel platform enables on-demand production of medicines, chemicals

Science Daily  February 9, 2020 A team of researchers in the US (University of Washington, UT Austin) has developed a hydrogel system, portable “biofactory”, for harnessing the bioactivity of embedded microbes for on-demand small molecule and peptide production in microbial mono-culture and consortia. This platform bypasses the challenges of engineering a multi-organism consortia by utilizing a temperature-responsive, shear-thinning hydrogel to compartmentalize organisms into polymeric hydrogels that control the final consortium composition and dynamics without the need for synthetic control of mutualism. They have demonstrated that these hydrogels provide protection from preservation techniques (including lyophilization) and can sustain metabolic function for […]

Printing objects that can incorporate living organisms

MIT News  January 23, 2020 Significant efforts exist to develop living/non‐living composite materials—known as biohybrids—that can support and control the functionality of biological agents. A team of researchers in the US (MIT, Dana Farber Cancer Institute) has developed a Hybrid Living Material (HLM) fabrication platform which integrates computational design, additive manufacturing, and synthetic biology to achieve replicable fabrication and control of biohybrids. The approach involves modification of multimaterial 3D‐printer descriptions to control the distribution of chemical signals within printed objects, and subsequent addition of hydrogel to object surfaces to immobilize engineered Escherichia coli and facilitate material‐driven chemical signaling. The HLM […]

Bacteria-shredding tech to fight drug-resistant superbugs

Science Daily  January 13, 2020 An international team of researchers (Australia, USA – North Carolina State University) has shown that when gallium-based liquid metal (LM) droplets are exposed to a low-intensity rotating magnetic field, the LM droplets become physically actuated and transform their shape, developing sharp edges. When placed in contact with a bacterial biofilm, the movement of the particles resulting from the magnetic field physically ruptures the bacterial cells and the dense biofilm matrix is broken down. They tested the efficacy of the magnetically activated LM particles against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial biofilms. After 90 min over 99% […]

Physicists design ‘super-human’ red blood cells to deliver drugs to specific targets

Science Daily  January 16, 2020 An international team of researchers (Canada, Germany) has developed a method to combine synthetic material with biological material and created a new structure. They opened the red blood cell, modified its outer cell wall, and replaced its contents with a drug molecule, which would then be injected back into the body. The hybrid appears and behaves as a normal red blood cell but has a sticky surface which can attach itself to bacteria, for example, open and release antibiotics exactly where they are needed. This targeted delivery method could help to minimize dosages and therefore, […]

Next generation wound gel treats and prevents infections

Science Daily  January 8, 2020 An international team of researchers (Sweden, Denmark) has developed a hydrogel based on the body’s natural peptide defense. It has been shown to prevent and treat infections in wounds and reduce inflammation. The formulation kills multi-resistant bacteria and prevents as well as treats wound infections. They are looking into the possibility of developing new peptide-based drugs for eye infections and infections in other internal organs. It could become a new way of treating both infection and inflammation without using antibiotics…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

Researchers develop universal flu vaccine that protects against 6 influenza viruses in mice

EurekAlert  January 7, 2020 Researchers at Georgia State University have developed a nanoparticle vaccine which combines two major influenza proteins that is effective in providing broad, long-lasting protection against influenza virus in mice, showing promise as a universal flu vaccine. The double-layered nanoparticle vaccine contains the influenza virus proteins matrix protein 2 ectodomain  and neuraminidase. Mice were immunized with the nanoparticle vaccine before being exposed to influenza virus, and they were protected against six different strains of the virus…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE