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Biomedical applications of shape-memory polymers: How practically useful are they?

Shape-memory polymers are an important class of materials in medicine, especially for minimally invasive deployment of devices. However, the rate of translation of the concept to approved products is extremely low. A paper described the general usefulness as well as the limitations of the shape-memory polymers for biomedical applications.

Posted: Apr 17th, 2014

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Friction harnessed by proteins helps organize cell division

A football-shaped structure, known as the mitotic spindle, makes cell division possible for many living things. This piece of cellular architecture, responsible for dividing up genetic material, is in constant flux. The filaments that form it grow and shrink, while motor-like molecules burn energy pushing them about. To ensure the complex process proceeds in an orderly fashion, molecular fasteners pin the filaments together in certain places, and new research helps explain how they do it.

Posted: Apr 17th, 2014

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At the origin of cell division

Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane: these are the models of a 'simplified' cell used by the SISSA physicists Luca Giomi and Antonio DeSimone, who simulated the spontaneous emergence of cell motility and division - that is, features of living material - in inanimate 'objects'.

Posted: Apr 16th, 2014

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New technique will accelerate genetic characterization of photosynthesis

Photosynthesis provides fixed carbon and energy for nearly all life on Earth, yet many aspects of this fascinating process remain mysterious. We do not know the full list of the parts of the molecular machines that perform photosynthesis in any organism. A team developed a highly sophisticated tool that will transform the work of plant geneticists on this subject.

Posted: Apr 15th, 2014

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Scientists grow cartilage to reconstruct nose

Scientists at the University of Basel report first ever successful nose reconstruction surgery using cartilage grown in the laboratory. Cartilage cells were extracted from the patient?s nasal septum, multiplied and expanded onto a collagen membrane. The so-called engineered cartilage was then shaped according to the defect and implanted.

Posted: Apr 11th, 2014

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Researchers show how cancer cells may respond to mechanical force

Two new studies identify the processes and cellular pathways that allow cells to move, stiffen, and react to physical stresses. This knowledge, researchers hope, could reveal the causes of cancer and help develop treatments, including therapies for a variety of diseases.

Posted: Apr 9th, 2014

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Synthetic gene circuits pump up cell signals

Synthetic genetic circuitry created by researchers at Rice University is helping them see, for the first time, how to regulate cell mechanisms that degrade the misfolded proteins implicated in Parkinson's, Huntington?s and other diseases.

Posted: Apr 8th, 2014

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Berkeley Lab proposal for an open biofoundry passes crucial first test

Picture an industrial-sized manufacturing plant in which workers are turning out a valuable chemical product, say a pharmaceutical drug, or an exotic material such as a truly biodegradable plastic, or a clean-burning carbon-neutral transportation fuel. Now picture that plant as being void of smokestacks venting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, or receptacles for the collecting of toxic, non-recyclable waste. This is the promise of biomanufacturing.

Posted: Apr 7th, 2014

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Math modeling integral to synthetic biology research

A long-standing challenge in synthetic biology has been to create gene circuits that behave in predictable and robust ways. Mathematical modeling experts collaborated with experimental biologists to create a synthetic genetic clock that keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures.

Posted: Apr 4th, 2014

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