jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (Default)
[personal profile] jjhunter
A neat bit of engineering in this press release from MIT today, One-two punch knocks out aggressive tumors.
To improve Doxil’s effectiveness, Hammond’s team wanted to combine it with another type of therapy known as RNA interference (RNAi), which uses very short strands of RNA to block the expression of specific genes inside a living cell.

The researchers used a technique called layer-by-layer assembly to coat the Doxil particles with one layer of siRNA mixed with a positively charged polymer that helps to stabilize the RNA. This layer contains up to 3,500 siRNA molecules, each targeted to block a gene that allows cancer cells to pump the drug molecules out of the cells.

One of the major challenges that researchers have faced in developing RNAi as a cancer treatment is getting the particles to survive in the bloodstream long enough to reach their intended targets. To overcome this, the MIT particles include an outer coating of hyaluronic acid. These molecules absorb water, allowing the nanoparticles to flow through blood vessels undisturbed, Hammond says.

“This stealth layer becomes a cushion of water surrounding the nanoparticle, which allows it to go through the bloodstream as if it were water,” Hammond says. “That makes it circulate much more effectively.”
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n.b. for more info on RNA interference, see this NIH factsheet.
jjhunter: multiple watercolor butterflies flying (butterfly flock)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Forschungszentrum Jülich press release: New Theory of Synapse Formation in the Brain
Jülich, 10 October 2013 – The human brain keeps changing throughout a person’s lifetime. New connections are continually created while synapses that are no longer in use degenerate. To date, little is known about the mechanisms behind these processes. Jülich neuroinformatician Dr. Markus Butz has now been able to ascribe the formation of new neural networks in the visual cortex to a simple homeostatic rule that is also the basis of many other self-regulating processes in nature. With this explanation, he and his colleague Dr. Arjen van Ooyen from Amsterdam also provide a new theory on the plasticity of the brain – and a novel approach to understanding learning processes and treating brain injuries and diseases.


Associated PLOS Computational Biology article is freely available online: Markus Butz + Arjen van Ooyen's A Simple Rule for Dendritic Spine and Axonal Bouton Formation Can Account for Cortical Reorganization after Focal Retinal Lesions.

---
Admins, can we have a 'Neuro' tag of some kind? (Neuroscience / Neurobiology / etc.)
jjhunter: Flaming Klein Bottle with image of the face of Dean Winchester (SPN) in b&w to the left (catch divider)
[personal profile] jjhunter
NPR has a decent overview here; I've posted my own more technical overview at my journal, News to Watch: MERS; and as always, you can get reliable up-to-date info on disease outbreaks @ the WHO site, e.g. GAR: Coronavirus infections.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
New York Times interactive feature Signing Science:
Scientific terms like “organism” and “photosynthesis” have no widely accepted equivalent in sign language, so deaf students and professionals have unexpected hurdles when talking about science. Here, Lydia Callis, a professional sign language interpreter, translates a shortened version of an article by Douglas Quenqua, explaining how new signs are being developed that may enhance scientific learning and communication.

(Via [personal profile] snowynight)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Does anyone have any recommendations for science news sources (mailing lists, websites, etc.) that could provide science current event readings appropriate for middle school students (i.e. grades 6 - 8, ~ages 10-13)?
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
[personal profile] nanila
The European Space Agency has selected its first L-class mission, the JUICE mission to Jupiter and its Galilean moons.

Here's a quote from the article (from my boss):

"People probably don't realise that habitable zones don't necessarily need to be close to a star - in our case, close to the Sun," explained Prof. Michele Dougherty, a Juice science team member from Imperial College London, UK.

"There are four conditions required for life to form. You need water; you need an energy source - so the ice can become liquid; you need the right chemistry - nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen; and the fourth thing you need is stability - a length of time that allows life to form.

"The great thing about the icy moons in the Jupiter system is that we think those four conditions might exist there; and Juice will tell us if that is the case," she told BBC News.


It's scheduled to launch in 2022. Fingers crossed that I will be working on it then, too!

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