Unraveling the initial molecular events of respiration

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Respiration is a fundamental process of all living things, allowing them to produce energy, stay healthy, and survive. In cells, respiration involves what are known as “respiratory proteins,” e.g. hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in muscles.

Respiratory proteins work by binding and releasing small molecules like oxygen, carbon monoxide etc., called ligands. They do this through their “active center,” which in many respiratory proteins is a chemical structure called heme porphyrin.

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Can aging really be ‘treated’ or ‘cured’?

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As time passes, our fertility declines and our bodies start to fail. These natural changes are what we call ageing.

 In recent decades, we’ve come leaps and bounds in treating and preventing some of the world’s leading age-related diseases, such as coronary heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

But some research takes an entirely unique view on the role of science in easing the burden of ageing, focusing instead on trying to prevent it, or drastically slow it down. This may seem like an idea reserved mainly for cranks and science fiction writers, but it’s not.

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Scientists inspired by Star Wars develop artificial skin capable of recreating sense of touch

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A researcher at the NUS demonstrates the self-healing abilities of an artificial, transparent skin

ACES, or Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin, comprises up to 100 small sensors to replicate a sense of feeling.

  • Researchers say it can process information faster than the nervous system
  • The skin is able to recognise 20 to 30 different textures
  • The technology is still in the experimental stage

Singapore researchers have developed “electronic skin” capable of recreating a sense of touch, an innovation they hope will allow people with prosthetic limbs to detect objects, as well as feel texture, or even temperature and pain.

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Bacteria that eats metal accidentally discovered by scientists

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Manganese oxide nodules generated by the bacteria discovered by the Caltech team.

(CNN)Scientists have discovered a type of bacteria that eats and gets its calories from metal, after suspecting they exist for more than a hundred years but never proving it.

Now microbiologists from the California Institute of Technology (or Caltech) accidentally discovered the bacteria after performing unrelated experiments using a chalk-like type of manganese, a commonly found chemical element.

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The Segway’s inventor has a new project : Manufacturing human organs

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Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway almost 20 years ago, is still busy inventing. Now, at the age of 69, he is working on the most ambitious project of his career: manufacturing organs

When the FDA approves lab-grown human organs for patients, Dean Kamen wants to be ready to mass-produce them

This past January, the umpteenth version of the Segway Personal Transporter whisked attendees around in its white, egg-shaped seat at CES, the huge annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. Called the Segway S-Pod, it drew comparisons to the hover-chairs in Wall-E that shuttled around people so out of shape and blob-like, they’d forgotten how to stand.

This is not how Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway almost 20 years ago, imagined his legacy.

Kamen was inspired to create a device like the Segway in the early ’90s, when he noticed a young man who’d lost his legs in a wheelchair at the mall. It seemed like everywhere Kamen went that night, he bumped into the guy, seeing him unable to get over a curb or reach a high shelf at Radio Shack, too low to be noticed in line at the ice cream counter. Kamen had already been thinking about how to help the disabled. “And I just decided, you know what?” he says. “I’m going to solve that problem.”

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Coronavirus: Experts warn of bioterrorism after pandemic

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The Council of Europe has warned of a potential increase in the use of biological weapons, like viruses or bacterias, in a post-coronavirus world. Terrorists would not forget “lessons learned” during the pandemic.

Security experts from the Council of Europe have warned that the global coronavirus outbreak may increase the use of biological weapons by terrorists in the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable modern society is to viral infections and their potential for disuption,” the council’s Committee on Counter-Terrorism said in a statement.

The deliberate use of disease-causing agents — like viruses or bacterias — as an act of terrorism “could prove to be extremely effective.”

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Crumpled graphene makes ultra-sensitive cancer DNA detector

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Graphene-based biosensors could usher in an era of liquid biopsy, detecting DNA cancer markers circulating in a patient’s blood or serum. But current designs need a lot of DNA. In a new study, crumpling graphene makes it more than ten thousand times more sensitive to DNA by creating electrical “hot spots,” researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found.

Crumpled graphene could be used in a wide array of biosensing applications for rapid diagnosis, the researchers said. They published their results in the journal Nature Communications.

“This sensor can detect ultra-low concentrations of molecules that are markers of disease, which is important for early diagnosis,” said study leader Rashid Bashir, a professor of bioengineering and the dean of the Grainger College of Engineering at Illinois. “It’s very sensitive, it’s low-cost, it’s easy to use, and it’s using graphene in a new way.”

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Old human cells rejuvenated with stem cell technology

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Old human cells can become more youthful by coaxing them to briefly express proteins used to make induced pluripotent cells, Stanford researchers and their colleagues have found. The finding may have implications for aging research.

Old human cells return to a more youthful and vigorous state after being induced to briefly express a panel of proteins involved in embryonic development, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers also found that elderly mice regained youthful strength after their existing muscle stem cells were subjected to the rejuvenating protein treatment and transplanted back into their bodies.

The proteins, known as Yamanaka factors, are commonly used to transform adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells can become nearly any type of cell in the body, regardless of the cell from which they originated. They’ve become important in regenerative medicine and drug discovery.

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YC startup Felix wants to replace antibiotics with programmable viruses

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Right now the world is at war. But this is no ordinary war. It’s a fight with an organism so small we can only detect it through use of a microscope — and if we don’t stop it, it could kill millions of us in the next several decades. No, I’m not talking about COVID-19, though that organism is the one on everyone’s mind right now. I’m talking about antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

You see, more than 700,000 people died globally from bacterial infections last year — 35,000 of them in the U.S. If we do nothing, that number could grow to 10 million annually by 2050, according to a United Nations report.

The problem? Antibiotic overuse at the doctor’s office or in livestock and farming practices. We used a lot of drugs over time to kill off all the bad bacteria — but it only killed off most, not all, of the bad bacteria. And, as the famous line from Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park goes, “life finds a way.”

Enter Felix, a biotech startup in the latest Y Combinator batch that thinks it has a novel approach to keeping bacterial infections at bay – viruses.

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If we can make animals smarter, should we?

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In science fiction stories, research can accidentally create superintelligent animal species. As the ability to alter animals’ brains grows, some say we should be wary of fiction becoming reality.

This article appears in VICE Magazine’s Stupid Issue, which is dedicated to the entertaining, goofy, and just plain dumb. It features stories celebrating ridiculous ideas, trends, and products; pieces arguing that unabashed stupidity can be a great part of life; and articles calling out the bad side of stupidity.

In the 2011 movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, James Franco plays a scientist developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s. The drug, ALZ-112, is designed to restore a human’s brain function, and when tested on a healthy chimpanzee, it causes the monkey’s intelligence to increase dramatically. She passes the intelligence on to her baby, Caesar, who goes on to lead a pack of super-intelligent apes and releases a version of the drug that’s fatal to humans.

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5 incredible synthetic biology holy grails that could change the world

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Investors are still waiting for next-generation biotech to deliver on its enormous promise and potential, but just one of these Holy Grails would make the wait worth it.

 Biotechnology has come a long way since 1978, when Herbert Boyer successfully demonstrated that human insulin could be produced from bacteria engineered with recombinant DNA. The breakthrough technology pushed a little-known company called Genentech into the spotlight and forever changed the world. Genentech was acquired by Roche for $46.8 billion in 2009. The American bioeconomy — biotech crops, biochemicals, and biologic drugs — generated an estimated $324 billion of gross domestic product in 2012. And millions of people worldwide today rely on insulin and other biologic drugs daily.

You could argue that recombinant DNA was the first Holy Grail technology delivered by the field. Several more have followed. In fact, we’ve recently been treated to the development and ongoing commercialization of the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR — a true game-changer for the biotech ecosystem. Headache-inducing legal entanglements aside, CRISPR promises to help synthetic biology deliver on its enormous potential and could even be an integral tool needed to produce several other world-changing Holy Grails. Some are closer to reality than investors may think.

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3D Printing humans: A quick review of 3D Bioprinters

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It was only a matter of time before the iconic scene from 1997’s The Fifth Element became a reality. In the film Milla Jovovich’s character, Leeloo, is entirely rebuilt using her dead hand as a template. The resurrection is performed by a surgical robot that collects slices of heterogeneous tissue, generated from a yellow bio-ink, and places them rapidly in sequence, followed by the addition of softer tissues via long red fibres.

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