Review: “What Lies Beneath” An exhibit at the newly opened SciArt Center in New York City showcases work that explores hidden worlds.

n their own ways, science and art are both concerned with exploring what the human eye can’t always see. The awe that scientists experience at the elegance and intricacy of nature puts them in good company with artists, who often seek to render visible the beauty and humor hidden amid the minutiae of everyday life. The inaugural exhibit at New York City’s SciArt Center—which first opened its doors on Friday (June 20)—showcases artistic work that draws on the tools and techniques of science for inspiration. “What Lies Beneath” explores hidden worlds, from the subatomic to the geologic and more.

 

Read more at “The Scientist”

Protein Clumps Spread Inflammation ASC specks

Protein Clumps Spread Inflammation ASC specks—protein aggregations that drive inflammation—are released from dying immune cells, expanding the reach of a defense response.

 

Research teams based in Germany and Spain have independently discovered that cells transmit inflammation by releasing ASC specks, bacteria-sized clumps of protein key for cytokines’ maturation, according to two papers appearing today (June 22) in Nature Immunology. The protein aggregations are a component of inflammasomes, which sense pathogens and cell damage and set off innate immune inflammation. Researchers previously thought inflammasomes acted only inside single cells, but this latest work has found that the ASC specks can effect extracellular inflammation. The teams also found that macrophages can take up released ASC specks, perpetuating the immune response.

ASC specks are prevalent in the tissues of people with some inflammatory diseases, and could be drug targets for reducing inflammation or diagnostic markers of these diseases, the researchers noted.

Their findings help explain the mystery of how relatively localized contact between a cell and a pathogen or product of cell damage can lead to widespread inflammation, explained George Dubyak, a cell physiologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, who was not involved in the study. “The inflammasome specks can become carriers for intracellular signaling,” he said.

“I think this is much-needed information on how inflammation may actually spread after inflammasome activation and offers a whole host of activities for intervention now that have been unexplored,” saidRobert Keane, a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who was not involved in the study.

 

Full story at TheScientist

Drunks and Monkeys

Understanding our primate ancestors’ relationship with alcohol can inform its use by modern humans.

 

When we think about the origins of agriculture and crop domestication, alcohol isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. But our forebears may well have been intentionally fermenting fruits and grains in parallel with the first Neolithic experiments in plant cultivation. Ethyl alcohol, the product of fermentation, is an attractive and psychoactively powerful inebriant, but fermentation is also a useful means of preserving food and of enhancing its digestibility. The presence of alcohol prolongs the edibility window of fruits and gruels, and can thus serve as a means of short-term storage for various starchy products. And if the right kinds of bacteria are also present, fermentation will stabilize certain foodstuffs (think cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, for example). Whoever first came up with the idea of controlling the natural yeast-based process of fermentation was clearly on to a good thing.

 

 

Full story in The Scientist

Bacteria ‘bricklayer’ protein set for attack

Scientists have found a new route to attack antibiotic-resistant bacteria by blocking the mechanism they use to build their exterior coating.

 

The bugs construct this defensive barrier in a complex process that depends on a key dual-protein molecule.

Its structure has been mapped using the intense X-rays of the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire.

Researchers tell the journal Nature that drugs can now be developed to interfere with this LptDE protein.

“We identified how LptDE builds up the outer membrane,” explained Prof Changjiang Dong, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School.

 

Read full story on BBC

To Finish Off Polio

To Finish Off Polio

Along with vaccination, antiviral drugs could play a key role in the eradication of poliovirus, but it’s unclear whether today’s candidate therapies will withstand the challenges of the clinic.

The international spread of polio from Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Equatorial Guinea, respectively, which last month caused World Health Organization (WHO) officials todeclare a public health emergency, serves as a devastating reminder that, although vaccination campaigns have squelched polio in most of the world, eradication is not complete. As of June 11, the virus has sickened 79 people in those three polio-exporting countries and 94 individuals worldwide this year alone. That’s up from 55 cases worldwide through June last year.

Vaccination campaigns and global public health initiatives have caused worldwide cases of polio infection to drop from more than 350,000 reported in 1988, giving researchers reason to hope the infectious disease was near defeat. But as the WHO points out on its website, “as long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease.”

 

Read full story at TheScientist

Cambridge Biomedical adds Video Production to portfolio of services

As a service to our clients Cambridge Biomedical now provides on-site video production services targeted for streamlining the sample collection process at clinical trial collection sites.

We have often found that one of the key elements for ensuring the success for clinical trials is to have all of the collection sites trained on the exact same procedure and sample collection process: from blood collection through to sample shipment.

Many of our clients have utilised this service and found that the sample testing process has been greatly enhanced primarily in the reduction of rejected samples and documentation errors.

Our typical workflow includes the following:

  • Sample collection
  • Venipuncture
  • Documentation
  • Sample collection forms
  • Labels
  • Tube types
  • Sample handling
  • Cold chain storage
  • Incubation
  • Sample preparation
  • Shipment requirements
  • Manifest

The video is customised for each client and will  show the entire process,  including a spoken commentary and explanatory slides.

Please contact us to discuss your video needs.

Drug discovery could be revolutionized by the transmission of information via proteins

A study by the scientists Xavier Salvatella and Modesto Orozco at IRB Barcelona reveals the existence of information highways that connect and correlate distant sites within a single protein.

Published in Nature Communications, the article furthers a key theoretical field for drug discovery, as it would allow the discovery of many more drug binding sites in proteins of biomedical interest.

Proteins are chains of amino acids that, when folded into certain structural patterns and also when unfolded, exert functions within cells. Proteins receive signals that are transmitted from one to the next and that are essential for life. However, within a given protein, are there “highways” along which the signals travel, like a in a relay event? That is to say, how is the information transmitted in a given protein? “This is one of the key questions in biophysics,” says Xavier Salvatella, ICREA Professor at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and head of the Molecular Biophysics Lab.

Full story at MNT

Barf-Less Brews and Genetic engineering

Barf-Less Brews

Genetic engineering could help keep harmful toxins out of barley and beer, but will consumers with a thirst for craft malts and brews buy into it?

This past summer, exceptionally hot and humid for many, was brutal for the small-scale barley farmers who have been cropping up in the northeastern United States—especially for those who intended to sell grain for malting and beer brewing.

“We had really bad conditions last year in New England,” says Andrea Stanley, who along with her husband Christian owns and operates the Hadley, Massachusetts–based micro-malting outfit Valley Malt. “During the last week of June and first week of July we had 90- to 95-degree, high-humidity weather, [with] rainfall almost every day. It was a really bad scene: we were just sitting on our hands, like ‘Ugh, this is bad—I need a beer!’”

While some of the farmers who supply the Stanleys with barley for malting still had suitable harvests, and their own 40 acres of heirloom grain were left unscathed, a number of barley growers were not so fortunate: weather conditions were optimal for Fusarium graminearum, a fungal pathogen that causes the wheat and barley disease fusarium head blight. (See “Plant Scourges.”) F. graminearum thrives in warm, moist environments and most often infects flowering plants. But it’s not the fungal infection that causes the most damage to cereal crops. Rather, it’s the mycotoxins produced by some Fusarium species that can be devastating. One such mycotoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), is particularly problematic because even low levels can upset the digestive systems of animals and humans who consume infected grain, earning it the moniker “vomitoxin.”

 

Read full article at TheScientist

Beneficial Brew Drinking green tea appears to boost the activity of DNA repair enzymes.

The paper
C.K. Ho et al., “Effects of single dose and regular intake of green tea (Camellia sinensis) on DNA damage, DNA repair, and heme oxygenase-1 expression in a randomized controlled human supplementation study,” Mol Nutr Food Res,doi:10.1002/mnfr.201300751, 2014.

The context
Researchers have long reported that green tea drinkers have better health outcomes, but why that is has been unclear. To get to the cellular roots of these observations, Iris Benzie of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and her colleagues monitored the activity of DNA repair enzymes in lymphocytes shortly after people drank a cup of green tea and after a week of drinking two cups of tea each day.

 

TheScientist