:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-09-2013
Like tiny construction workers, cells sculpt embryonic tissues and organs in 3D space. This task is complicated and requires constant communication between cells to coordinate their actions and generate the forces that will shape their environment into complex tissue morphologies.
Biologists have long studied the communication between cells and their behavior while building these structures, but until now, it had not been possible to see the forces cells generate to shape them. A new method to quantify the mechanical forces that cells exert while building tissues and organs can help answer long unresolved questions in biology and provide new diagnostic tools for medicine.
Developed initially in the Wyss Institute at Harvard University by Otger Campàs and Donald Ingber, this technique is the first of its kind to measure the mechanical forces that cells generate in living embryos. Now an assistant professor who holds the Mellichamp Chair in Systems Biology at UC Santa Barbara, Campàs leads a lab that is developing this droplet technique in several new directions, and applying it to discover the patterns of cellular forces that shape embryonic structures in fish and chicken.
“There is a lot of interest in understanding how genetics and mechanics interplay to shape embryonic tissues,” said Campàs. “I believe this technique will help many scientists explore the role that mechanical forces play in morphogenesis and, more generally, in biology.”
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-27-2013
It’s that time of year when we relax and give thanks for our nation, our family, our friends and our HUGE turkeys. Did you know that in the time of the pilgrims, turkeys only weighed up to 6 kg, yet today, male turkeys can weigh a whopping 36 kilos! That’s enormous, and it is all thanks to science and the process of natural selection.
Yet massive size has its drawbacks. Due to their over-bearing bulk, heavy male turkeys are unable to mate which poses a challenge for continuity of the species. That is one of the main reason that all American turkeys are produced by artificial insemination. Certainly not a job for anybody.
Watch this video to learn more.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-16-2013
Engineers at Stanford University have devised a new way to generate electricity from sewage using naturally-occurring “wired microbes” as mini power plants, producing electricity as they digest plant and animal waste.
In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authors Yi Cui, a materials scientist, Craig Criddle, an environmental engineer, and Xing Xie, an interdisciplinary fellow, call their invention a microbial battery.
One day they hope it will be used in places such as sewage treatment plants, or to break down organic pollutants in the “dead zones” of lakes and coastal waters where fertilizer runoff and other organic waste can deplete oxygen levels and suffocate marine life.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-06-2013
A good state of mind — that is, your happiness — affects your genes, scientists say. In the first study of its kind, researchers from UCLA’s Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and the University of North Carolina examined how positive psychology impacts human gene expression.