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Comment: Re:Nature scraping (Score 5, Informative) 77

Usually the compound in your pill is not the compound someone fished out of a microbe. It's been modified to give it better pharmacological properties--last longer in your bloodstream--and to avoid toxicity issues. So there is a lot of intellectual work that goes into making the compound you ingest even if the initial inspiration came from a fungus.

Comment: Re:Nature scraping (Score 4, Insightful) 77

No one takes a molecule from a bacterium or fungus and then starts giving it to patients. You have to find the specific compound that allows the fungus/bacterium to kill its neighbors--a very labor intensive process. Then you have to get its structure. Then you test it to see if is druggable--will it last long enough in the bloodstream to be effective, for example. It probably isn't, so then you need to synthesize analogs and test them. Then you have to test it for toxicity, maybe synthesize more analogs to get around toxicity problems. And then you can start clinical trials--three rounds of them usually. Somewhere along the way you need to devise a way to make the compound in large enough quantities to turn it into a pill or injection or whatever deliverable form you're picking. So there are a lot of steps between "hey this compound from this fungus killed that bacteria," and "take this pill once a day for 10 days."

+ - Chemists Grow Soil Fungus On Cheerios, Discover New Antifungal Compounds->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Many drugs that treat bacterial and fungal infections were found in microbes growing in the dirt. These organisms synthesize the compounds to fend off other bacteria and fungi around them. To find possible new drugs, chemists try to coax newly discovered microbial species to start making their arsenal of antimicrobial chemicals in the lab. But fungi can be stubborn, producing just a small set of already-known compounds.

Now, one team of chemists has hit upon a curiously effective and consistent trick to prod the organisms to start synthesizing novel molecules: Cheerios inside bags. Scientists grew a soil fungus for four weeks in a bag full of Cheerios and discovered a new compound that can block biofilm formation by an infectious yeast. The chemists claim that Cheerios are by far the best in the cereal aisle at growing chemically productive fungi."

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+ - Antiperspirants Could Be Source Of Some Particulate Pollution->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Environmental scientists monitor particulate matter pollution because it poses risks to human health and can affect the climate. Ultrafine particles, up to 100 nm in diameter, are produced by vehicle exhaust and other combustion processes. They also form when volatile chemicals from other sources condense in the atmosphere, often through reactions triggered by sunlight.

Now atmospheric scientists propose that personal care products, such as antiperspirants, could be a potential source of ultrafine particulate matter. On the basis of data from the U.S. and Finland, they find that airborne nanoparticles in highly populated areas often contain silicon. They hypothesize that organic silicon compounds found in cosmetics waft into the air, get oxidized, and contribute to the growth of nanoparticles."

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+ - Magnetic Fields Help Transform Adult Mouse Cells Into Stem Cells->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Biologists have been building up evidence that magnetic fields affect living things in some ways. For example, plants and amphibian embryos develop abnormally when shielded from Earth’s geomagnetic field. Now, for the first time, an international team reports that low-strength magnetic fields may foster the transformation of adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. In fact, when the researchers blocked the Earth's natural magnetic field, the cells couldn't undergo the transformation at all. If confirmed, the phenomenon could lead to new tools for tissue engineering and help researchers understand the potential health effects of changing magnetic fields on astronauts."
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+ - Engineers Build Ultrasmall Organic Laser->

Submitted by ckwu
ckwu (2886397) writes "Researchers have made the tiniest organic laser reported to date. The 8-micrometer-long, 440-nanometer-wide device, which looks like a suspended bridge riddled with holes, is carved into a silicon chip coated with an organic dye. Integrated into microprocessors, such tiny lasers could one day speed up computers by shuttling data using light rather than electrons. The new organic laser is optically pumped—that is, powered by pulses from another laser. But it has a very low threshold—the energy required to start lasing—of 4 microjoules per square centimeter. The low threshold brings the device closer to engineers’ ultimate goal of creating an organic laser that can run on electric current, which would be key for on-chip use."
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+ - Strong And Springy Materials Made In The Freezer->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Many strong, porous inorganic materials, such as silica aerogels and metal foams, currently find use in insulation, aircraft wings, and battery electrodes. But these lightweight materials are brittle. Compress them too much and they crack or crumble. Now researchers have developed a one-step freezing method to make porous inorganic materials that can spring back after being squeezed to 15% of their original size. Basically, they freeze a mixture of inorganic particles and a polymer solution and then thaw it after the material has set. These ultralight elastic materials could find use in tissue-engineering scaffolds, biomedical implants, and electronics."
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+ - Researchers Report Largest DNA Origami To Date->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Bioengineers can harness DNA’s remarkable ability to self-assemble to build two- and three-dimensional nanostructures through DNA origami. Until now, researchers using this approach have been limited to building structures that are tens of square nanometers in size. Now a team reports the largest individual DNA origami structures to date, which reach sizes of hundreds of square nanometers. What’s more, they have developed a less expensive way to synthesize the DNA strands needed, overcoming a tremendous obstacle to scaling up the technology."
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+ - Computer's Heat Sink Used To Slash Cost Of Medical Diagnostic Test->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Researchers have harnessed that heat from a computer CPU to run the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA in a blood sample. The team developed software that cycles the temperature of the CPU to drive PCR’s three distinct steps.The method allowed them to detect miniscule amounts of DNA from a pathogenic parasite that causes Chagas disease. They hope their technique will lead to low-cost diagnostic tests in developing countries."
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+ - Leaves Inspire Potentialy Efficient Material For Solar Cells->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "A new material that mimics the structure of a leaf helps light-sensitive dyes convert low-energy light into high-energy photons, a process known as upconversion. The leaflike nanopaper protects such dyes from oxygen damage, potentially helping solar cells achieve high efficiencies, the researchers say.

Upconversion allows solar cells to harness a greater range of wavelengths in the solar spectrum. Unfortunately, oxygen interferes in this process. So researchers have been looking for ways to keep air away from these dyes."

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+ - Researchers Print Electronic Memory On Paper->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Electronics printed on paper promise to be cheap, flexible, and recyclable, and could lead to applications such as smart labels on foods and pharmaceuticals or as wearable medical sensors. Many engineers have managed to print transistors and solar cells on paper, but one key component of a smart device has been missing—memory. Now a group of researchers has developed a method that uses ink-jet technology to print resistive random access memory on an ordinary piece of 8.5 by 11 inches paper. The memory is robust: Engineers could bend the device 1,000 times without any loss of performance."
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+ - Tackling Athletes' Brain Trauma Before It Kills->

Submitted by carmendrahl
carmendrahl (2593679) writes "In 2007, pro wrestler Chris (The Canadian Crippler) Benoit killed his son, his wife, and himself. Benoit's autopsy showed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive, brain-damaging disorder. He's far from the only athlete to be affected. The signatures of the disease have shown up in autopsies of ice hockey players, boxers, and NFL retirees. Researchers want to detect brain trauma while athletes are still alive. They're zeroing in on features like aggregates of the protein tau. Among the diagnostic hopefuls are positron emission tomography (PET) imaging; diffusion tensor imaging, which is a type of MRI; and cerebrospinal fluid sampling."
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+ - Reproducing a Monet Painting with Aluminum Nanostructures->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Plasmonic printing is a recently developed method to create color images using different shapes and sizes of gold or silver nanostructures. It relies on the oscillations of electrons in the metal surfaces and can produce images with a resolution 100 times that of a common desktop printer. Now researchers have expanded the color palette of the technique using tiny aluminum-capped nanopillars. Each pixel consists of four nanopillars; tuning the diameters and arrangement of the pillars produced a palette of more than 300 different colors. Using these pixels, the researchers created a microscale reproduction of Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise.”"
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+ - Long-Lasting Enzyme Chews Up Cocaine->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Despite cocaine’s undeniable destructiveness, there are no antidotes for overdoses or medications to fight addiction that directly neutralize cocaine’s powerful effects. A natural bacterial enzyme, cocaine esterase, could help by chopping up cocaine in the bloodstream. But the enzyme is unstable in the body, losing activity too quickly to be a viable treatment. Now, using computational design, researchers tweaked the enzyme to simultaneously increase stability and catalytic efficiency. Mice injected with the engineered enzyme survive daily lethal doses of cocaine for an average of 94 hours."
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+ - Botched Executions Put Lethal Injections Under New Scrutiny->

Submitted by carmendrahl
carmendrahl (2593679) writes "Lethal injections are typically regarded as far more humane methods for execution compared to predecessors such as hanging and firing squads.

But the truth about the procedure's humane-ness is unclear. Major medical associations have declared involvement of their member physicians in executions to be unethical, so that means that relatively inexperienced people administer the injections. Mounting supply challenges for the lethal drug cocktails involved are forcing execution teams to change procedures on the fly. This and other problems have contributed to recent crises in Oklahoma and Missouri.

As a new story and interactive graphic explains, states are turning to a number of compound cocktails to get around the supply problems."

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