Representing Virginia Tech faculty members and students from engineering, chemistry, and veterinary medicine, Chemistry Professor Tim Long will give an invited lecture at the 233rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago March 25-29.
The presentation will be an overview of novel polymers developed by Virginia Tech researchers for biomedical applications, with an emphasis on gene delivery and tissue scaffolds. “Both of these emerging technologies are enabled with fundamental advances in polymer chemistry,” Long said.
“Synthetic macromolecules can be easily modified to contain a variety of functional elements capable of interacting with biological systems,” he said. “Initial studies have found macromolecular topology to be a significant parameter in the delivery of DNA into cells.”
In the cell, the new DNA initiates the manufacture of therapeutic proteins, such as might be needed to treat a genetic disease where an enzyme or protein is not produced naturally. The Virginia Tech vectors presently being tested in cell cultures are proving to be superior to surfactant benchmarks and offer reduced toxicity to viral vectors, Long said.
Meanwhile, scientists at Virginia Tech have developed a single-step process for creating fibrous mats from a small organic molecule – a new nanoscale, biocompatible material (Jan. 20, 2006, Science, "Phospholipid Nonwoven Electrospun Membranes," by Matthew G. McKee, John M. Layman, Matthew P. Cashion, and. Long, all at Virginia Tech.).
Since last year, they have improved the durability of the phospholipids through novel photochemistry during electrospinning and have begun to impregnate the porous mats with cells that will initiate tissue regeneration.
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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