There is currently a great deal of interest in the health-associated properties of probiotics, also known as ‘beneficial’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria, and prebiotics, the food needed for the growth of probiotic when inside our bodies.
University of Leicester scientists have discovered a natural fruit-based extract that dramatically improves the growth and probiotic qualities of ‘friendly’ bacteria such as the lactic acid bacteria, which are found in most widely-advertised health supplement drinks.
The fruit extract is the invention of Dr Primrose Freestone, of the University’s Department of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation, and Dr Richard Haigh of the Department of Genetics.
The product, LabEnhancerTM, is currently being marketed in collaboration with Dr Andy Lee, of Plant Bioscience Limited (www.pbltechnology.com). LabEnhancerTM elicited a great deal of interest when it was recently showcased by PBL at the International Probio2007 conference in Nantes. As a result, over a dozen companies are now keen to exploit its potential in probiotic diagnostics, bulk culture processes and as a prebiotic supplement. LabEnhancerTM is therefore expected to have major applications in the world of probiotic and prebiotic technologies, and company evaluations are already underway.
Dr Freestone commented: ‘We are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive response to Lab EnhancerTM amongst the probiotic and associated industries. I’m continuing to work closely with PBL in promoting the technology and have been excited in the high level of interest that we have generated in such a short space of time. Although lactic acid bacteria play a major role in the production of many products, including probiotic yoghurts, they can be quite difficult to grow and can particularly suffer damage during their processing for use as probiotics. One of the main values of LabEnhancerTM is that it helps lactic acid bacteria to recover from these stresses therefore making them much more effective as a probiotic’.
Ather Mirza | alfa
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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.
A warming planet
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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