Dutch researcher Patrick Vronen from Wageningen University has investigated several methods for converting toxins in high-starch potatoes into a raw material for steroid hormones used, for example, in contraceptive pills.
The molecular structure of the potato toxin solanidine, which is found in high-starch potatoes, is similar to that of diosgenine. Diosgenine is the current precursor for synthetic hormones. Patrick Vronen converted solanidine into dehydropregnenolone acetate (DPA). This substance is an intermediary product in the production of hormones that are similar to progesterone and cortisone.
The interest in the conversion of potato toxins into the intermediary DPA, is partly due to the increasing price of the current raw material for steroid hormones. The current precursor for diosgenine is isolated from Costus speciosus, a ginger species from China. The availability of diosgenine and the monopoly position of China in the supply of the raw material both pose risks.
Nalinie Moerlie | alfa
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Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.
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Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds
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