Nanoparticles Can Damage DNA Without Crossing Cellular Barrier

Metal nanoparticles use a newly observed cell signal process to wreak havoc indirectly

Scientists know that nanoparticles can damage DNA in cells through direct interaction. Now, though, it appears that nanoparticles can also mess with DNA on the far side of a cellular barrier, by creating signaling molecules -- a never-before-seen phenomenon.

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Electric Fields Halt Spread of Brain Cancer

Until the naked mole rats yield their secrets, humanity will still have to worry about treating and controlling cancer. And to that end, one company may have figured out a novel way to prevent the spread of a highly dangerous form of brain cancer, through the use of pulsing electric fields.

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Yeast Cells Armored in Silica Could Herald Future Nanotech Experiments

Korean researchers encapsulate living yeast cells in synthetic silica armor and watch what happens

In an interesting experiment, researchers sheathed living yeast cells in armor of silica. The cells survived, and emerged as unusual armored versions of themselves that could become building blocks for nanotech applications.

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Scientists Observe Live Human Cells Communicating For the First Time

The basis of a human body's cells' ability to communicate with one another is the vesicle. That little ball packed with biological material is the medium through which all of our billions of cells coordinate with each other to keep our conscious stable and our bodies responsive. However, despite that importance, high resolution live imagery of cell and vesicle interaction has remained elusive.

Now, scientists from the University of Copenhagen have succeeded producing the first hi-res live recording of the interaction. In the nearer term, this development could greatly assist the study of diseases, like schizophrenia and Huntington's, that result from vesicle-cell interaction failure.

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How Your Body Packs Two Meters of DNA Into a Six-Micron Cell Nucleus

I can't seem to manage to keep my iPod in my bag for a day without creating an awful tangle of headphones, but my body's cells can work with two meters of stringy DNA into a tiny nucleus without making a knot. The secret is a structure called a fractal globule, according to a research paper to be published tomorrow in the journal Science.

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Chemists Win Nobel Prize For Atom-by-Atom Ribosome Map

Rounding out the 2009 science Nobel Prizes are Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath, who will receive the prize in chemistry for their work on an atomic-scale map of the ribosome.

Ribosomes are the cellular organelle responsible for assembling amino acids into proteins. If DNA is the blueprint, ribosomes are the construction workers. Ribosomes themselves are composed of a combination of RNA and specialized proteins.

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Electron Microscopes Powered by Quantum Mechanics Could See Through Living Cells

Electron microscopes are great and all, but the problem is that you can't use them to get up close and personal inside a living cell without killing it. That might change, however, as scientists are working to use quantum mechanics to overcome this obstacle.

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Scientists Teach E. coli Bacteria to Count

A new technique for making simple computer chips out of E. coli DNA could put expiration dates on genetically modified organisms or turn regular cells into poison detectors

Generally, DNA is only good for preserving and passing on blueprints for making organisms. However, scientists at MIT and Boston University have altered E. coli DNA to perform another function within the cell, like basic computing. Essentially, they've taught E. coli to count.

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Knees Are The New Window to the Soul

Our daily roundup of links

A stove that burns trash while cooking food is being plugged as a way to combat the problem of excessive trash, while also providing a means to cook food and boil water for the poor in Kenya. The "community cooker" -- which is close to being put in use -- burns at a high enough temperature "to destroy toxins in the rubbish, particularly plastic." There's a tall chimney meant to carry away the fumes but, I still can't quite imagine wanting to eat anything that's been so close to the smell and emissions from burning garbage.

Also in today's links: science and Islam, garbage and food, and more.

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Gold, DNA Mix Could Result in Biological Nano Spies

Scientists use genetic material to develop gold nanostructures that could report on a cell’s inner workings in real time

Gold is valuable to many in copious quantities, but for a team of Duke University scientists, a sub-cellular amount was all that was needed to create a nanostructure which could potentially act as a tiny biological sensor. One which could penetrate individual cells and report back on a cell’s inner workings in real time.

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Do Cells Make Noise?

Listening to cells might help scientists catch cancers without painful biopsies

You have to listen very, very closely, but yes, cells produce a symphony of sounds. Although they wont win a Grammy anytime soon, the various audio blips produced by cells are giving scientists insight into cellular biomechanics and could even be used to help detect cancer.

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Shock to the System

How a radical new implant that zaps patients back to life is upending our understanding of the brain

For six years after a brutal beating, a 38-year-old man lay in a minimally conscious state, effectively unable to communicate. Then, with the permission of his family, a team of neuroscientists at New Yorkâ€Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation attempted a last-resort experimental treatment known as deep brain stimulation, or DBS. Using brain scans as a guide, they implanted tiny electrodes deep in the man´s head and wired them to a pacemaker-like device beneath his collarbone.

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Warning Regarding the Nine-Volt Safe

The Five-Minute Project in the November 2006 issue, â€The Nine-Volt Safe,†involved sliding off the top of a nine-volt battery. Although experts advised us that it is not normally dangerous, and we tried the project ourselves without incident, it has come to our attention that in rare instances, the cells inside the battery can â€vent†or rupture, potentially exposing the handler to the chemicals inside. Given even the small chance of injury related to this project, we advise you not to undertake it.

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