Daily Archives: February 17, 2012

Physicists discover evidence of rare hypernucleus


Physicists in Italy have discovered the first evidence of a rare nucleus that doesn’t exist in nature and lives for just 10-10 seconds before decaying. It’s a type of hypernucleus that, like all nuclei, contains an assortment of neutrons and protons. But unlike ordinary nuclei, hypernuclei also contain at least one hyperon, a particle that consists of three quarks, including at least one strange quark. Hypernuclei are thought to form the core of strange matter that may exist in distant … Continue reading

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‘DNA robot’ targets cancer cells


Scientists have developed and tested a “DNA robot” that delivers payloads such as drug molecules to specific cells. The container was made using a method called DNA origami, in which long DNA chains are folded in a prescribed way. Then, so-called aptamers – which can recognise specific cell types – were used to lock the barrel-shaped robot. In lab tests described in ‘Science’, the locks opened on contact with cancer cell proteins, releasing antibodies that halted the cells’ growth. The method could find … Continue reading

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New molecular map created


A team of scientists from The Scripps Research Institute, collaborating with members of the drug discovery company Receptos, has created the first high-resolution virtual image of cellular structures called S1P1 receptors, which are critical in controlling the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis and other diseases. This new molecular map is already pointing researchers toward promising new paths for drug discovery and aiding them in better understanding how certain existing drugs work. The molecular structure, described in the February 17, … Continue reading

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Gecko glue holds up 700 pounds


For years, biologists have been amazed by the power of gecko feet, which let these 5-ounce lizards produce an adhesive force roughly equivalent to carrying nine pounds up a wall without slipping. Now, a team of polymer scientists and a biologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have discovered exactly how the gecko does it, leading them to invent “Geckskin,” a device that can hold 700 pounds on a smooth wall. The group includes biologist Duncan Irschick, a functional morphologist who … Continue reading

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