Science

Best from science journals: Saving sculptures and tuning cells

Zika virus labeled red; Macrophage nuclei labeled blue.

Zika virus labeled red; Macrophage nuclei labeled blue.   | Photo Credit: UC San Diego Health

Here are some of the most interesting research to have appeared in top science journals last week

Zeal of Zika

Published in PNAS

The notorious Zika virus is known to preferentially infect the macrophages or the immune cells in our body and cause infection. Researchers have now reported how the virus is able to bypass our bodyguard cells. The virus shuts down a number of genes that are responsible for the function and identity of macrophages. Once the genes are silenced, macrophages won’t be able to produce more immune cells and start an antiviral defense.

Nanoparticle for targeted drug delivery

Published in Advanced Materials

Imagine a pill smaller than the width of a human hair. Scientists have now developed a nanocarrier made of natural polymers that are sensitive to bacterial enzymes and can deliver drugs when they reach a septic environment. They loaded the nanocarrier with an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory agent and found that the nanocarrier was triggered by the bacterial enzymes and released the drugs, thus preventing further spread of infection.

Reprogramming cells

Published in Nature

Skin tissues generated by converting one cell type (red: mesenchymal cells) to another (green: basal keratinocytes) within a large ulcer in a laboratory mouse model.

Skin tissues generated by converting one cell type (red: mesenchymal cells) to another (green: basal keratinocytes) within a large ulcer in a laboratory mouse model.   | Photo Credit: Salk Institute

 

Scientists have now developed a technique to treat skin ulcers, open wounds, and even burn scars. They identified a few factors (proteins and RNA) that influence the formation of the basic skin cells called basal keratinocytes. When mice with skin ulcer were treated with these factors, the ulcers turned into healthy skin in 18 days. At six months, the newly generated cells behaved like normal skin cells. However additional testing and optimisation is needed before human trials, say researchers.

Graphene to guard ancient sculptures

Published in Advanced Functional Materials

Around 2000 BC, when metallurgy was slowly developing, ancient Egyptians and Chinese flattened gold, silver, and copper into thin metal films and coated their sculptures to protect them from corrosion. Now a new study has shown how we can use graphene and palladium to do the same job and preserve artifacts for thousands of years. Ultra thin palladium leaves were coated with graphene and then it was coated on a 3D printed structure. Optical imaging studies showed that it can serve as an ideal protective coating, and can be used from jewellery to ship hulls.

iPhone app for BP monitoring

Published in Scientific reports

Proof-of-concept blood pressure app

Proof-of-concept blood pressure app   | Photo Credit: Michigan State University

 

Do you own an iPhone X? You may soon be able to check your BP using it. A new app has been developed that can measure BP. You will have to press your fingertip on the screen and the app will measure the pressure of the underlying artery. The researchers say that this could pave way for a cuff-less and calibration-free BP monitoring.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 10:27:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/best-from-science-journals-saving-sculptures-and-tuning-cells/article24955008.ece

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