AncientBiotics Cropped 445x124A one thousand year old Anglo-Saxon remedy for eye infections which originates from a manuscript in the British Library has been found to kill the modern-day superbug MRSA in an unusual research collaboration at The University of Nottingham.

Dr Christina Lee, an Anglo-Saxon expert from the School of English has enlisted the help of microbiologists from University’s Centre for Biomolecular Sciences to recreate a 10th century potion for eye infections from Bald’s Leechbook an Old English leatherbound volume in the British Library, to see if it really works as an antibacterial remedy. The Leechbook is widely thought of as one of the earliest known medical textbooks and contains Anglo-Saxon medical advice and recipes for medicines, salves and treatments.

Study yields insight into generating antibodies that target different strains of HIV.

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Through an investigation of a fundamental process that guides the maturation of immune cells, researchers have revealed new insights into possible ways to vaccinate people to generate potent antibodies of the type that are predicted to offer protection against diverse strains of the highly mutable HIV.

The findings, described this week in the journal Cell, suggest that sequentially administering several different forms of a potential HIV vaccine could stimulate a stronger immune response than delivering a cocktail of these variants all at once. The study also sheds new light on a fundamental process of immune-cell development known as “affinity maturation.”

brainTissues.jpgBorrowing from microfabrication techniques used in the semiconductor industry, MIT and Harvard Medical School (HMS) engineers have developed a simple and inexpensive way to create three-dimensional brain tissues in a lab dish.

The new technique yields tissue constructs that closely mimic the cellular composition of those in the living brain, allowing scientists to study how neurons form connections and to predict how cells from individual patients might respond to different drugs. The work also paves the way for developing bioengineered implants to replace damaged tissue for organ systems, according to the researchers.

“We think that by bringing this kind of control and manipulation into neurobiology, we can investigate many different directions,” says Utkan Demirci, an assistant professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST).

Demirci and Ed Boyden, associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT’s Media Lab and McGovern Institute, are senior authors of a paper describing the new technique, which appears in the Nov. 27 online edition of the journal Advanced Materials. The paper’s lead author is Umut Gurkan, a postdoc at HST, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Qilin Cao, MDResearchers at UTHealth have demonstrated in rats that transplanting genetically modified adult stem cells into an injured spinal cord can help restore the electrical pathways associated with movement. The results are published in today’s issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

In spinal cord injury, demyelination, or the destruction of the myelin sheath in the central nervous system, occurs. The myelin sheath, produced by cells called oligodendrocytes, wraps around the axons of nerves and helps speed activity and insulate electrical conduction. Without it, the nerves cannot send messages to make muscles move.

by Susan Brown

Biologists have developed an efficient way to genetically modify human embryonic stem cells. Their approach, which uses bacterial artificial chromosomes to swap in defective copies of genes, will make possible the rapid development of stem cell lines that can both serve as models for human genetic diseases and as testbeds on which to screen potential treatments.

“This will help to open up the whole human embryonic stem cell field. Otherwise, there’s really few efficient ways you can study genetics with them,” said Yang Xu, professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego who directed the research, which was funded by California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell research agency, established after the passage of Proposition 71.

A researcher at Iowa State University has discovered how a group of proteins from plant pathogenic bacteria interact with DNA in the plant cell, opening up the possibility for what the scientist calls a "cascade of advances."

Adam Bogdanove, associate professor in plant pathology, was researching the molecular basis of bacterial diseases of rice when he and Matthew Moscou, a student in the bioinformatics and computation biology graduate program, discovered that the so-called TAL effector proteins injected into plant cells by strains of the bacterium Xanthomonas attach at specific locations to host DNA molecules.

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