Cell Guidance Systems Blog

Cell guidance systems: Durotaxis

Cell guidance systems: Durotaxis

Tissue development and homeostasis relies on the availability of spatiotemporal reference points provided by localized variations in physical and chemical parameters. These create gradients along which cells can move and be maintained. Durotaxis is a less well-known but important mechanism by which cells move along a gradient of elasticity (stiffness).

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Going viral? Strategies for RNA therapeutic delivery

Going viral? Strategies for RNA therapeutic delivery

Therapeutic RNA delivery can be accomplished by a variety of viral or non-viral methods. The type of RNA structure carried by these diverse delivery methods also varies (e.g., oligonucleotides, miRNA, siRNA, lncRNA, mRNA, saRNAs). The particular delivery method used is dependent on the types of RNA and the target and is a hugely important consideration for the development of effective drugs.

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Beyond GFP: a growing and versatile molecular toolbox

Beyond GFP: a growing and versatile molecular toolbox

GFP has given rise to a powerful and versatile molecular toolbox. Cycles of rational design and directed mutagenesis, as well as the isolation of entirely new fluorophores from different species, are continuously pushing the capabilities of fluorescent protein (FP) biosensors to photophysical and biochemical extremes.

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Green fluorescent protein: GFP legend and legacy

Green fluorescent protein: GFP legend and legacy

Green fluorescent protein (GFP) was isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria in the early 1960s. On its way to earning Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien a Nobel prize in 2008, this protein and variants derived from it have illuminated countless scientific explorations and shed light on many previously dark secrets of biology, proving almost indispensable in life science research. A plethora of variants and new fluorescent proteins are building on the legacy of this versatile molecular biology tool.

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Anti-microbial resistance: fixing the innovation gap

Anti-microbial resistance: fixing the innovation gap

Each year, 1.27 million deaths are caused by drug-resistant microbes. These bugs are currently developing resistance at a faster rate than new drugs are developed. In 30 years’ time, if this innovation gap continues, 10 million people are forecast to die each year from infections that were once treatable. Such a toll would surpass even cancer as a cause of mortality. With such a grave threat to human health, why isn’t more being done? Why aren’t more antibiotics being developed?

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Building a brake pedal: MDSCs as targets for immunotherapy

Building a brake pedal: MDSCs as targets for immunotherapy

The immune response is orchestrated. There are mechanisms to activate and deactivate activities. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are immune cells that act as regulators of immune responses. They are important in several diseases including tumor growth and the response to cancer therapies, Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD), various autoimmune diseases, and COVID-19. Novel drugs developed to modulate MDSCs are showing promise with ongoing clinical trials for COVID-19 and some cancers.

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Alternatives to CRISPR-Cas9

Alternatives to CRISPR-Cas9

The impact of CRISPR-Cas9 technology is undeniable. Yet, it is not without limitations. As such, researchers have since adopted modifications to the original technology as well as alternatives that address some of these limitations.

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Bone shaker: Using nanovibrations to induce bone formation

Bone shaker: Using nanovibrations to induce bone formation

Increasingly, the key roles of biophysical cues in modulating stem cell response have been studied in vitro. Based on the ability of cells to actively sense and react to their microenvironment through mechanotransduction systems, these studies have shown that the growth and differentiation of stem cells can be controlled—even in the absence of biochemical stimuli such as growth factors. These reports further suggest that the stimulation delivered by biophysical cues actually have advantages over biochemical stimuli.

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Peptides set to power a drug revolution

Peptides set to power a drug revolution

Among the five classes of therapeutics, peptides represent a unique niche of pharmaceutical compounds within the protein class. The excitement surrounding peptide therapy arises from their distinct physical and biochemical features that present an opportunity for therapeutic intervention that can specifically target a wide range of cells and manipulate their response on a molecular level. However, challenges around their pharmacokinetics, notably poor stability have hampered more widespread use. Addressing these issues will release a new wave of drugs for urgent medical challenges such as anti-microbial resistance.

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Transmission of cytokines in pregnant mothers infected with SARS-CoV2

Transmission of cytokines in pregnant mothers infected with SARS-CoV2

The effect of Covid on pregnant women is of great importance particularly in relation to the development of cytokine storms and the harmful effects these can have. A recent study published in Nature Immunology reported on maternal SARS-CoV2 infection and transmission of cytokines and antibodies to the neonate.

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