May 2022

Green fingers: Plant scaffolds for body parts

Green fingers: Plant scaffolds for body parts

Wood, bamboo and other plant-derived materials are widely used to provide structural integrity for buildings. It turns out that plant-derived scaffolds can also be used, on a much smaller scale, to support the culture of cells grown in 3D. Importantly, as well as providing structure, plant structures can provide vasculature, on a similar scale to our own, enabling nutrients and signalling molecules to be carried to cells that are distant from the surface.

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Cytokine storm in a teacup: Growth factor dynamics in cell culture

Cytokine storm in a teacup: Growth factor dynamics in cell culture

Recombinant cytokines and other growth factors underpin cell culture and are as important to biotechnology as semi-conductors are to information technology. They also provide a source of cell-based assay variability. Understanding cytokine dynamics is important to the design of better cell-based assays and manufacturing systems.

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Exosome dominoes: How acute pancreatitis leads to lung injury

Exosome dominoes: How acute pancreatitis leads to lung injury

Acute pancreatitis (AP) is a sudden and severe inflammation of the pancreas sometimes caused by gallstones. In the most severe cases, AP can also lead to injury of the lung. The pathway from pancreatic disease to lung injury is anything but direct and a fundamental role for exosomes has emerged.

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Cancer wars: the return of the cytokine

Cancer wars: the return of the cytokine

In the 1890s, William Coley (pictured) pioneered techniques that boost immune activity against cancer by injecting pathogens into cancer patients to stimulate their immune system. The modern emergence of onco-immunotherapy began with the therapeutic development of cytokines. These messenger proteins modulate both innate and adaptive immunity. Although they have been overshadowed by checkpoint inhibitors for the last decade, there is renewed interest in targeting and harnessing cytokines for cancer immunotherapy.

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