Jul21

Signal may send cancer’s cellular factories into overdrive

A network of signals active in almost all types of cancer sends the protein factories in our cells into overdrive, and may help fuel a tumour’s uncontrolled growth, new research suggests.

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutes, identified a molecular trigger responsible for ramping up activity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) – the cellular factory that makes the building blocks cancer cells need to keep growing.

The findings may help to explain how cancer cells maintain their high levels of metabolism – and could uncover future targets for cancer treatment

The top three images show human hepatocarcinoma cells with the endoplasmic reticulum (blue) and nucleus (red). Copyright: Dr Chris Bakal, The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

The bottom image shows human epithelial cells from breast tissue treated with Torin, an inhibitor of TOR kinase, where the endoplasmic reticulum is (green), nuclei (red) and F-actin (grey) Copyright: Dr Chris Bakal, The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Read more: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/health/2014/140709-pr-signal-may-send-cancer-into-overdrive.aspx

Jul18

Human and animal diseases – proof that it’s not always good to share

Researchers at the University of Liverpool are building the world’s most comprehensive database describing human and animal pathogens, which can be used to prevent and tackle disease outbreaks around the globe.

The Enhanced Infectious Diseases (EID2) database has been developed by the Liverpool University Climate and Infectious Diseases of Animals (LUCINDA) team and is funded by a BBSRC Strategic Tools and Resources Development Fund grant.

Mapping the relationships between human and animal diseases, disease-causing pathogens and the ways in which these pathogens are spread can offer huge benefits when it comes to knowing what the disease risks are in a population or geographical area, and how best to manage and eliminate them.

Image one: This shows the relationship between diseases of domestic animal and human host species, based on information currently in the database. The size of the circles represents the number of pathogen species found for each host; the arrows linking these circles represent the number of pathogen species shared by each pair of hosts (the thicker the arrow, the greater the number of pathogen species they share); and the colour of the circles is related to the type of host (humans, other mammals, birds, rodents). Copyright: Dr Maya Wardeh, LUCINDA team

Image 2: This image shows the number and types of pathogens found in EU countries. The size of each circle is proportional to the number of pathogen species and the different coloured circles represent: bacteria (greenish yellow), fungi (red), helminths (purple blue), protozoa (orange), and viruses (blue). 
Copyright: Dr Maya Wardeh, LUCINDA team

For more information go to: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/health/2014/140711-f-dig-data-approach-mapping-disease.aspx

Jul14

BBSRC-funded scientists are breaking down bacterial communities

These images by Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall, Dr Laura Hobley and Ms Rachel Gillespie from the University of Dundee show complex social communities of bacteria, known as biofilms.

Bacteria are single-celled organisms but they have the amazing capability to form these altruistic communities. Familiar examples of biofilms include dental plaque on your teeth and the slime that forms down your plug hole.

Biofilms made by a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis are waterproof because the cells make a raincoat to protect themselves.  You can see how effective this raincoat is by looking at the coloured water droplets that were placed on the biofilm pictured above.

When living in a biofilm community, bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and are harder to remove from surfaces.

If we can understand what makes bacteria form a biofilm we can use this information to develop new ways to treat the chronic biofilm related infections that form on surgical implants, inside catheters, or in the lungs of people with Cystic Fibrosis.

Find out more about what this team is up to at BBSRC’s Great British Bioscience Festival in November: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/society/exhibitions/gb-bioscience-festival/biofilms-building-bacterial-cities.aspx

 

Jul10

Bloodsucking mite threatens UK honey bees
This is an image of a Varroa mite in a beehive.
Scientists have discovered how this bloodsucking parasite has transformed Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) into one of the biggest threats facing UK honeybees.
Honeybees are a key pollinating insect, adding around $40Bn globally to crop value. Over recent years the spread of parasites and the viruses they transmit has resulted in high overwintering colony losses.
New and emerging threats to insect pollinators are putting increasing pressure on the agricultural sector to meet the demands of a growing population.
DWV is one of the most common viruses infecting European honeybees. Although present in almost all colonies, high levels of deformed wing disease – characterised by developmental deformities, reduced foraging ability and longevity – are only common when Varroa is also present.
Researchers at the University of Warwick have discovered how the disease is amplified in the presence of Varroa destructor, a tiny parasitic mite invading hives across the globe.
Read more on this story: http://bit.ly/1qZtRaQ
For more bee related news: http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bquwSmky
Image by Giles San Martin

Bloodsucking mite threatens UK honey bees

This is an image of a Varroa mite in a beehive.

Scientists have discovered how this bloodsucking parasite has transformed Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) into one of the biggest threats facing UK honeybees.

Honeybees are a key pollinating insect, adding around $40Bn globally to crop value. Over recent years the spread of parasites and the viruses they transmit has resulted in high overwintering colony losses.

New and emerging threats to insect pollinators are putting increasing pressure on the agricultural sector to meet the demands of a growing population.

DWV is one of the most common viruses infecting European honeybees. Although present in almost all colonies, high levels of deformed wing disease – characterised by developmental deformities, reduced foraging ability and longevity – are only common when Varroa is also present.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have discovered how the disease is amplified in the presence of Varroa destructor, a tiny parasitic mite invading hives across the globe.

Read more on this story: http://bit.ly/1qZtRaQ

For more bee related news: http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bquwSmky

Image by Giles San Martin

Jul07

Using what Mother Nature gave us

Reports concerning dwindling reserves of fossil fuels and the rising costs of fuel are frequent reminders of the challenges faced by a global society with ever increasing energy demands.

With this major challenge upon us, scientists are searching for novel ways to harness renewable energy supplies such as sunlight, winds and waves to create fuel.

Inspired by plants, which harness energy from the sun, BBSRC-funded scientists from the Universities of Leeds, East Anglia and Cambridge have come together to build artificial systems, based on the natural process of photosynthesis, to develop energy.

Instead of using green chlorophyll pigments like plants, they are using semi-conductor nanoparticlesmaterials that capture sunlight and from this sunlight can generate energy. This energy can then be coupled to biology’s version of conducting wires (metallo-proteins) that transfer the energy to a catalyst. Once together they are used to make hydrogen gas, which can be used to power cars, aircraft and a range of electric devices.

Top image: An artistic impression of a semi-conductor nanoparticle (top) coupled to a metalloprotein (middle) that forms a conducting wire and transport energised electrons to the metallic surface (bottom).

Bottom Image: An artistic impression of a semi-conducting nanoparticle attached to a bacterium.

Read more: http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~phyljcj/Research.htm

Read more: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/industrial-biotechnology/2013/130122-n-uea-scientists-mimic-nature.aspx

Images from Lars Jeuken from the University of Leeds

Jun30

Exercise in high-tech spaces

Researchers are getting people exercising in advanced but confined scanners to study the fundamental biomechanics and physiology of the human body, research that could lead to new ways to improve quality of life in ageing populations.

Watch this BBSRC-video to find out more: 

http://youtu.be/tO8fpK1GWQE

Read more: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/health/2014/140521-f-muscle-in-motion-to-exercise-in-ageing.aspx

Jun27

2009 overall BBSRC photo competition winner

Copyright: Thomas Endlein, University of Cambridge.
To enter this years Images with Impact competition, seeking the best images that showcase UK bioscience and its importance in everyday life, enter at: http://bbsrc2014.picturk.com/.
This striking image from BBSRC-funded Thomas Endlein shows an Asian Weaver ant, upside down on a smooth surface, and carrying a weight in its jaws.
Asian Weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) can carry weights of more than 100 times their own body weight whilst upside down on a smooth surface. To do this, they have incredibly sticky pads on their feet.
Along with their extraordinary carrying capabilities weaver ants are also known for their territorial tendency. They readily defend against intruders making them a useful tool in controlling agricultural insect pests, avoiding the need for chemical insecticides.They have traditionally been used in this way in Chinese and Southeast Asian citrus orchards for at least 1,500 years.
To see more images from the last competition and to find out how to win the competition visit: 
http://youtu.be/k_1EFfdO_NU

2009 overall BBSRC photo competition winner

Copyright: Thomas Endlein, University of Cambridge.

To enter this years Images with Impact competition, seeking the best images that showcase UK bioscience and its importance in everyday life, enter at: http://bbsrc2014.picturk.com/.

This striking image from BBSRC-funded Thomas Endlein shows an Asian Weaver ant, upside down on a smooth surface, and carrying a weight in its jaws.

Asian Weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) can carry weights of more than 100 times their own body weight whilst upside down on a smooth surface. To do this, they have incredibly sticky pads on their feet.

Along with their extraordinary carrying capabilities weaver ants are also known for their territorial tendency. They readily defend against intruders making them a useful tool in controlling agricultural insect pests, avoiding the need for chemical insecticides.They have traditionally been used in this way in Chinese and Southeast Asian citrus orchards for at least 1,500 years.

To see more images from the last competition and to find out how to win the competition visit: 

http://youtu.be/k_1EFfdO_NU

Jun25

BBSRC launches image competition as part of 20th anniversary programme
Open to the UK public, students and the bioscience research community
£2,400 of prizes to be won for images capturing exciting developments in bioscience
Today BBSRC launches Images with Impact: the Great British Bioscience Image Competition, seeking the best images that showcase UK bioscience and its importance in everyday life.
There are fantastic prizes up for grabs, with a total prize fund of over £2,400. A shortlist will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges and then the public will get their say and vote for the overall winner.
Submissions will close on 6 October 2014 so be creative and get snapping.

  • BBSRC launches image competition as part of 20th anniversary programme
  • Open to the UK public, students and the bioscience research community
  • £2,400 of prizes to be won for images capturing exciting developments in bioscience

Today BBSRC launches Images with Impact: the Great British Bioscience Image Competition, seeking the best images that showcase UK bioscience and its importance in everyday life.

There are fantastic prizes up for grabs, with a total prize fund of over £2,400. A shortlist will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges and then the public will get their say and vote for the overall winner.

Submissions will close on 6 October 2014 so be creative and get snapping.

Jun23

Delivering drugs to the placenta during pregnancy

BBSRC-funded scientists from the University of Manchester are making tiny particles called liposomes, which are used to safely deliver drugs to the placenta during pregnancy.

These vibrant images show these liposomes (green) binding to the surface of human placental tissue.

The liposomes are tiny bubbles of fat which can be used to deliver drugs. “homing peptides” are added to the liposome surface so that they only deliver their cargo to where it is needed. And the liposomes are coated with a “stealth” chemical to stop them being recognised and destroyed by the body’s immune cells.

When injected into the body, the liposomes bypass all other cells and organs, only binding to the placental surface and, thereby only delivering their drug cargo to placental cells. This lowers the risk of any nasty side effects for the mother and her baby from the drugs being delivered.

Images: Lynda Harris from the University of Manchester

Jun16

Spiders use their web in ways you can’t imagine!

New BBSRC-funded research shows that spider silk transmits vibrations across a wide range of frequencies so that, when plucked like a guitar string, its sound carries information about prey, mates, and even the structural integrity of a web.

The discovery was made by researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Strathclyde, and Sheffield who fired bullets and lasers at spider silk to study how it vibrates.

They found that, uniquely, when compared to other materials, spider silk can be tuned to a wide range of harmonics. The findings could inspire a wide range of new technologies, such as tiny, light-weight sensors.

Video of a fly hitting a spider web and subsequent capture and wrapping by the common garden spider Araneus diadematus from the University of Oxford.

For more information visit: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-06-03-spiders-know-meaning-web-music

For more spider related science visit: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/140604-pr-could-spiders-be-key-to-saving-bees.aspx