* New Scientist, ”Immortality of all cancer cells exposed as a myth” Here is an excerpt,
“Far from being immortal, most cancer cells seem unable to multiply limitlessly and spread throughout the body.
Dot Bennett of St George’s University of London and colleagues found that only four of 37 skin cancer samples they examined displayed the supposed hallmark of cancer. “We thought they’d all be immortal, but they weren’t,” she says.
By studying the molecular profiles of the cancer cells as they grew in the lab, the team found that many appeared to have hit a “telomere crisis” and stopped dividing. Telomeres are the caps that protect the ends of chromosomes and they shorten every time a cell divides. In a telomere crisis, the tips become so short that the cell mistakes them for DNA breaks and tries to repair them, generating freak cells that die or become dormant.”
* New Scientist, “Self-healing plastic fixed with a laser’s light touch” Here is an excerpt,
“Unlike regular polymers like the polystyrene that vending machines cups are made from, or the clear polycarbonate that CDs are pressed with, the molecules in the new rubbery polymers are not linked by strong covalent bonds – which involve atoms sharing electrons.
Instead, the spaghetti-like base units of the materials terminate in ‘ligand’ groups that like to link to free zinc based groups through ionic bonding. When ultraviolet light hits these zinc groups, they absorb energy and convert it into heat.
It’s that heat that can be used for self-repair.”
* News Scientist, “Genes from algae allow blind mice to see“. Note: One day in the not too distance future, I hope blind people can be helped. Here is an excerpt,
“BLIND people could one day have their sight restored thanks to a treatment that borrows a gene from an unlikely source – algae – and inserts it into the retina. The technique has succeeded in restoring the ability to sense light and dark to blind mice, and clinical trials in humans could begin in as little as two years.
“The idea is to develop a treatment for blindness,” says Alan Horsager, a neuroscientist at the Institute of Genetic Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, who leads the research. “We introduce a gene that encodes a light-sensitive protein, and we target the expression of that gene to a subset of retinal cells.”
Some 15 million people worldwide have some form of blindness, such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In people with these conditions the photoreceptors, which transform light hitting the eye into electrical impulses, are damaged, preventing the brain from receiving image information.”