Mechanosensing: harnessing nuclear mechanics to understand health and disease

A study led by IBEC researchers, and published in Nature Cell Biology, shows that applying mechanical force to the cell nucleus affects the transport of proteins across the nuclear membrane. In doing so, this controls cellular processes and could play a key role in various diseases, such as cancer. This entails a novel approach to understanding aspects of cancer invasion and metastasis, opening the door to potential new techniques for diagnosis and therapy.

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Mechanical signals involved in the early development of the mouse cerebral cortex described for the first time

A scientific team coordinated by José Antonio del Río from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) observed the mechanical signals and traction forces involved in the migration of Cajal-Retzius cells, a group of neurons that play an important role in the development of the cerebral cortex. The study, conducted on rodents, has been published in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.

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The first light-controlled drug that could improve the hearing of people with cochlear implants

Researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) in Spain and the University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany achieve, for the first time, in vivo light-activated auditory stimulation without the need for genetic manipulation. This new light-controlled drug, capable of triggering the neural pathways involved in hearing, can contribute to improving the spectral resolution of cochlear implants used by people with profound hearing loss or deafness.

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Nanorobots to fight bacterial infections

Researchers develop self-contained micro- and nanorobots with antimicrobial activity, capable of attacking bacteria in the site of infection. The work has been led by Samuel Sánchez (Institute for Bioengineering of Catalunya (IBEC) and Cesar de la Fuente-Núñez (University of Pennsylvania, USA). The new technology, tested in mice, is a valuable tool for the treatment of bacterial infections in a controlled and localized way. In a future not so far, it could help combat infections.

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Innovative bioengineered spheres might help treating diabetes

Researchers from IBEC, in collaboration with IDIBAPS in Barcelona, have developed nontoxic small spheres able to respond to variations in glucose levels, and producing insulin in vitro. These biomimetic spheroids containing pancreatic β-cells were prepared based on 3D bioprinting. This approach might help in the future improving clinical outcomes of β-cell transplantation strategies for diabetes treatment, as well as for in vitro drug screening platforms.

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Cell fusion ‘awakens’ regenerative potential of human retina

Fusing human retinal cells with adult stem cells could be a potential therapeutic strategy to treat retinal damage and visual impairment, according to the findings of a new study published in the journal eBioMedicine, with participation of Nuria Montserrat´s Group at IBEC. The hybrid cells act by awakening the regenerative potential of human retinal tissue, previously only thought to be the preserve of cold-blood vertebrates.

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Detecting lung infections with breath analysis and machine learning

IBEC researchers, together with clinicians from Sant Pau Hospital and Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, use “electronic noses” and machine learning to analyse the breath of patients, identifying with high accuracy those with lung infections of P. aeruginosa, a multidrug resistant pathogen. This method could represent a non-invasive and efficient tool to diagnose and monitor patients with a bacterial lung infection, offering a faster alternative to standard sputum cultures.

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