Key player identified in bacterial infections

torrentsjanA group at IBEC has identified a important factor in E. coli infection, opening the way to developing targeted drugs against the potentially deadly condition.

Most E. coli bacterial strains occur naturally in the human gut and pose no harm to health, except for the one particular serotype that always hits the news, O157:H7, which can cause food poisoning and can become life-threatening in certain patients.

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IBEC internal collaboration succeeds in measuring bacterial cell response to electrical fields

Two groups working together at IBEC demonstrate the potential of electrical studies of single bacterial cells in a paper published in ACS Nano.

Gabriel Gomila’s Nanoscale Bioelectrical Characterization group and that of Antonio Juárez, Microbial Biotechnology and Host-pathogen Interaction, combined their expertise on microscopic electrical measurements and bacteria respectively to come up with a way to study the response to external electrical fields of just a single bacterial cell.

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Scientists develop first light-operated drug for most common target proteins

Researchers in IBEC’s Nanoprobes and Nanoswitches group and their collaborators have announced the development of the first ever light-controlled therapeutic agent whose effects focus specifically on the largest, most important class of drug target proteins – G protein-coupled receptors.

In the journal Nature Chemical Biology this week, the scientists reveal Alloswitch-1, the latest advance in their research into photoswitchable (or light-operated) drugs. Controlling drug activity with light means that the therapeutic effects can be accurately delivered locally, thus reducing their effect on other areas and the resultant side effects, and helps reduce the dosage required.

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Researchers measure a property of DNA for the first time

The electric polarizability of DNA is a fundamental property that directly influences its biological functions. Despite the importance of this property, however, its measurement has remained elusive so far.

In a study published in PNAS today, researchers at Barcelona’s Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) led by Laura Fumagalli, senior researcher at IBEC and lecturer at the University of Barcelona, and their collaborators at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) and at Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), and at Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia (CNB-CSIC) and IMDEA Nanociencia in Madrid, describe how they have found a way to directly measure DNA electric polarizability – represented by its dielectric constant, which indicates how a material reacts to an applied electric field – for the first time ever.

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IBEC group uncovers new mechanism for wound healing

When we think of wound healing, we normally think of wounds to our skin. But wounds happen inside the body in all sorts of tissues and organs, and can have implications in many chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Wounds also favour cancer progression by providing a physical and chemical environment that promotes the invasion of malignant cells.

Now, a group at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) has found a new way to decipher the mechanisms of wound healing, and by doing so has uncovered a new understanding of how cells move and work together to close a gap in a tissue.

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Delving deeper into the inner workings of cells

Research carried out at IBEC has opened the way to new applications to control the activation of neurons and other working parts of cells.

The dream of precisely and remotely controlling every aspect of the cell’s inner workings in tissue offers the promise of uncovering the molecular mechanisms of complex cellular processes, which in turn can lead to leaps in our understanding of what happens when things go wrong – for example, how and when neurodegenerative diseases can develop.

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Heparin exhibits dual activity against malaria

A study by researchers from IBEC, ISGlobal and the University of Barcelona published in Nanomedicine opens the door to improved treatment of malaria with heparin.

Heparin (left) has been shown to have antimalarial activity and specific binding affinity for red blood cells infected with Plasmodium falciparum, versus non-infected blood cells. The study explores whether these properties could be exploited in a strategy based on the targeted delivery of antimalarial agents.

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Why Alzheimer’s patients have no memory loss when the disease starts

Researchers at IBEC and the UB have discovered a new factor that participates in the lack of symptoms in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease – which is one handicap that makes the disease so hard to diagnose.

In the paper published in Molecular Neurobiology, the researchers reveal that our nervous system’s naturally protective response to the onset of Alzheimer’s may contribute to the fact that patients do not suffer memory loss until the disease has progressed further.

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