A nanoscale product of human cells that was once considered junk is now known to play an important role in intercellular communication and in many disease processes, including cancer metastasis. Researchers at Penn State have developed nanoprobes to rapidly isolate these rare markers, called extracellular vesicles (EVs), for potential development of precision cancer diagnoses and personalized anticancer treatments.
A wide range of biologically inspired materials may now be possible by combining protein studies, materials science and RNA sequencing, according to an international team of researchers.
Philip C. Bevilacqua, professor of chemistry at Penn State University, has been honored with the 2012 C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society. Instituted in 1972 and named in honor of Clarence I. Noll, dean of the college from 1965 to 1971, the award is the highest honor for undergraduate teaching in the college. Students, faculty members, and alumni nominate outstanding faculty members who best exemplify the key characteristics of a Penn State educator, and a committee of students and faculty members select among nominees.
A team of researchers from Penn State and the University of Chicago has uncovered clues that may explain how and why a particular virus, called N4, injects an unusual substance -- an RNA polymerase protein -- into an E. coli bacterial cell. The results, which are published in the current issue of the journal Molecular Cell, contribute to improved understanding of the infection strategies used by viruses that attack bacterial cells. Such viruses are known as bacteriophages, or phages. The results also may help other researchers to come up with new ideas about ways to kill E. coli bacteria, which can be dangerous to humans.
Sequencing DNA is not as overwhelming as it once was.
"The technology is really amazing," said Deb Grove of Penn State's Nucleic Acid Facility. "When I started here a few years ago the 'read length' for a DNA template was 300 to 400 nucleotides long. Today we can obtain read lengths of over 800 nucleotides, and can sequence templates up to 200k."
Once it was asked in whispers, or with winks. The timid among us, though undeniably curious, feared raised eyebrows. Jokes about little green men. Who could take such a question seriously, yank it from the misty realms of science fiction and drop it under the searchlight of science? Well, our national space agency, for one. What's more, NASA seems pretty confident these days about the answer: Astrobiology, as defined on an official agency Web site, is "the study of the living universe."