polymers

More than 25% of the people on the national US waiting list for a heart will die before receiving one. Despite this discouraging figure, heart transplants are still on the rise. There just hasn’t been an alternative. Until now. The “cyborg heart patch,” a new engineering innovation from Tel Aviv University, may single-handedly change the… Read more

For decades, researchers have tried to duplicate the function of beta cells, the tiny insulin-producing entities that don’t work properly in patients with diabetes. Insulin injections are an option, but are a painful and often imperfect substitutes. And transplants of normal beta cells carry the risk of rejection or side effects from immuno-suppressive therapies. Now… Read more

A totally new type of polymer is designed to lift weights, contracting and expanding the way muscles do. It has the potential to do lots of other stuff, too— like deliver drugs or even repair itself. The new capabilities are the result of both rigid and soft compartments with extremely different properties that are organized… Read more

The enzyme cellobiohydrolase I, also known as TrCel7a (pronounced tee-are-cell-seven-a) is basically a microscopic wood chipper. It’s a special enzyme, called a cellulase, that breaks down cellulose— the most plentiful natural polymer on the planet— into simple sugars. It works very slowly but, like a truck operating at a very low gear, it is extremely… Read more

Twenty years ago, scientists discovered that short strands of RNA known as microRNA help cells to fine-tune their gene expression. Disruption or loss of some microRNAs has been linked to cancer, raising the possibility of treating tumors by adjusting microRNA levels. Developing such treatments requires delivering microRNA to tumors, which has proven difficult. However, researchers… Read more