Archive for the ‘chemistry’ category

Oct 2, 2023

Total Triterpenes of Wolfiporia cocos (Schwein.) Ryvarden & Gilb Exerts Antidepressant-Like Effects in a Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress Rat Model and Regulates the Levels of Neurotransmitters, HPA Axis and NLRP3 Pathway

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, neuroscience

Purpose: Wolfiporia cocos is frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat depression. However, antidepressant-like effects of the main active ingredients of Wolfiporia cocos, total triterpenes of Wolfiporia cocos (TTWC), are not well studied. This study aimed to investigate those effects and explore their specific mechanisms of action in depth. Methods: Chemical components of TTWC were analyzed using LC-MS. Depression-like behavior in rats were induced by chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS). The suppressive effects of TTWC (60120240 mg/kg) against CUMS-induced depression-like behavior were evaluated using the forced swimming test (FST), open field test (OFT) and sucrose preference test (SPT). Levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), glutamate (GLU), corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta), interleukin-18 (IL-18), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in different groups were determined by ELISA. Western blotting (WB) was used to detect the expression of NLRP3, ASC, pro-caspase-1, caspase-1, pro-IL-1beta, IL-1beta, pro-IL-18, and IL-18 in the prefrontal cortex. Additionally, the mRNA levels of NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1, IL-1beta and IL-18 were detected by RT-PCR. Results: A total of 69 lanostane-type triterpene acids of TTWC were identified. The results showed that TTWC exhibited an antidepressant-like effect in CUMS rats, reversed the decreased sugar preference in the SPT, reduction of immobility time in the FST, reduced the rest time, increased the total moving distance in the OFT. TTWC increased 5-HT levels and decreased GLU levels in the hippocampus. Moreover, TTWC decreased CRH levels in serum, indicating the regulation of over-activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In addition, reduced serum levels of IL-1beta, IL-18, IL-6, and TNF-alpha. The WB results implied that TTWC inhibited the expression of NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1, IL-1beta, and IL-18 in the prefrontal cortex and enhanced the expression of pro-caspase-1, pro-IL-1beta, and pro-IL-18. Although most of the results were not significant, PCR results showed that TTWC inhibited the expression of NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1, IL-1beta, and IL-18 in the prefrontal cortex. Conclusion: TTWC treatment exerted an antidepressant-like effect and regulates neurotransmitters, HPA axis and NLRP3 signaling pathway. These results indicated the potential of TTWC in preventing the development of depression.

Keywords: NLRP3 pathway; Wolfiporia cocos (schwein.) ryvarden & gilb; chronic unpredictable mild stress; depression; hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis; neurotransmitter; triterpenes.

Copyright © 2022 Pan, Chen, Han, Luo, Zhang, Zhang, Zhang, Zhou, Li, Fang, Wang and Ye.

Sep 30, 2023

Striking rare gold: Researchers unveil new material infused with gold in an exotic chemical state

Posted by in categories: chemistry, particle physics, solar power, sustainability

For the first time, Stanford researchers have found a way to create and stabilize an extremely rare form of gold that has lost two negatively charged electrons, denoted Au2+. The material stabilizing this elusive version of the valued element is a halide perovskite—a class of crystalline materials that holds great promise for various applications including more-efficient solar cells, light sources, and electronics components.

Surprisingly, the Au2+ is also quick and simple to make using off-the-shelf ingredients at .

“It was a real surprise that we were able to synthesize a stable material containing Au2+ —I didn’t even believe it at first,” said Hemamala Karunadasa, associate professor of chemistry at the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences and senior author of the study published Aug. 28 in Nature Chemistry. “Creating this first-of-its-kind Au2+ perovskite is exciting. The in the perovskite bear strong similarities to the copper atoms in high-temperature superconductors, and heavy atoms with unpaired electrons, like Au2+, show cool magnetic effects not seen in lighter atoms.”

Sep 30, 2023

Small Strands of Genetic Code Can Enhance Immunotherapy

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, evolution, genetics

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a molecule which is present in cells and made of genetic material to help build proteins necessary for cell function. RNA provides a template for the construction of proteins and is essential for cell and organism life. Immune cells rely on these proteins, including CD8+ or cytotoxic T cells which are responsible for killing invading pathogens. Importantly, cytotoxic T cells are a major component of the memory immune response. A pool of T cells specifically designed to recognize an invader is stored for future invasion of that particular pathogen. For example, once these cells are exposed to an invading antigen or protein, the immune system will expand T cells specific to that antigen and remember the antigen next time it enters the body. Vaccines work in a similar way by introducing a foreign antigen to the body, so the immune system is ready if the pathogen ever enters your body in the future. Only a small set of T cells that expand survive and it is unclear how this process occurs.

Recently a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) demonstrated that a single strand of RNA governs a T cells ability to recognize and kill tumors. The single strand of RNA is known as let-7 and is a microRNA, which is responsible for gene expression regulation. The recent discovery may improve vaccine development and cellular memory to enhance immunotherapy against cancers. Immunotherapy is a general term referring to cancer therapies that try to activate the immune system to kill the tumor compared to other drugs that try to directly kill the tumor with chemicals, such as chemotherapy.

The report published in Nature Communications identified that the microRNA, let-7, may enhance memory of T cells. Researchers led by Dr. Leonid Pobezinsky, Associate Professor of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at UMass, further built on our understanding of how T cells form immune memory. Pobezinsky and colleagues found that a small piece of microRNA that has been present throughout evolution is expressed in memory cells. Additionally, they found that more let-7 a cell has, the more likely that cell will recognize a cancer cell and kill it. The increased let-7 also indicates that the cell will turn into a memory cell after being exposed to an antigen. The regulation of enhanced memory T cells by let-7 is an integral process key to fight infections. This is a critical finding, especially because memory cells retain stem-like characteristics and can survive for decades.

Sep 29, 2023

Milestone for novel atomic clock: X-ray laser shows possible route to substantially increased precision time measurement

Posted by in categories: chemistry, particle physics

An international research team has taken a decisive step toward a new generation of atomic clocks. At the European XFEL X-ray laser, the researchers have created a much more precise pulse generator based on the element scandium, which enables an accuracy of one second in 300 billion years—that is about a thousand times more precise than the current standard atomic clock based on cesium. The team presents its success in the journal Nature.

Atomic clocks are currently the world’s most accurate timekeepers. These clocks have used electrons in the atomic shell of chemical elements, such as cesium, as a pulse generator in order to define the time. These electrons can be raised to a higher energy level with microwaves of a known frequency. In the process, they absorb the .

An atomic clock shines microwaves at cesium atoms and regulates the frequency of the radiation such that the absorption of the microwaves is maximized; experts call this a resonance. The quartz oscillator that generates the microwaves can be kept so stable with the help of resonance that cesium clocks will be accurate to within one second within 300 million years.

Sep 29, 2023

Researchers find switches that control dopamine in brain

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, neuroscience

Researchers have identified two ion channel switches that regulate the release of dopamine in the brain, a first step that might one day lead to therapeutics for a wide range of diseases and disorders that currently have few solutions.

The switches help regulate learning and motivational state in mice. Humans also have hundreds of these channels, which govern many chemical and hormonal processes that influence behavior and mood. The University of Washington School of Medicine research team hopes to identify drugs to target these channels. Those drug candidates could then be tested in clinical trials.

“The ability to precisely manipulate how dopamine-producing neurons of the brain regulate different behaviors is a major step toward developing better therapies for a range of mental illnesses,” said Larry Zweifel, professor of psychiatry & behavioral sciences at the UW School of Medicine.

Sep 29, 2023

New scooter battery can charge in 5 minutes. Can it transform electric cars?

Posted by in categories: chemistry, computing, mobile phones, nanotechnology, sustainability, transportation

Most of today’s EVs use lithium-ion batteries, the same kind you’ll find in your smartphone or laptop. These batteries all have two electrodes (one positive and one negative), and the negative one is usually made of graphite.

While the battery is being charged, the lithium ions flow from the side of the battery with the positive electrode to the side with the negative electrode. If the charging happens too fast, the flow can be disrupted, causing the battery to short circuit.

StoreDot’s EV battery replaces the graphite electrode with one made from nanoparticles based on the chemical element germanium — this allows the ions to flow more smoothly and quickly, enabling a faster charge.

Sep 28, 2023

De novo design of protein structure and function with RFdiffusion

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, robotics/AI

An extremely important landmark paper by Watson et al. from David Baker’s group. They developed RFdiffusion, a generative AI for protein engineering. With this tool, scientists can generate new protein designs. The software can generate novel monomers, multimers, and symmetric protein cages. It can generate proteins that bind to desired targets as well as enzymes that position active sites at a desired location on the structure. I would say that this technology has the potential to dramatically alter how biology and biotechnology is done. I’ve been waiting for something like this since middle school! So exciting to see protein engineering reaching this point!! #computationalbiology #proteinengineering #syntheticbiology #biotechnology #biochemistry #ai #generativeai

Fine-tuning the RoseTTAFold structure prediction network on protein structure denoising tasks yields a generative model for protein design that achieves outstanding performance on a wide range of protein structure and function design challenges.

Sep 28, 2023

The Giant Magellan Telescope’s final mirror fabrication begins

Posted by in categories: chemistry, cosmology

The Giant Magellan Telescope begins the four-year process to fabricate and polish its seventh and final primary mirror, the last required to complete the telescope’s 368 square meter light collecting surface, the world’s largest and most challenging optics ever produced. Together, the mirrors will collect more light than any other telescope in existence, allowing humanity to unlock the secrets of the universe by providing detailed chemical analyses of celestial objects and their origin.

Last week, the University of Arizona Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab closed the lid on nearly 20 tons of the purest optical glass inside a one-of-a-kind oven housed beneath the stands of the Arizona Wildcats Football Stadium. The spinning oven will heat the glass to 1,165°C so as it melts, it is forced outward to form the mirror’s curved paraboloid surface. Measuring 8.4-meters in diameter—about two stories tall when standing on edge—the mirror will cool over the next three months before moving into the polishing stage.

At 50 million times more powerful than the human eye, “the will make history through its future discoveries,” shares Buell Jannuzi, Principal Investigator for the fabrication of the Giant Magellan Telescope primary mirror segments, Director of Steward Observatory, and Head of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. “We are thrilled to be closing in on another milestone in the fabrication of the Giant Magellan Telescope.”

Sep 28, 2023

Alien life may not be carbon-based, new study suggests

Posted by in categories: alien life, chemistry

Self-sustaining chemical reactions that could support biology radically different from life as we know it might exist on many different planets using a variety of elements beyond the carbon upon which Earth’s life is based, a new study finds.

On Earth, life is based on organic compounds. These molecules are composed of carbon and often include other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.

Sep 28, 2023

Scientists develop 3D-printed epifluidic electronic skin

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, health, robotics/AI, wearables

In a recent study published in Science Advances, researchers from the California Institute of Technology, led by Dr. Wei Gao, have developed a machine learning (ML)–powered 3D-printed epifluidic electronic skin for multimodal health surveillance. This wearable platform enables real-time physical and chemical monitoring of health status.

Wearable health devices have the potential to revolutionize the medical world, offering tracking, personalized treatments, and early diagnosis of diseases.

However, one of the main challenges with these devices is that they don’t track data at the molecular level, and their fabrication is challenging. Dr. Gao explained why this served as a motivation for their team.

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