Researchers perform thousands of mutations to understand amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Researchers from IBEC and CRG in Barcelona use a technique called high-throughput mutagenesis to study Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), with unexpected results.

Results showed that aggregation of TDP-43 is not harmful but actually protects cells, changing our understanding of ALS and opening the door to radically new therapeutic approaches.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating and incurable nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control and normally death within a few years of diagnosis. In ALS, like in other neurodegenerative diseases, specific protein aggregates have long been recognized as the pathological hallmarks, but it is not clear whether they represent the actual cause of the disease. Indeed, alleviating aggregation has repeatedly failed as a therapeutic strategy when trying to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

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Olive oil offers two powerful weapons in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Researchers from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia and the University of Granada have created two potent antimicrobials from oleanolic acid and maslinic acid, both of which are found in olive oil

The study, published in the journal ACS Infectious Diseases, has demonstrated the effect of these derivatives on the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, one of the main causes of infections in catheters and prostheses.
Liquid gold. This is how all Mediterranean cultures have referred to olive oil throughout history. Its captivating flavour, its texture and its role in gastronomy have been some of the qualities that have contributed to this. But olive oil is also a great ally when it comes to health: from antiinflammatory properties to benefits for the cardiovascular system, and even recently discovered antitumor effects. Now, scientists from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the University of Granada (UGR) have contributed new insights that increase the already well-known antimicrobial properties of olive oil.
To do this, they have synthesised two derivatives with enormous antimicrobial potential from two compounds present in olive oil—oleanolic acid and maslinic acid.

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Researchers at IBEC develop a bioengineering platform to detect pro-inflammatory molecules in muscular disorders

The Biosensors for bioengineering group led by Javier Ramón has developed a sensing platform for the in-situ detection of tissue-secreted pro-inflammatory molecules, the so-called cytokines. This new methodology opens a new door in the understanding of metabolic-disorders such those found in muscular diseases, as well as the development of drug-screening applications.

Although 40% of total body mass is skeletal muscle tissue, there is no specialized clinical doctor for the treatment of muscular diseases, according to the American Medical Association. The research group of Dr. Javier Ramón at IBEC works to fill this gap between muscle disorders and ad hoc therapies.

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Nanovectors Could Improve the Combined Administration of Antimalarial Drugs

Nanovector_IBEC

Nanovector_IBECAccording to the study, the strategy has the added advantage of targeting the transmissible phase of the parasite- the gametocyte. Encapsulating two drugs with different properties into nanovesicles surrounded by antibodies can greatly improve their delivery and efficacy, according to a study led by Xavier Fernández Busquets, director of the joint Nanomalaria unit at the Institute for Bionengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by ”la Caixa”.

Combining two drugs that act through different mechanisms is one of the most efficient approaches currently used to treat malaria. However, differences in the drugs’ physichochemical properties (solubility, half-life, etc.) often affect treatment efficacy.

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A nanodrone able to detect toxic gases in emergencies

Researchers of the Signal and information processing for sensing systems research group at IBEC, led by Santiago Marco, have designed a nanodrone that could identify toxic gases in buildings that collapsed due the effects of earthquakes or explosions. The new gadget, which weights thirty-five grams, could be useful to detect the presence of victims in closed spaces which are hard to enter.

Detecting dangerous gases in collapsed buildings due earthquakes or explosions and identifying the presence of victims in places which are hard to access are some action scenarios of SNAV (Smelling Nano Aerial Vehicle), a nanodrone designed and created by the researchers Santiago Marco and Javier Burgués, from the Faculty of Physics of the University of Barcelona and the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC).

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A research team develops a Mini-Factory of Human Cardiac Tissue

A system developed by researchers from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the Centre of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMR[B]) is capable of producing tissues in a laboratory that simulate the behaviour of the human heart. The tissues produced by this bioengineering system could be used to pre-evaluate the toxicity of drugs in the heart without using animal models.

Cardiovascular diseases are currently one of the leading causes of death worldwide. However, the factors that motivate or accentuate such heart diseases sometimes hide behind relatively unknown elements. Among other causes, drugs that are useful for curing or alleviating certain diseases can, at the same time, have side effects on other organs such as the heart, which experts refer to as cardiotoxicity.

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A mechanism has been discovered that could improve spinal cord injuries

A study led by researchers from IBEC and Imperial College London has identified a mechanism that regulates the regenerative failure in lesions of the central nervous system. For the first time, experts have also proven how the genetic or pharmacological inhibition of the new therapeutic target could overcome regeneration failure following spinal cord injury

Will I recover from this injury? Answering this question that many patients ask themselves after a fall or any other type of accident or disease is still a major challenge. And the fact is that the molecular mechanisms that discriminate between regeneration success or failure remain a mystery to science. Although lesions of the peripheral nervous system may be partially reversible, lesions of the central nervous system cannot regenerate themselves in the same way. This lack of regenerative capacity is mainly responsible for the functional deficits that appear after a spinal cord injury, for example.

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Discovered the determining factors for the propulsion of microrobots

A study led by researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) opens the door to moving new microscopic objects using an entire library of enzymes According to experts, these microrobots will be able to be used in the near future for environmental and biomedical purposes.

Swallowing a pill to cure a serious disease or adding a pinch of a synthetic powder to purify water seemed like concepts from science fiction up to only a few generations ago. However, the appearance of new disciplines, such as bioengineering, is raising the level of sophistication and specialisation of new materials to unforeseen limits.

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Closer to a functional atlas of the brain

Scientists from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia develop a technique that enables them to work out the specific function of a neuronal receptor according to its location in the brain. The study, published in PNAS, is based on the activation of photoswitchable drugs with micrometric precision and offers new opportunities in neurobiology.

Schizophrenia, depression, myasthenia… Many neurological diseases are due to the malfunctioning of a neuronal receptor. These proteins, also known as neuroreceptors, are responsible for sending and detecting neurotransmitters, chemical substances that allow communication between neurons.

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Binucleated cells could be the key in heart regeneration

A research team led by the IBEC, in collaboration with the CMR [B], discovers a mechanism that generates binucleated cells.This mechanism has been identified during the regeneration of the heart of the zebrafish, and could be associated with the extraordinary regenerative power of this animal.

After an acute heart lesion, such as a myocardial infarction, the human heart is unable to regenerate. The adult cardiac cells cannot grow and divide to replace the damaged ones, and the lesion becomes irreversible. But this does not happen in all animals. A freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia, known as a zebrafish, can completely regenerate its heart even after 20% ventricular amputation.

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