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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Molecular mechanisms that regulate the migration of Cajal-Retzius cells during brain development shown for the first time

Researchers from IBEC and the University de Barcelona (UB), in collaboration with the Institute of Marseille Luminy, University of the Mediterranean in France and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, USA, have identified for the first time a new molecular mechanism regulating the migration of Cajal-Retzius cells in the early stages of development of the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the brain.

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Researchers uncover a fundamental mechanism in breast cancer

A study by IBEC researchers reveals in Nature Materials how mammary cells detect tissue stiffening, which is key to the development of breast cancer

Achieving control of tissue stiffness could open a new avenue to treat tumours like those in the breast

Abnormally rigid tissues are also found in several other types of cancer, so the newly revealed mechanism could be a key aspect behind the onset of various diseases

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Sounds of health

A new acoustic method for better diagnosis in patients with diaphragmatic paralysis

A PLOS ONE article by researchers from the joint unit IBEC, the Fundació Institut Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP) and the Pneumology Service at Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital describes the acoustic analysis of pulmonary sound intensity as a non-invasive, more objective, easier and cheaper method to improve diagnostics in unilateral diaphragmatic paralysis.

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Helping the brain rebuild itself

A new strategy in regenerative medicine could promote recovery from damage

Tissue regeneration researchers at IBEC, UB and the UPC have developed an implant that could aid the regeneration of brain tissue, particularly in cases of pre- and postnatal injury.

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