Simply shining light on ‘dinosaur metal’ compound kills cancer cells

Simply shining light on ‘dinosaur metal’ compound kills cancer cells

A new compound based on Iridium, a rare metal which landed in the Gulf of Mexico 66 M years ago, hooked onto albumin, a protein in blood, can attack the nucleus of cancerous cells when switched on by light, University of Warwick researchers have found.

The treatment of cancer using light, called Photodynamic therapy, is based on chemical compounds called photosensitizers, which can be switched on by light to produce oxidising species, able to kill cancer cells. Clinicians can activate these compounds selectively where the tumour is (using optical fibres) thus killing cancer cells and leaving healthy cells intact.

Thanks to the special chemical coating they used, the Warwick group was able to hook up Iridium to the blood protein Albumin, which then glowed very brightly so they could track its passage into cancer cells, where it converted the cells’ own oxygen to a lethal form which killed them.

Not only is the newly formed molecule an excellent photosensitiser, but Albumin is able to deliver it into the nucleus inside cancer cells. The dormant compound can then be switched on by light irradiation and destroy the cancer cells from their very centre.

The bright luminescence of the iridium photosensitiser allowed its accumulation in the nucleus of tumour cells and its activation leading to the cancer cell death to be followed in real time using a microscope.

Professor Peter Sadler, from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick comments:

“It is amazing that this large protein can penetrate into cancer cells and deliver iridium which can kill them selectively on activation with visible light. If this technology can be translated into the clinic, it might be effective against resistant cancers and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy”

Dr Cinzia Imberti, from the University of Warwick comments:

“It is fascinating how albumin can deliver our photosensitiser so specifically to the nucleus. We are at a very early stage, but we are looking forward to see where the preclinical development of this new compound can lead.”

“Our team is not only extremely multidisciplinary, including biologists, chemists and pharmacists, but also highly international, including young researchers from China, India and Italy supported by Royal Society Newton and Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowships.”

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Train the brain to form good habits through repetition

Train the brain to form good habits through repetition

You can hack your brain to form good habits — like going to the gym and eating healthily — simply by repeating actions until they stick, according to new psychological research involving the University of Warwick.

Dr Elliot Ludvig from Warwick’s Department of Psychology, with colleagues at Princeton and Brown Universities, have created a model which shows that forming good (and bad) habits depends more on how often you perform an action than on how much satisfaction you get from it.

The new study is published in Psychological Review.

The researchers developed a computer simulation, in which digital rodents were given a choice of two levers, one of which was associated with the chance of getting a reward. The lever with the reward was the ‘correct’ one, and the lever without was the ‘wrong’ one.

The chance of getting a reward was swapped between the two levers, and the simulated rodents were trained to choose the ‘correct’ one.

When the digital rodents were trained for a short time, they managed to choose the new, ‘correct’ lever when the chance of reward was swapped. However, when they were trained extensively on one lever, the digital rats stuck to the ‘wrong’ lever stubbornly, even when it no longer had the chance for reward.

The rodents preferred to stick to the repeated action that they were used to, rather than have the chance for a reward.

Dr Elliot Ludvig, Associate Professor in the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology and one of the paper’s authors, commented:

“Much of what we do is driven by habits, yet how habits are learned and formed is still somewhat mysterious. Our work sheds new light on this question by building a mathematical model of how simple repetition can lead to the types of habits we see in people and other creatures. “

Dr Amitai Shenhav, Assistant Professor in Brown University’s Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences and one of the paper’s authors, commented:

“Psychologists have been trying to understand what drives our habits for over a century, and one of the recurring questions is how much habits are a product of what we want versus what we do. Our model helps to answer that by suggesting that habits themselves are a product of our previous actions, but in certain situations those habits can be supplanted by our desire to get the best outcome.”

This research opens up a better understanding of conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tic Disorder — both of which are characterised by repeated behaviours.

The next stage will be to conduct similar experiments in a real-world scenario, observing human behaviour in action-based versus reward-based tests.

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Share your latest Netflix binge on Instagram Stories

Share your latest Netflix binge on Instagram Stories


ASSOCIATED PRESS

We’ve all had that moment when we’ve just watched a great show or movie and simply have to tell everyone about it. If you’re eager to show your friends why Marie Kondo has changed your life or urge them to check out a documentary about the disastrous Fyre Festival, you’ll be pleased to know you can share Netflix titles directly to your Instagram Stories.

Once you share a show or movie, a related image from it will appear in your story, which links back to the respective page on Netflix. The feature is available through Netflix’s iPhone app starting today, though there’s no word as yet when it will arrive on Android. Netflix joins the likes of Spotify, Soundcloud and Shazam as third-party apps from which you can share directly to your story.

Netflix sharing on Instagram Stories

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Going viral: New cells for norovirus production in the lab

Going viral: New cells for norovirus production in the lab

An Osaka University-led research team has developed a system for simply and efficiently producing human norovirus. By coaxing human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to develop into a type of cell that usually lines the intestine, they created a cellular environment that can be used for producing the virus, studying how it interacts with human cells, and investigating potential vaccines.

Human norovirus is a major cause of intestinal infectious gastroenteritis, which can lead to illness and can even be fatal, particularly in children and in elderly people. No effective preventive vaccine or therapy is currently available, and studies of norovirus are severely limited because the virus cannot be easily grown in a laboratory setting. Many researchers have attempted to provide simplified methods for growing norovirus; none has succeeded, until now.

Prior to this study, published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, human norovirus could be grown in the laboratory but required human intestinal tissue (to provide cells for the virus to infect and grow) and bile (to provide sufficient nutrition and growth factors to those intestinal cells to allow viral growth). The main limitation of this design is that these human products are obtained through surgical methods, such as biopsy, so they are only available in limited quantities.

“Our new method uses intestinal epithelial cells (or ‘IECs’) produced from human iPSCs, which are theoretically available in nearly unlimited quantities,” says lead author Shintaro Sato. “Even more importantly, these new IECs do not require the use of bile to produce large quantities of human norovirus.”

Although bile helped viral growth, it was not necessary in order for many genotypes of norovirus to grow in these new IECs, which is a particularly important benefit of this system compared with cells that have been used in the past.

“Using these new IECs raises fewer ethical concerns than using systems that require conventional intestinal tissue,” says Sato. “As a result, we expect that this method will be useful for industrial applications, such as evaluating vaccine candidates and assessing immune responses in clinical trials.”

As a preliminary example of such an application, the researchers used the new system to identify that a lesser-known type of norovirus, GII.17, might be better than the predominant type of norovirus, GII.4, as the basis for a vaccine because it is effective against both GII.17 and GII.4 noroviruses. This finding, along with the new cellular system for producing norovirus, may help provide new and more effective vaccines against the virus, much more rapidly.

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Tim Cook calls removing Alex Jones simply ‘curation’

Tim Cook calls removing Alex Jones simply ‘curation’

In an interview with Vice News that aired tonight on HBO, Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly explained some of the reasoning behind removing Alex Jones and InfoWars from the company’s podcast app and App Store. According to Cook, the move wasn’t politically…

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‘Pokémon’ developer is releasing a Switch RPG called ‘Town’

‘Pokémon’ developer is releasing a Switch RPG called ‘Town’

Game Freak, the Japanese video game developer behind Pokémon, is working on a turn-based RPG simply called Town. Thankfully, that’s only a working title for the new IP, so they might still come up with something more memorable. Nintendo has an…

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How fitness- and health-tracking apps failed me during my pregnancy

How fitness- and health-tracking apps failed me during my pregnancy

I’m not a super fit person. I am considered a healthy weight, and I exercise simply because I enjoy eating and drinking whatever I want. For my type A personality, fitness and health tracking has been an incredible motivator. Being able to close all…

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Dell gives its Inspiron 2-in-1 laptops a meaningful refresh

Dell gives its Inspiron 2-in-1 laptops a meaningful refresh

Dell is refreshing its Inspiron line of notebooks for the holiday season, and instead of simply updating them with the latest eighth-generation Intel processors, the company is actually adding functional features. The new Inspirons come with narrower…

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Galaxy Note 9 water cooling tested: Does it really work?

Galaxy Note 9 water cooling tested: Does it really work?

Flagship phones in 2018 can easily handle graphically demanding games, but many of them run hot or simply can’t sustain their performance after several minutes of play.

The Galaxy Note 9 has a feature designed to keep this flagship cool while delive…

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Kindle for Android gets split-screen now, Notification Center soon

Kindle for Android gets split-screen now, Notification Center soon,

Despite having an app simply ripe for multitasking as users pull up extra info related to the books they’re reading, Amazon’s Kindle app is just now delivering support for Android’s split-screen viewing feature. It added support for split view on the…

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A social tool for evaluating the environmental impact of residential buildings

A social tool for evaluating the environmental impact of residential buildings,

for the first time, an open-source computing tool can, simply and intuitively, calculate the CO2 emissions in each phase of a building project, in order to obtain a global picture of its carbon footprint from its conception and to help decide every variable in the construction process.

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Roku’s wireless speakers are just for its TVs

Roku’s wireless speakers are just for its TVs

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TV speakers stink. As our televisions have gotten ever thinner, there simply isn’t any room to stuff in speakers that actually sound good. Roku today unveiled a simple solution for that problem: A pair of wireless speakers, designed to work exclusive…

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Google Earth can measure the distance between your house and the Louvre

Google Earth can measure the distance between your house and the Louvre,

Not content to simply measure kitchen tables using augmented reality anymore, Google is thinking bigger. A lot bigger. The latest update to Google Earth is the ability to measure the distance between two points on the globe. In a blog post, the searc…

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