A large international consortium of researchers has produced the first comprehensive, detailed map of the way genes work across the major cells and tissues of the human body. The findings describe the complex networks that govern gene activity, and the new information could play a crucial role in identifying the genes involved with disease.
“Now, for the first time, we are able to pinpoint the regions of the genome that can be active in a disease and in normal activity, whether it’s in a brain cell, the skin, in blood stem cells or in hair follicles,” said Winston Hide, associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and one of the core authors of the main paper in Nature. “This is a major advance that will greatly increase our ability to understand the causes of disease across the body.”
The research is outlined in a series of papers published March 27, 2014, two in the journal Nature and 16 in other scholarly journals. The work is the result of years of concerted effort among 250 experts from more than 20 countries as part of FANTOM 5 (Functional Annotation of the Mammalian Genome). The FANTOM project, led by the Japanese institution RIKEN, is aimed at building a complete library of human genes.
Researchers studied human and mouse cells using a new technology called Cap Analysis of Gene Expression (CAGE), developed at RIKEN, to discover how 95% of all human genes are switched on and off. These “switches”—called “promoters” and “enhancers”—are the regions of DNA that manage gene activity. The researchers mapped the activity of 180,000 promoters and 44,000 enhancers across a wide range of human cell types and tissues and, in most cases, found they were linked with specific cell types.
“We now have the ability to narrow down the genes involved in particular diseases based on the tissue cell or organ in which they work,” said Hide. “This new atlas points us to the exact locations to look for the key genetic variants that might map to a disease.”
World’s first 3D acoustic cloaking device created - Metamaterials are already being used to create invisibility cloaks and “temporal cloaks,” but now engineers from Duke University have turned metamaterials to the task of creating a 3D acoustic cloak. In the same way that invisibility cloaks use metamaterials to reroute light around an object, the acoustic cloaking device interacts with sound waves to make it appear as if the device and anything hidden beneath it isn’t there. Steven Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and his colleagues at Duke University constructed their acoustic cloak using several sheets of plastic plates dotted with repeating patterns of holes. The plastic sheets, which were created using a 3D printer, were stacked on top of each other to form a device that resembles a pyramid in shape. The geometry of the sheets and the placement of the holes interact with sound waves to make it appear as if the device and anything sitting underneath it isn’t there. Despite its apparent simplicity, the device’s construction was far from a haphazard affair, with a lot of time and research going into calculating how sound waves would interact with it. As Cummer puts it, “we didn’t come up with this overnight.” (via World’s first 3D acoustic cloaking device created)
British startup company Lyonheart Cars, has just stepped into the arena of creating bespoken convertible coupes and convertibles that will have every auto enthusiast jumping in their seats. Recreating a lot of the similar designing ethics of the Jaguar E-type, these custom made vehicles borrow a lot from under the hood of the Jaguar model, but not without their unique touches and styling changes. A perfectly apt gift for a custom car collector, one has to wait for getting the cars delivered to them as Lyonheart is looking to make around 250 of these annually, at a $466,000 price tag for the coupe and $485,000 for the convertible model. The British car manufacturer’s re imagination of the classic Jaguar brings back the memories of the most expensive Jaguar E-type from 1963 that was restored with 7,000 hours of labor to return to its former glory.
A lost city reveals the grandeur of medieval African civilization
Some of the world’s greatest cities during the Middle Ages were on the eastern coast of Africa. Their ornate stone domes and soaring walls, made with ocean corals and painted a brilliant white, were wonders to the traders that visited them from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. They were the superpowers of the Swahili Coast, and they’ve long been misunderstood by archaeologists. It’s only recently that researchers outside Africa are beginning to appreciate their importance.
Throughout the Middle Ages, great civilizations ringed the Indian Ocean. From Egypt, people could travel the Red Sea to reach the ocean, then sail south to Africa, or continue east to the Arab world and India. Then, of course, one could travel over land on the famous Silk Road from India through central Asia and into China. In reality, few people ever made that journey. But many trade goods did, passed from hand to hand in cosmopolitan cities whose cultural diversity would have made places like New York and Sao Paolo look like monocultures.
Among those great medieval cities were places like Songo Mnara, a gorgeous and bustling Swahili city built on an island off the coast of Tanzania in the fourteenth century. At a time when European cities were getting wiped out by plagues and famines, Songo Mnara was thriving.
By coaxing light out of a single polymer molecule, researchers have made the world’s tiniest light-emitting diode.
This work is part of an interdisciplinary effort to make molecular scale electronic devices, which hold the potential for creating smaller but more powerful and energy-efficient computers. Guillaume Schull and his colleagues at the University of Strasbourg in France made the device with the conducting polymer polythiophene. They used a scanning tunneling microscope tip to locate and grab a single polythiophene molecule lying on a gold substrate. Then they pulled up the tip to suspend the molecule like a wire between the tip and the substrate.
The researchers report in the journalPhysical Review Letters that when they applied a voltage across the molecule, they were able to measure a nanoampere-scale current passing through it and to record light emitted from it.