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CRISPR Enzyme Programmed to Kill Viruses in Human Cells

October 11, 2019

Pardis Sabeti and researchers at the Broad Institute have turned a CRISPR RNA-cutting enzyme into an antiviral that can be programmed to detect and destroy RNA-based viruses in human cells. Many of the world's most common or deadly pathogens are RNA-based viruses. The study in Molecular Cell is the first to harness CAS 13 enzyme, or any CRISPR system, as an antiviral in cultured human cells....

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Images courtesy of Harvard SEAS & Lori K. Sanders

Shape-shifting Structures Take The Form of A face, Antenna

October 7, 2019

Prof. L Mahadevan and researchers with the Harvard Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering have created the most complex shape-shifting structures to date -- lattices composed of multiple materials that grow or shrink in response to changes in temperature. The team printed flat lattices that shape morph into a frequency-shifting antenna or the face of pioneering mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss in response to a change in temperature. The study is published in the...

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George Lauder with Tunabot. Photo by Jon Chase, The Harvard Gazette

Tunabot: The First Robotic Tuna to Mimic Tuna's Swimming Style

September 18, 2019

Tuna are highly efficient swimmers, migrating thousands of miles across the Pacific from California to Japan. They are also among the fastest fish in the water reaching speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour. George Lauder has been trying to understand how they are capable of both by developing robots to model tuna's flexible underwater gait.

Working with a team of researchers from the University of Virginia, Lauder developed Tunabot, the first robotic tuna that accurately mimics both their highly efficient swimming style and high speed. Tunabot is described in a...

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8-cell embryo, three days after fertilization (WikiCommons)

How Early-Stage Embryos Maintain Their Size

September 2, 2019

Prof. L. Mahadevan collaborated with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) to discover what controls the size of an embryo. The study published in Nature found that embryos maintain an average size in early development through simple hydraulic pressure. During early stages of embryonic development, a fluid-filled cavity grows and expands. Using mouse embryos, researchers observed that the cavity repeated the process...

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Roopkund Lake-Figure 1. Photo by Atish Waghwase

Ancient DNA Reveals Mediterranean Migrants in India

August 20, 2019

Roopkund Lake is a small body of water nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains. The Lake is known colloquially as Skeleton Lake due to the remains of several hundred ancient human scattered around its shores. The skeletons have never been studied so little was known of the origins. 

Graduate student, Eadaoin Harney (Wakeley Lab) and researchers analyzed the remains using bioarcheological analyses (including ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating, stable isotope dietary reconstruction and osteological analysis) and discovered three genetically distinct groups...

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Illustration of protein aggregation

Using Math to Help Treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other Diseases

August 15, 2019

L. Mahadevan's latest study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers insight into treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases in which protein aggregation (misfolded proteins clump together) is implicated. While the role of protein aggregation is not fully understood, many current treatments target the aggregation process. However, finding the right treatment protocols for these drugs is challenging....

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