Bacterial Behavior Discovered
contact between Escherichia coli bacteria can trigger genes that
halt the growth of one of the bacterium, a finding that is as exciting
as it is surprising, according to scientists working under UCSB
molecular biologist David Low.
“If bacteria can do this, then maybe we can (learn)
to do it,” Low said. He suggested that the discovery by doctoral
student Stephanie Aoki might open a door to managing chronic diseases,
like urinary tract infections. “This has potential implications
for new antibiotics.”
Aoki and her colleagues discovered what they call
“contact-dependent inhibition of growth” while researching other
aspects of E. coli. They worked for two years before identifying
the two genes required for this behavior.
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A Way to Deliver Micro-Drugs?
The high-precision “smart” bomb may someday have
a microscopic counterpart in the “smart bio-nanotube” developed
in the UCSB laboratories of materials scientist Cyrus Safinya
and biochemist Leslie Wilson. By manipulating electrical charges
on lipid membranes the lab teams found a way to self-assemble
tiny capsules with ends that open or close on command.
“With either open ends or closed ends, these
nanotubes could form the basis for controlled chemical and drug
encapsulation and release,” said Safinya.