Research Roundup (Winter ’15, Week 4)

Every week our Research Editors highlight a few of the latest headlines in science news and explain why these pieces are interesting and applicable to our classes at UC San Diego. If you find an engaging science article, share it with us on our Facebook page and your highlight may just be featured!

Chemists find a way to Unboil egg whites: Ability to quickly restore molecular proteins could slash biotechnology costs | Science Daily

Chemists have discovered a way to unboil egg whites β€” a method that could be used to quickly and cheaply produce proteins for use in the biotechnology field. Proteins often fold into incorrect shapes, making them useless. This technique pulls apart tangled proteins and refolds them into their original conformations. This discovery has the potential to greatly reduce costs of cancer treatments, research, and protein production.

If you are interested in biochemistry, consider taking Metabolic Biochemistry (BIBC 102).

— Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Detecting chemical weapons quickly with a color-changing film | Science Daily

Scientists have developed a method to quickly and reliably detect chemical warfare agents (CWAs). Their invention, a thin-film material, rapidly changes color in the presence of CWAs. This method could be used to help detect threats of terrorism and quickly apprehend aggressors.

If you are interested in bioengineering, consider taking Introduction to Bioengineering (BENG 1).

— Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Eyeglasses that turn into sunglasses — at your command | Science Daily

Currently, even the most advanced form of Transitions lenses for prescription eyewear takes several minutes to change from clear to dark depending on environmental conditions. This is about to change, as researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have designed a new kind of lens that can switch within seconds from clear to shaded, and vice versa, in response to a small electrical charge that the wearer can control. The user can also fine-tune the color of the lenses to match the full range of hues commonly found in commercial sunglasses.

If you are interested in human functions, consider taking Multicellular Life (BILD 2).

— Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor

Cell mechanism discovered that may cause pancreatic cancer | Science Daily

Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered that defects in extrusion, the process of how cells are squeezed out of overcrowded tissue to die, could be a mechanism that instigates pancreatic cancer. From these findings, they have identified a potential way to reverse the effects of defective extrusion without destroying normal tissues nearby, through the use of Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) inhibitors. Normally, extruded cells ultimately die because survival signaling, which depends on the FAK signal, is lost. The team tested whether defective extrusion could be bypassed by using FAK inhibitors and found that adding FAK inhibitors returned cell death rates to normal levels and eliminated large cell masses.

If you are interested in cancer, consider taking Biology of Cancer (BIMM 134).

— Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor