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In the fight against the viruses that invade everyday life, seeing and understanding the battleground is essential. Scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research have, for the first time, imaged molecular structures vital to how a major class of viruses replicates within infected cells.
“The challenge is a bit like being a car mechanic and not being able to see the engine or how it’s put together in detail,” says Paul Ahlquist, director of virology at the Morgridge Institute and professor of oncology and molecular virology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “This work is our first look at the engine.”
The research, published June 27 in the journal eLife, uses pioneering cryo-electron tomography to reveal the complex viral replication process in vivid detail, opening up new avenues to potentially disrupt, dismantle or redirect viral machinery.
Karen Herzog , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
With 168 patents issued last year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison moved back into sixth place among 100 universities surveyed around the world last year, according to a news release from the school.
UW inched up from seventh place among the Top 100 Worldwide Universities for U.S. utility patents granted in 2016. It had been in sixth place a couple of years ago.
Guy Boulton , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1:51 p.m. CT May 30, 2017
For the past four years, successive teams of seniors at the Milwaukee School of Engineering have worked on a research project not short on ambition: developing a synthetic blood substitute that can transport oxygen in the body.
The project understandably may seem quixotic — or, at the least, maybe a little too ambitious. At least one multibillion-dollar corporation and several well-funded startups have failed in similar pursuits.
And the MSOE students are, after all, undergraduates, not post-docs with PhDs working at a large research university.
But each MSOE team — in some years, there have been more than one — working with Wujie Zhang, an assistant professor of biomolecular engineering, for their required senior project has overcome the next challenge of the ultimate quest.
The students also have learned the value of patience and persistence in research.
“That is not to say it didn’t come without a fight,” said Kellen O’Connell, one of the five students on this year’s team. “I definitely had my doubts along the way.”
The research project was the outgrowth of a serendipitous discovery by Zhang and Jung Lee, also an assistant professor at the school, while working on a way to encapsulate a drug for colon cancer in natural polymers derived from crab shells and orange peels.
They discovered that the substance took the biconcave shape — having a surface that curves inward on the top and bottom — of red blood cells.
By Silke Schmid
For a soldier who suffered a spinal cord injury on the battlefield, the promise of regenerative medicine is to fully repair the resulting limb paralysis. But that hope is still years from reality.
“When regenerative medicine started, its stated goal was to replace damaged body parts and restore their function,” says Randolph Ashton, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of biomedical engineering. “But one of its less-anticipated applications is the ability to create human tissues and watch diseases occur in a dish, which is extremely powerful for developing new therapies.”
Not only powerful, but efficient. Studying diseases in lab-created tissue may help reduce the price tag — now roughly $1.8 billion — for bringing a new drug to market, which is one of the reasons Ashton received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for advancing tissue engineering of the human spinal cord. During the project’s five-year funding period, his lab in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery will fine-tune the technology for growing a neural tube, the developmental predecessor of the spinal cord, from scratch.
Students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering say they are working on a possible solution to blood shortages that we have seen in Milwaukee County lately.
The school is calling this discovery groundbreaking and they believe it could potentially change the blood industry in the future.
Students in the bio-molecular engineering program here at MSOE have been working on creating red blood cells for the past several years.