Yesterday the police were on high alert, cracking down harder than ever on the sale, possession and use of illegal fireworks. But every day, several Americans light up something far more lethal. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and remains so dangerous largely due the addictive properties of nicotine. In an effort to curb that dependency, researchers from the University of Minnesota are developing a vaccine that will grant immunity to nicotine.
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When speaking about cryptography, one likely imagines a military or computerized setting, where a group of people tries fervently to decipher the coded messages of their enemy in order to gain valuable intelligence. But the same thing is happening in labs at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, only with microbiologists cracking the code of cancer cells.
In a potentially dangerous situation, many animals release stress hormones into the body to prepare the animal for raw survival. Sometimes these evoke defense mechanisms and sometimes they assist in fleeing from danger, hence the idea of a “fight or flight” response. Now, research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor shows that tadpoles instead choose a third option: physical transformation.
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is one of the most richly funded markets in the country for biotechnology vendors and lab suppliers, as recent NIH and NSF research funding statistics show. In 2012, the NIH gave the University of Michigan $456.3 million in research funding. The money has been awarded to various departments for research projects including:
While today’s advancements in biotechnology suggest that there’s nothing we can’t artificially produce, sometimes there’s just no substitute for nature’s own recipes. At least, that’s the philosophy behind the University of Minnesota’s Schmidt-Dannert Lab, whose aim is to harness compounds created in natural organisms like plants and fungi that cannot be produced by chemical means. Many of these compounds have beneficial properties that can be used in further research and drug production.
For example, take chloroplasts, the organelles that perform photosynthesis inside plant cells. They provide energy to plant cells when exposed to light. Animal cells don’t have chloroplasts, which means they’re missing out on a valuable energy source. The Schmidt-Dannert Lab, led by University of Minnesota professor Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, is working toward is creating solar-powered animal cells that are more productive and produce different sorts of organic materials.
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