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Metal-organic frameworks: record-breakers in porosity

The search for endless emptiness - von Prof. Dr Stefan Kaskel

In recent years, metal-organic frameworks have been setting one record after another in relation to specific surface area, with over 7,000m2/g now being achievable. Their modular construction and the large number of functionalities that can be built into the lattice make them both interesting and highly promising for a wide variety of applications.

Developing bio-based carrier systems for gene transfer

Genes on sugar - von Prof. Dr Dagmar Fischer, Prof. Dr Thomas Heinze

The targeted transport of DNA and RNA using vectors (mostly made from synthetic polymers) in cell cultures has become part of routine practice in biological R&D – a fact highlighted by the multitude of commercial kits now available. To date, however, obstacles relating to use in patients have beset many laboratory studies and – in particular – the transfer to clinical practice. In many cases, such issues are related to safety concerns and limited...

From fat droplets in plant cells to novel foods

Functional nanoparticles - von Dr Birgitta Zielbauer, Prof. Behic Mert, Prof. Thomas Vilgis

Occurring naturally in oilseeds, oleosomes are particles with special properties. Depending on the plant ­variety, their size ranges from microns down into the nanoscale. These particles, with their protein-­functionalized surfaces, are structurally very stable indeed. This makes them ­relevant for fundamental ­research and pharmacology, and also for innovative ­applications in food science.

How biopharmaceutical drug substances use the nose as a pathway to the brain

Behind the doorman’s back - von Johannes Flamm, Stefan Carle, Martina Stützle, Prof. Dr. Katharina Schindowski Zimmermann

According to WHO estimates, over 1 billion people worldwide suffer from disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). Some of the most familiar are Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. Although they have long been the focus of research, effective pharmacotherapies are still unavailable for many of these diseases. What is it about CNS disorders that makes it especially difficult to develop drug products that target pathophysiological...

Cell experiments with optical tweezers are revolutionising biomedicine

Tweezing without touching - von Robert Meissner, Christina Alpmann, Álvaro Barroso, Prof. Dr. Cornelia Denz

Ultramodern imaging techniques such as the Nobel Prize-winning STED micro­scopy enable the investigation of organisms, cells, bacteria and even viruses, DNA or individual molecules at very high spatial and temporal resolution. Active intervention in these tiniest of biological structures has been largely limited to indirect methods, however. While new developments such as microtweezers and micromechanical clamps are promising, these devices generally...

Developments in analytical techniques in the academic field

New century... old challenges - von Ass. Prof. Dr. José C. Rodrigues

In 1897, J.J. Thomson presented the world’s first particle accelerator, along with what would become, years later, the initial mass detector. Following develop­ments in the 1940s, the equipment developed at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge in 1912 was destined to, revolutionise analytical chemistry. For his discovery of ‘negatively charged corpuscles’, which we now call the ­electron, Thomson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in...

Environmental microplastics

A danger to human health? - von Prof. Dr. Gerd Liebezeit

Humans create their own environment and since the 1950s, this has increasingly included products made from synthetic polymers, commonly referred to as "plastics". Plastic waste in the environment is probably here to stay for decades – if not centuries. But can we actually remove plastics – and microplastics in particular – from the environment?

Environmental risk factors

Environmental risk factors and developmental windows of disease and disease prevention - von Prof. Dr. Günter Vollmer

At every stage of their life – from conception to death – organisms are exposed to a multitude of environmental factors, some of which are associated with severe health risks. Current research is now attempting to clarify the significance of particularly sensitive periods of the development of organisms, known as “developmental windows of disease”. Within these windows, there is an increased chance of specific types of changes to occur which...

Using functional polymers in porous structures for transport control

Switchable nanochannels - von Ass. Prof. Dr. Annette Andrieu-Brunsen

Can molecular transport be controlled by nanoscale pores? In both human technology and Nature, many transport and separation processes are based on pores and porous materials. If transport needs to be time-controlled and separation based not merely on size, it becomes necessary to combine pores of a certain size with switchable chemical functions or polymers.

What can analytics tell us?

Nanoparticles in food - von Dr Philipp Brüning

Over the last few years, legislation specifically governing the handling of nanomaterials (NMs) has been steadily expanded within the EU (Fig. 1). ­One example is the Food Information Regulation, which requires that food ingredients in the form of “engineered nanomaterials” must be clearly indi­cated in the list of ingredients. To produce accurate labelling – and to inspect and assess this labelling – clear definitions are required, alongside...

A new application for microscopy

Non-Invasive Cancer Diagnosis - von Dr Leo Habets

Cancer has been a part of human life from our earliest days. In research conducted by Aachen-based oncologist Dr Leo Habets, a non-invasive, microscope-based diagnostic procedure has the potential to revolutionise research and progress in understanding the circumstances of the disease, so as to ­develop new therapeutic approaches. Microscope-based high-content screening systems in basic clinical research: can a non-­invasive procedure replace the...

Characterization of Algal Organic Matter and their Biofuels Potential in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Algae as Biodiesel Source - von Prof. Dr Fares M. Howari

The need for alternative fuel sources is urgent as evinced ­by the worldwide declining of ­major hydrocarbon reservoirs, the high demand on ­hydrocarbon and associated environmental ­problems. Algae based bio­fuels or biodiesel are among the strongest options to serve as an alter­native source of hydrocarbon. ­Biodiesel burns 50% cleaner than con­ventional petroleum-derived diesel [1] and can be used in any diesel engine with little to no...

Clenbuterol testing in doping control samples: drug abuse or food contamination?

Meat as a Doping Trap - von Prof. Dr Mario Thevis, Prof. Dr Wilhelm Schänzer

Clenbuterol, a ß<sub>...

Extending the genetic system

Code Identified - von Prof. Dr Thomas Carell

The genetic code encodes all of the information that each cell requires ­­to function and interact correctly with its environment. The code is ­constructed from four separate molecules, known as the “canonical” Watson-Crick bases, namely: adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. The genetic code arises from the sequence of these four bases – given ­as A, C, G and T – in the DNA double helix.

HOBOS’ Prominent Patroness

von Dr Nizar Haddad, Princess Basma bint Ali

The story of HOBOS started with a successful book entitled “The Buzz about Bees” written by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Tautz in 2008. This unique book about the superorganism (the honey bee colony) was translated into 15 languages within one year. One of these languages was Arabic. It was translated by Dr. Nizar Haddad, a scientist from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The Arabic translation of the book won a prestigious award in applied and basic sciences....
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