Nobel Laureate biologist Sidney Altman and colleagues have developed a potentially powerful new weapon against drug-resistant bacteria. Working with cell cultures in the lab, Altman’s team showed that a compound they created, incorporating a protein found in human T-cells, could be effectively delivered into bacteria; the bacteria were either killed outright or rendered less resistant to other drugs. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers estimate their method to be “10 to 100 times more effective” than existing compounds. Next step: testing in mice.


A gene called DET1 plays a key role in regulating a plant’s internal circadian clock. Molecular biologist Xing Wang Deng and his colleagues report in Molecular Cell their finding that DET1 suppresses the activity of other genes that need to be turned on at dusk. The result—so far, just in the lab—is a faster-running clock and plants that flower sooner than normal.


For the bald, becoming a “fathead” may lead to new hair. In Cell, biologist Valerie Horsley and her team showed that the fat cells associated with hair follicles send a critical signal to follicle stem cells, which in turn spur hair growth. In mice, injections of these fat cells (greatly reduced among the bald) start dormant follicles working again.


Ferrofluids—magnetic liquids produced by mixing nanoparticles of magnetite into fluids—are important in Hollywood special effects. In Physical Review B, electrical engineer Hur Koser and his colleagues describe a pump that can move ferrofluids effectively using electromagnetism alone. Their “compact, simple, reliable, and scalable” prototype could lead to more-efficient cooling in computers and to medical uses in cellular perfusion and incubation systems.  

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