New research could make ethanol production more efficient and economic

New research at the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus could significantly change ethanol production by lowering operating costs and simplifying the dry grind process. “There are currently more than 200 dry grind plants that are processing corn to produce ethanol,” said Vijay Singh, director of IBRL and … Read more

Slow motion waves of jumping genes in the human genome

Nature is full of parasites—organisms that flourish and proliferate at the expense of another species. Surprisingly, these same competing roles of parasite and host can be found in the microscopic molecular world of the cell. A new study by two Illinois researchers has shown that dynamic elements within the human genome interact with each other … Read more

Machine-learning discovery and design of membrane active peptides for biomedicine

In this image the grey crosses are peptides scanned projected into a 2D plane spanned by the sequence distance to a known antimicrobial peptide (x-axis) and prediction confidence of the classifier that the peptide is membrane active (y-axis). Membrane activity was detected in diverse classes of peptides including neuropeptides, topogenic peptides, and viral fusion proteins. Membrane activity is mediated through the induction if negative Guassian curvature in the membrane (inset).

There are approximately 1,100 known antimicrobial peptides (AMP) with diverse sequences that can permeate microbial membranes. To help discover the “blueprint” for natural AMP sequences, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Los Angeles, have developed a new machine learning approach to discover and design ⍺-helical membrane active peptides … Read more

Time-lapse cell imaging reveals dynamic activity

Living cells are miniature worlds bustling with activity. A new, advanced imaging method can track cells over long periods of time using only light – no dye or chemicals required – to reveal dynamics and provide insight into how cells function, develop and interact. Researchers from the University of Illinois and collaborators described the method, … Read more

University of Illinois researchers quantify drug delivery from nanoparticles inside a cell

For the first time, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated the successful delivery of drug from nanoparticles can be quantified inside a cell. “We can precisely tell how much drug has been released from the carrier at a given time point,” stated Dipanjan Pan, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Illinois. … Read more

Structural, regulatory and human error were factors in Washington highway bridge collapse

A key factor in the crash was the curved opening of the bridge. The posted height was the maximum in the center, not the lower curved section above the outer lanes, which the truck hit, which means the databases that shipping companies rely on to plan routes may be inaccurate.

When an important bridge collapsed on Interstate 5 near Mount Vernon, Washington, in 2013, questions were raised about how such a catastrophic failure could occur. A new analysis by a team of civil engineering faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign outlines the many factors that led to the collapse, as well as steps … Read more

Force triggers gene expression by stretching chromatin

How genes in our DNA are expressed into traits within a cell is a complicated mystery with many players, the main suspects being chemical. However, a new study by University of Illinois researchers and collaborators in China has demonstrated that external mechanical force can directly regulate gene expression. The study also identified the pathway that … Read more

Genome-editing proteins ride a DNA zip line

For gene-editing proteins to be useful in clinical applications, they need to be able to find the specific site they’re supposed to edit among billions of DNA sequences. Using advanced imaging techniques, University of Illinois researchers have found that one class of genome-editing proteins rapidly travels along a strand of DNA like a rider on … Read more

Method opens a window on how stress and strain affect battery performance

Batteries that charge faster and have greater capacity could boost portable electronic devices and electric cars. A new method to simultaneously test stress and strain in battery electrodes gives researchers a window into the mechanical, electrical and chemical forces within lithium-ion batteries. The method revealed an unexpected point of stress in the charging cycle, which … Read more