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Cohen L.S.,CUNY - College of Staten Island | Fracchiolla K.E.,CUNY - College of Staten Island | Becker J.,University of Tennessee at Knoxville | Naider F.,CUNY - College of Staten Island | Naider F.,Graduate Center
Biopolymers - Peptide Science Section | Year: 2014

The structural characterization of G protein-coupled receptors has surged since the development of methodologies to facilitate the crystallization of these highly helical, seven transmembrane, integral membrane receptors. In the past seven years, eighteen GPCR structures were determined by X-ray crystallography. The crystal structures represent a static picture of these conformationally flexible signal transducers. Analyses that probe their dynamics and conformational changes require other techniques, in particular solution state nuclear magnetic resonance studies. Such investigations are challenged by the size of GPCRs, their α-helical structure, which limits resonance dispersion, their tendencies to aggregate in micellar preparations and their conformational heterogeneity. For many years, groups have been studying GPCR fragments as a means to overcome some of these difficulties. The results of these fragment analyses are presented here. Review of the literature reveals that much of the original work depended on circular dichroism, infra-red spectroscopy and fluorescence approaches. High resolution structures obtained by NMR are compared, where applicable, to the available crystal structures. In most cases, the work done on fragments by biophysical analysis is validated by these comparisons. Our perspective on the field of GPCR fragment analysis is presented together with the future goals that must be considered if work with fragments is continued. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

News Article
Site: www.treehugger.com

"Stories of octopuses’ remarkable ability to solve puzzles, open bottles, and interact with aquarium caretakers, suggest an affinity between their intelligence and our own," writes Regan Penaluna for the science magazine Nautilus. Penaluna was musing upon the philosophy of cephalopods after considering an octopus at a local Italian market. “To eat the tentacle would be, in a way, like eating a brain – the eight arms of an octopus contain two-thirds of its half billion neurons," she writes. "Delicious for some, yes – but for others, a jumping off point for the philosophical question of other minds.” And so she did what any curious science writer would do, she interviewed a philosopher. Enter Peter Godfrey-Smith, a professor of philosophy at CUNY Graduate Center, who for years has been fascinated by what goes on in the brains of cephalopods. “I do think it feels like something to be an octopus,” Godfrey-Smith says. And indeed, why not? Cephalopods have the largest nervous systems of all invertebrates, aside from that fact that they are clearly magicians. Like I wrote last year when musing on how badass octopuses are: "We humans think we’re so fancy with our opposable thumbs and capacity for complex thought. But imagine life as an octopus … camera-like eyes, camouflage tricks worthy of Harry Potter, and not two but eight arms – that happen to be decked out with suckers that possess the sense of taste. And not only that, but those arms? They can execute cognitive tasks even when dismembered. And on top of all that razzmatazz, octocpuses have brains clever enough to navigate super complicated mazes and open jars filled with treats." So Penaluna and Godfrey-Smith got down to business and had a fascinating conversation about what it feels like to be an octopus, in which things like this are revealed: And so much more! It's a great read and I will now send you away from TreeHugger to enjoy the whole interview at Nautilus: What It Feels Like to Be an Octopus. And if you're a cephalopod lover like I am, know that Godfrey-Smith has a book coming out titled Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. “I think cephalopods have a special kind of otherness, because they are organized so differently from us and diverged evolutionarily from our line so long ago,” Godfrey-Smith says. “If they do have minds, theirs are the most other minds of all.”

Baboux F.,CNRS Optic of Semiconductor nanoStructures Group | Ge L.,CUNY - College of Staten Island | Ge L.,Graduate Center | Jacqmin T.,CNRS Optic of Semiconductor nanoStructures Group | And 11 more authors.
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2016

We report on the engineering of a nondispersive (flat) energy band in a geometrically frustrated lattice of micropillar optical cavities. By taking advantage of the non-Hermitian nature of our system, we achieve bosonic condensation of exciton polaritons into the flat band. Because of the infinite effective mass in such a band, the condensate is highly sensitive to disorder and fragments into localized modes reflecting the elementary eigenstates produced by geometric frustration. This realization offers a novel approach to studying coherent phases of light and matter under the controlled interplay of frustration, interactions, and dissipation. © 2016 American Physical Society.

News Article | January 14, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

As shown in numerous polls, most people in the US and elsewhere are concerned about the ecological effects of anthropogenic climate change. However, another aspect of the phenomenon will impact the stability of human systems around the globe more immediately than profound environmental changes. That is the economics of climate change. A new study by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law casts needed light on the socioeconomic factors and indicates consensus among economists on most critical subjects. It also reinforces a wider statement made by 2,500 economists almost 20 years ago, in 1997. Peter Howard, economics director of IPI, and Derek Sylvan, strategy director, wrote about the survey methods in the New Year’s issue of The Hill: The lists here represent all the major journals consulted, with specialist publications environmental economics listed below. The IPI/NYU study came to four conclusions based on these summary data about the economics of climate change: A slew of clear graphics revealing the views of 365 expert economists accompanies the discussion. Carbon pollution cuts are needed regardless of what other countries do. More than three out of four economists agreed that the US should take action to limit global warming no matter what response other nations have. Another 18% declared that the US should follow the global norm if other countries decide to cut their own emissions. In other words, 95% of expert climate economists feel that the US should follow through with the carbon-cutting pledges we made at the international meeting in Paris last December. Climate change is already hurting the global economy. The survey asked when the economic benefits the world experienced up to 1980 would be wiped out, given business-as-usual pollution and existing climate change. The experts saw a GDP loss of 10% by the end of this century, and a 20% chance of a “catastrophic” loss of one-quarter of global GDP. Almost half (40%) of those surveyed felt that this had already occurred. Had Americans made necessary changes in the Carter administration of 1980, we might have preserved this financial progress. As it is, we now have to face the negative effects of the past 35 years. A huge gap exists in our current economic forecasting according to this study. “Most current integrated economic-climate assessment models assume that economic growth will continue regardless of climate change impacts.” “Wrong,” say over three-quarters (78%) of economists counted in this study. Most expert economists agree that climate change will restrict global economic growth. A major downside of this finding is that to date, the US government’s estimate for the “social cost of carbon” ($37 per metric ton) is likely way too low. Not only will climate change (a 3% increase by 2090) hamper economic growth, say most economists, but it may also reduce global income indefinitely by 25% or more. This outcome would be similar to the effects of the Great Depression almost 100 years ago. Carbon pricing is the most efficient way to cut pollution. Getting a read on the most cost-effective means of decarbonization may be the greatest contribution economists have to make to the climate change conundrum. A huge majority (81%) of responders in this study of the economics of climate change found a market-based emissions trading system (carbon tax or cap and trade) most useful. This confirms the agreement of over 2500 economists (including nine Nobel Laureates) in the 1997 Economists’ Statement On Climate Change. Only 13% of those polled in the IPI/NYU study said that we should leave the problem to prioritizing cleaner fuels and energy efficiency and coordinating performance standards. In the US, political divisions have stymied attempts to institute carbon pricing, the clear choice of the economists, the people, and many progressive leaders, including the President. Twenty-three individual states have created or joined market-based compacts to date. Price Carbon from Martenlaw indicates that nearly 50% of Americans and Canadians are now living in states with some sort of carbon pricing rule. In terms of the social cost of carbon from 2010 to mid-century, the IPI/NYU results overtop those of previous reports by a huge margin. The study of economics of climate changeis also particularly revealing when compared to the results of a similar report from 2009 by the same institute. The recent study found that over 50% of economists thought that six major US economic sectors were most likely to be negatively affected by climate change. The 2009 study revealed similar results, but at a lower order of magnitude. Primary findings indicate dramatic upticks in effects on the real estate industry and transportation; smaller increases in the analysis of agriculture, mining, fishing, forestry, construction, and manufacturing; no change in health services; and a slight improvement for the insurance industry. None of the Democratic candidates for president of the United States argues with major climate change predictions. Unfortunately, Marco Rubio and many other Republican candidates have chosen to disagree with the calculated results. These conservative politicians seem determined to cling to the notion and spread a gospel that taking action against climate change will cripple the economy. Rubio has opined: This study shows clearly that an overwhelming majority of economists are more concerned about the American reality. “If we fail to cut carbon pollution and instead continue with business-as-usual, it will badly stunt economic growth and may potentially lead to catastrophic economic consequences.” Says Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York: Krugman cites the visible shift in both mainstream Chinese attitudes and national policy, thanks largely to the poisoning of the nation’s air by fossil-fueled industry. As for the US political arguments, Krugman says that “denial and anti-science conspiracy theorizing” may not matter as much as previously thought, considering that new technology has fundamentally changed the economic rules of electric power generation. The 2015 Paris Agreement of 195 countries now gives Republican dissenters, formerly in the minority of this US political group and almost universally outshouted, a powerful new financial reason to support climate change measures like the President’s Clean Power Plan, and even to take a lead in suggesting new ways of curbing the negative effects of climate change through profitable enterprises.    Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

Home > Press > NYU Tandon researcher synthesizes hybrid molecule that delivers a blow to malignant cells: Protein-gold nanoparticle hybrid assembles to carry anti-cancer drug, then disassembles for delivery Abstract: A new hybrid molecule developed in the lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering shows promise for treating breast cancer by serving as a "shipping container" for cytotoxic -- or cell-destroying -- chemotherapeutic agents. The protein/polymer-gold nanoparticle (P-GNP) composite can load up with these drugs, carry them to malignant cells, and unload them where they can do the most damage with the least amount of harm to the patient. The hybrid molecule enhances small-molecule loading, sustained release, and increased uptake in breast cancer cells. It is also relatively easy to synthesize. It was developed by Jin Kim Montclare--an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NYU Tandon and an affiliate professor of Chemistry at NYU and Biochemistry at SUNY Downstate--along with collaborators at the Department of Biology at Brooklyn College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Montclare explained that these abilities make the P-GNP vehicle unique among hybrids. "The protein component has been exclusively developed in our lab; no one else has made such constructs," she said. These protein polymers possess the unique ability to self-assemble in a temperature-sensitive manner while also exhibiting the ability to encapsulate small molecules. As published in the Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology, the team performed tests with in vitro samples of the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line, using the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin, shown experimentally to inhibit cancer cell growth when applied directly to a tumor, as the chemotherapy agent. When compared to the protein polymers alone, the P-GNP hybrid demonstrated a greater than seven-fold increase in curcumin binding, a nearly 50 percent slower release profile, and more than two-fold increase in cellular uptake of curcumin. This is an important achievement, given the difficulty in delivering chemotherapeutic compounds to their targets because such agents tend to be hydrophobic, meaning they don't dissolve easily in water. And the more potent they are, the more hydrophobic they tend to be, said Montclare, who recently received the "Rising Star Award" from the American Chemical Society's Women Chemist Committee. "The P-GNPs are able to solubilize the hydrophobic small molecule through both the protein domain itself, and the gold nanoparticles. Thus, P-GNP can carry higher payloads, enabling it to deliver more drug," she said. She also found an easier way to build these hybrid molecules. Most literature describes a process involving high temperatures and pressures, and harsh chemistry. But Montclare is able to synthesize P-GNP in one operation thanks to histidine tags, which, she said, are "responsible for 'templating' the GNPs, making the synthesis a possibility under ambient temperature and pressure. So we do it all at once because the protein itself crystallizes the gold right from a solution of gold salts to generate GNP right on the end of the protein polymer." The next step is to observe efficacy by injecting P-GNP complexes directly into a variety of mouse cancer models. Montclare said human testing of P-GNP is still years away. ### Outside funding support was provided by the National Science Foundation, Shiffrin Meyer Breast Cancer Discovery Fund, and the National Institute of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. About NYU Tandon School of Engineering The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to programs at its main campus in downtown Brooklyn, it is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, and it operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. For more information, visit engineering.nyu.edu. For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

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