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London, United Kingdom
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News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The synthetic biologists from Imperial College London have re-engineered yeast cells to manufacture the nonribosomal peptide antibiotic penicillin. In laboratory experiments, they were able to demonstrate that this yeast had antibacterial properties against streptococcus bacteria. The authors of the study, which is published today in the journal Nature Communications, say their new method demonstrates the effectiveness of using this kind of synthetic biology as a route for discovering new antibiotics. This could open up possibilities for using re-engineered yeast cells to develop new forms of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs from the nonribosomal peptide family. Nonribosomal peptides are normally produced by bacteria and fungi, forming the basis of most antibiotics today. Pharmaceutical companies have long experimented with nonribosomal peptides to make conventional antibiotics. The rise of antimicrobial resistance means there is a need to use genetic engineering techniques to find a new range of antibiotics from bacteria and fungi. However, genetically engineering the more exotic fungi and bacteria- the ones likely to have antibacterial properties -- is challenging because scientists don't have the right tools and they are difficult to grow in a lab environment, requiring special conditions. Baker's yeast on the other hand is easy to genetically engineer. Scientists can simply insert DNA from bacteria and fungi into yeast to carry out experiments, offering a viable new host for antibiotic production research. The rise of synthetic biology methods for yeast will allow researchers to make and test many new gene combinations that could produce a whole new range of new antibiotics. However, the authors are keen to point out that the research is still in its early stages. While this approach does show promise, they have so far produced nonribosomal peptide antibiotic penicillin in small quantities. More research needs to be done to see if it can be adapted to finding other compounds and to get production up to commercially viable quantities. Dr Tom Ellis, from the Centre for Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London, explains: "Humans have been experimenting with yeast for thousands of years. From brewing beer to getting our bread to rise, and more recently for making compounds like anti-malarial drugs, yeast is the microscopic workhorse behind many processes. "The rise of drug-resistant superbugs has brought a real urgency to our search for new antibiotics. Our experiments show that yeast can be engineered to produce a well-known antibiotic. This opens up the possibility of using yeast to explore the largely untapped treasure trove of compounds in the nonribosomal peptide family to develop a new generation of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories." Previously, scientists have demonstrated that they could re-engineer a different yeast to make penicillin. However, that species of yeast is not as well understood or amenable to genetic manipulation compared to baker's yeast, used by the authors in today's study, making it less suitable for the development of novel antibiotics using synthetic biology. In their experiments, the team used genes from the filamentous fungus, from which nonribosomal peptide penicillin is naturally derived. These genes caused the yeast cells to produce the nonribosomal peptide penicillin via a two-step biochemical reaction process. First the cells made the nonribosomal peptide base -- the 'backbone' molecule -- by a complex reaction, and then this was modified by a set of further fungal enzymes that turn it into the active antibiotic. During the experimentation process, the team discovered that they didn't need to extract the penicillin molecules from inside the yeast cell. Instead, the cell was expelling the molecules directly into the solution it was in. This meant that the team simply had to add the solution to a petri-dish containing streptococcus bacteria to observe its effectiveness. In the future, this approach could greatly simplify the molecule testing and manufacturing process. Dr Ali Awan, co-author from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, explains: "Fungi have had millions of years to evolve the capability to produce bacteria-killing penicillin. We scientists have only been working with yeast in this context for a handful of years, but now that we've developed the blueprint for coaxing yeast to make penicillin, we are confident we can further refine this method to create novel drugs in the future. "We believe yeast could be the new mini-factories of the future, helping us to experiment with new compounds in the nonribosomal peptide family to develop drugs that counter antimicrobial resistance." The team are currently looking for fresh sources of funding and new industrial collaborators to take their research to the next level. Dr Ellis added: "Penicillin was first discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, which is now part of Imperial. He also predicted the rise of antibiotic resistance soon after making his discovery. We hope, in some small way, to build on his legacy, collaborating with industry and academia to develop the next generation of antibiotics using synthetic biology techniques." The research was carried out in conjunction with SynbiCITE, which is the UK's national centre for the commercialisation of synthetic biology. "Biosynthesis of the Antibiotic Nonribosomal Peptide Penicllin in Baker's yeast" published in the journal Nature Communications on [insert date]. [1] [2] Ali R. Awan, [1] [2] Benjamin A. Blount, [1] [3] David J. Bell, [1] [4] Jack C. Ho, [1] [4] Robert McKiernan, [1] [2] Tom Ellis. [1] Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ [2] Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ [3] SynbiCITE Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ [4] Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ Imperial College London is one of the world's leading universities. The College's 16,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for society. Founded in 1907, Imperial builds on a distinguished past -- having pioneered penicillin, holography and fibre optics -- to shape the future. Imperial researchers work across disciplines to improve health and wellbeing, understand the natural world, engineer novel solutions and lead the data revolution. This blend of academic excellence and its real-world application feeds into Imperial's exceptional learning environment, where students participate in research to push the limits of their degrees. Imperial collaborates widely to achieve greater impact. It works with the NHS to improve healthcare in west London, is a leading partner in research and education within the European Union, and is the UK's number one research collaborator with China. Imperial has nine London campuses, including its White City Campus: a research and innovation centre that is in its initial stages of development in west London. At White City, researchers, businesses and higher education partners will co-locate to create value from ideas on a global scale. Imperial College London academic experts are available for interview via broadcast quality Globelynx TV facilities and an ISDN line for radio at our South Kensington Campus. To request an interview, please contact a member of the communications team http://www.


News Article | November 17, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Scientists studying the Chicxulub crater have shown how large asteroid impacts deform rocks in a way that may produce habitats for early life. Scientists studying the Chicxulub crater have shown how large asteroid impacts deform rocks in a way that may produce habitats for early life. Around 65 million years ago a massive asteroid crashed into the Gulf of Mexico causing an impact so huge that the blast and subsequent knock-on effects wiped out around 75 per cent of all life on Earth, including most of the dinosaurs. This is known as the Chicxulub impact. In April and May 2016, an international team of scientists undertook an offshore expedition and drilled into part of the Chicxulub impact crater. Their mission was to retrieve samples from the rocky inner ridges of the crater - known as the 'peak ring' - drilling 506 to 1335 metres below the modern day sea floor to understand more about the ancient cataclysmic event. Now, the researchers have carried out the first analysis of the core samples. They found that the impact millions of years ago deformed the peak ring rocks in such a way that it made them more porous, and less dense, than any models had previously predicted. Porous rocks provide niches for simple organisms to take hold, and there would also be nutrients available in the pores, from circulating water that would have been heated inside the Earth's crust. Early Earth was constantly bombarded by asteroids, and the team have inferred that this bombardment must have also created other rocks with similar physical properties. This may partly explain how life took hold on Earth. The study, which is published today in the journal Science, also confirmed a model for how peak rings were formed in the Chicxulub crater, and how peak rings may be formed in craters on other planetary bodies. The team's new work has confirmed that the asteroid, which created the Chicxulub crater, hit the Earth's surface with such a force that it pushed rocks, which at that time were ten kilometres beneath the surface, farther downwards and then outwards. These rocks then moved inwards again towards the impact zone and then up to the surface, before collapsing downwards and outwards again to form the peak ring. In total they moved an approximate total distance of 30 kilometres in a matter of a few minutes. Professor Joanna Morgan, lead author of the study from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said: "It is hard to believe that the same forces that destroyed the dinosaurs may have also played a part, much earlier on in Earth's history, in providing the first refuges for early life on the planet. We are hoping that further analyses of the core samples will provide more insights into how life can exist in these subterranean environments." The next steps will see the team acquiring a suite of detailed measurements from the recovered core samples to refine their numerical simulations. Ultimately, the team are looking for evidence of modern and ancient life in the peak-ring rocks. They also want to learn more about the first sediments that were deposited on top of the peak ring, which could tell the researchers if they were deposited by a giant tsunami, and provide them with insights into how life recovered, and when life actually returned to this sterilised zone after the impact. "The formation of peak rings in large impact craters", published Thursday 17 November in the journal Science. See paper for full list of authors. Imperial College London is one of the world's leading universities. The College's 16,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for society. Founded in 1907, Imperial builds on a distinguished past - having pioneered penicillin, holography and fibre optics - to shape the future. Imperial researchers work across disciplines to improve health and wellbeing, understand the natural world, engineer novel solutions and lead the data revolution. This blend of academic excellence and its real-world application feeds into Imperial's exceptional learning environment, where students participate in research to push the limits of their degrees. Imperial collaborates widely to achieve greater impact. It works with the NHS to improve healthcare in west London, is a leading partner in research and education within the European Union, and is the UK's number one research collaborator with China. Imperial has nine London campuses, including its White City Campus: a research and innovation centre that is in its initial stages of development in west London. At White City, researchers, businesses and higher education partners will co-locate to create value from ideas on a global scale. http://www. Imperial College London academic experts are available for interview via broadcast quality Globelynx TV facilities and an ISDN line for radio at our South Kensington Campus. To request an interview, please contact a member of the communications team http://www. The expedition was conducted by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The expedition is also supported by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme (ICDP). The expedition would not have been possible without the support and assistance of the Yucatán Government, Mexican federal government agencies and scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán (CICY).


Lambinet F.,South Kensington Campus | Khodaei Z.S.,South Kensington Campus | Aliabadi M.H.,South Kensington Campus
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2016

Bonded repair of composite structures still remains a crucial concern for the airworthiness authorities because of the uncertainty about the repair quality. This works, investigates the applicability of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) techniques for monitoring of bonded repair. Active sensing method has been applied to two case studies: A sensorised panel impacted to cause barely visible impact damage (BVID) and repaired afterwards, the tensile and fatigue testing of a composite strap repair. In the first case, the previous sensors have been used to detect an artificially introduced damage. In the second case the failure of the adhesive during the tensile testing is used as basis of the load levels in the tensile-Tensile fatigue test. In both cases PZT transducers have been used to monitor the bonded patch. An electromechanical impedance (EMI) and Lamb wave analysis have been carried out to check the overall integrity of the repair patch between. In both cases the state of the repaired composite was monitored successfully and reported. © 2016 Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.


Sainfort L.,South Kensington Campus | Khodaei Z.S.,South Kensington Campus | Aliabadi M.H.,South Kensington Campus
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2016

In this work the optimal configuration of transducers for damage detection and localization has been investigated. A particular interest is given to three optimization methods: mini-max, average Probability of Non Detection (POND) and ray tracing approach, coupled with genetic algorithm. After optimal configurations have been computed for each technique, they are experimentally tested and compared on a composite panel with one or two damages by generating and receiving Lamb waves signals. Damage detection is carried out with the Probability Based Damage Index Method (PBDIM). It was found that, in most cases, the ray tracing method and the average POND technique give better results, with a good detection of damages in comparison to the minimax POND technique, even if the latter seems numerically better. © 2016 Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.


Yue N.,South Kensington Campus | Khodaei Z.S.,South Kensington Campus | Aliabadi M.H.,South Kensington Campus
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2016

Strain readings recorded by surface mounted piezoelectric sensors due to impact events on composite panel are used to detect and characterize the impact. Sensor signals on a composite stiffened panels have been simulated by a valid numerical model. Applicability of least square support vector machines (LSSVM) on creating a meta-model to detect and characterize impact event has been investigated. In particular, the main advantage of LSSVM over other meta-modeling technique was found to be the smaller number of training data that is required. Experimental results on a composite panel has been used to validate the findings. © 2016 Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.


Tanaka H.,South Kensington Campus | Khodaei Z.S.,South Kensington Campus
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2016

Probability-based imaging which illustrates a distribution map of probability of damage presence in structures is a diagnostic method well established for damage detection in sensorized structures. Since the quality of the recorded signal is directly linked to the reliability of the diagnostic outcome, the assessment of robustness of the damage detection methodology is of high significance. In this paper, robustness and reliability of the current probability based imaging algorithms have been assessed for detecting BVID in a composite panel. Consequently, a proposed outlier analysis and DI probability distribution damage detection algorithm was shown to improve the reliability of the detection method. © 2016 Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland .


Etoundi A.C.,University of Bristol | Burgess S.C.,University of Bristol | Vaidyanathan R.,South Kensington Campus
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics | Year: 2013

This paper presents a novel condylar hinge for robotic limbs which was inspired by the human knee joint. The ligaments in the human knee joint can be modeled as an inverted parallelogram four-bar mechanism. The knee joint also has a condylar cam mechanism between the femur and tibia bones. The bio-inspired joint mimics the four-bar mechanism and the cam mechanism of the human knee joint. The bio-inspired design has the same desirable features of a human knee joint including compactness, high mechanical advantage, high strength, high stiffness and locking in the upright position. These characteristics are important for robotic limbs where there are often tight space and mass limitations. A prototype hinge joint similar in size to the human knee joint has been designed and tested. Experimental tests have shown that the new condylar hinge joint has superior performance to a pin-jointed hinge in terms of mechanical advantage and stiffness. The prototype hinge has a mechanical advantage that is greater than a pin-jointed hinge by up to 35% which leads to a corresponding reduction in the peak force of the actuator of up to 35% for a squatting movement. The paper also presents a five-step design procedure to produce a combined inverted parallelogram mechanism with a cam mechanism. © 2013 by ASME.


Ghajari M.,South Kensington Campus | Khodaei Z.S.,South Kensington Campus | Aliabadi M.H.,South Kensington Campus
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2012

In this work, a number of impacts on a composite stiffened panel fitted with piezoceramic sensors were simulated with the finite element (FE) method. During impacts, the contact force history and strains at the sensors were recorded. These data were used to train, validate and test two artificial neural networks (ANN) for the prediction of the impact position and the peak of the impact force. The performance of the network for location detection has been promising but the other network should be further improved to provide acceptable predictions about the peak force. © (2012) Trans Tech Publications.


Khodaei Z.S.,South Kensington Campus | Rojas-Diaz R.,South Kensington Campus | Aliabadi M.H.,South Kensington Campus
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2012

The propagation characteristic of Lamb waves activated by Piezoelectric actuators and collected by sensors in a stiffened panel has been investigated. A network of actuators is used to scan the structure before and after the presence of damage. A diagnostic imaging algorithm has been developed based on the probability of damage at each point of the structure measured by the signal reading of sensors in the benchmark and damaged structure. A damage localization image is then reconstructed by superimposing the image obtained from each sensor-actuator path. Threedimensional finite element model with a transducer network is modeled. Damage is introduced as a small softening area in the stiffened panel. Applying the imaging algorithm, the damage location was predicted with good accuracy. This method proves to be suitable for stiffened panels, where the complicated geometry and boundary reflections make the signal processing more complicated. © (2012) Trans Tech Publications.


Sharif Khodaei Z.,South Kensington Campus | Qu L.,South Kensington Campus | Aliabadi M.H.,South Kensington Campus
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2012

In this work, Lamb wave generation and propagation have been modelled in composite plates. Actuation and acquisition of signals when the PZT transducers are tied to the structure or bonded with an adhesive layer are investigated. The effect of adhesive thickness and actuation frequency of Lamb wave have been examined.

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