LMB In The News


How do cells crawl?

“The amoeboid movement by which many types of cell crawl across surfaces has fascinated scientists ever since it was first observed using the earliest microscopes. Until recently, it has remained mysterious how cells extend the thin protrusion, known as a lamellipod, that enables them to move forward. In the past decade, however, extensive experimental work has shown that amoeboid motility is associated with the regulated polymerisation of branched actin filaments within the lamellipod. Now, researchers at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and in Cambridge have developed a physical model that explains how this polymerisation generates motion. In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Christian Schreiber (Cambridge University), Murray Stewart (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology) and Tom Duke (LCN) propose that the key point is that the packing efficiency of randomly oriented rod-like filaments decreases rapidly as the filaments get longer.” More…

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Transcriptional control in flies

“In a paper recently published in Genome Biology, Boris Adryan (Cambridge University) and Sarah Teichmann (LMB) have presented evidence that calls in to question currently-held beliefs about how transcription factors (TFs) coordinate gene expression during development to specify the fates of the different tissues in the body.” More…

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New endowed chair honors pioneering woman who ‘brought the fireworks’ to molecular biology

“On the night he learned he’d won the 1962 Nobel Prize, legend has it that DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick threw himself quite a party: angry neighbors, cops, the works. One of the guests, it seems, had brought a large supply of fireworks to the event, and the ensuing late-night mayhem was rocking the sleepy streets of Cambridge. That guest was Hildegard Lamfrom, an American biochemist from California Institute of Technology, who was working with Crick and several other future Nobel laureates at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Lamfrom was known for her love of a lively party, but she was better known during the late 1950s and early 1960s as one of the sharpest, most tenacious bench scientists in the burgeoning field of molecular biology.” More…

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Bicycle Therapeutics signs license agreement with EPFL and adds SR One and SVLS to Seed Syndicate

“Bicycle Therapeutics Ltd, a new biotechnology company developing a novel technology platform for the identification and optimisation of chemically constrained cyclic peptides with high target specificity and binding affinity, has signed a License agreement with the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland and has secured additional seed funding from SR One, the independent corporate venture fund of GlaxoSmithKline, and SV Life Sciences. Bicycle Therapeutics is a spin-out from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge and is based at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, UK.” More…

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Cancer-causing viruses exploit genetic achilles heel, finds study

“Scientists say some viruses can turn cells into ‘viral hotels’ by exploiting tiny molecules derived from human DNA. The UK study [directed by Cancer Research UK and in collaboration with LMB] found that some viruses can boost microRNA activity to suppress the immune system’s reaction to them.” More…

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Studying the Individual Cell

“Researchers are taking advantage of new tools and techniques in imaging, sequencing, and proteomics to zoom in on what single cells are doing … Paul Dear at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology says that single-cell analysis is going to explode — and test the paradigm that all cells in a body have identical genomes. “I think we are going to see a lot more cell-cell variation,” he says. Right now, though, Dear is focusing on cancer as those individual cells have lots of genomic differences.” More…

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Clocking off: the new science of sleep

“Does your body run like clockwork? As Week 7 fatigue sets in, Michael Hastings writes on what recent discoveries in genetics mean for our sleeping patterns … Dr Michael Hastings is a Cambridge neuroscientist, based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, specialising in the molecular neurobiology of circadian body clocks.” More…

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Newly elected Fellows

“Seventy-eight microbiologists have been elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology. Fellows of the Academy are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology… including Andrew A. Travers” More…

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Genetic coding revamp

“Scientists have developed a new genetic language using a ribosome that can read instructions that are 4 base pairs long, enabling the construction of designer proteins containing a variety of unnatural elements, according to a study published online today (February 14) in Nature… synthetic biologist Jason Chin of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues decided to devise a system that could read codons that are 4 base pairs long. Such a system could “open the door to what will be [the] truly revolutionary possibility [of creating] genetically coded polymers comprised of up to 256 [unique] building blocks.” More…

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A new line of research in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

“Etienne-Emile Baulieu’s research team (Inserm research unit 788 “Steroids, neuroprotection et neuroregeneration”), in collaboration with Michel Goedert (who originally characterised the Tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease in 1998) have just identified an interaction between the dysfunctional Tau protein and another protein, FKBP52. Using tools from biochemistry and molecular biology, the researchers established that there was a specific physical link between these two proteins in the brain. They demonstrated in vitro that the FKBP52 protein suppressed activity of the Tau protein, and hence prevented its role in the assembly of microtubules, known for their role in transporting nutrient and information-bearing molecules into the cell…” More…

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