Berkeley Lab captures first high-res 3D images of DNA segments
DNA segments are targeted to be building blocks for molecular computer memory and electronic devices, nanoscale drug-delivery systems, and as markers for biological research and imaging disease-relevant proteins
April 7, 2016
[+]In a Berkeley Lab-led study, flexible double-helix DNA segments (purple, with green DNA models) connected to gold nanoparticles (yellow) are revealed from the 3D density maps reconstructed from individual samples using a Berkeley Lab-developed technique called individual-particle electron tomography (IPET). Projections of the structures are shown in the green background grid. (credit: Berkeley Lab)
An international research team working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has captured the first high-resolution 3D images of double-helix DNA segments attached at either end to gold nanoparticles — which could act as building blocks for molecular computer memory and electronic devices (see World’s smallest electronic diode made from single DNA molecule), nanoscale drug-delivery systems, and as markers for biological research and for imaging disease-relevant proteins.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has purchased IBM Research’s supercomputing platform for deep-learning inference, based on 16 IBM TrueNorth neurosynaptic computer chips, to explore deep learning algorithms.
IBM says the scalable platform processing power is the equivalent of 16 million artificial “neurons” and 4 billion “synapses.” The brain-like neural-network design of the IBM Neuromorphic System can process complex cognitive tasks such as pattern recognition and integrated sensory processing far more efficiently than conventional chips, says IBM.
The technology represents a fundamental departure from computer design that has been prevalent for the past 70 years and could be incorporated in next-generation supercomputers able to perform at exascale speeds — 50 times faster than today’s most advanced petaflop (quadrillion floating point operations per second) systems.
Freezing normally damages cells, but this defrosted rabbit brain was in a near-perfect state
Kenneth Hayworth, Brain Preservation Foundation
A mammal brain has been defrosted from cryogenic storage in an almost perfect state for the first time. This breakthrough, accomplished using a rabbit brain, brings us one – albeit tiny – step closer to the prospect of reanimating a human brain that has been cryogenically preserved.
After death, organs begin to decay, but we can delay this by cooling these tissues, just like freezing food. But in the same way that a frozen strawberry becomes soggy when defrosted, it is difficult to perfectly preserve mammals at cold temperatures. We, and strawberries, contain large amounts of water, which freezes into ice crystals that damage cells.
Cryoprotectants can prevent this ice damage, working like medical-grade antifreezes and preventing organs from freezing. This works in small worms and rabbit kidneys, but it needs to be administered quickly, which usually causes brains to dehydrate and shrink.