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Research  Summer 2011
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Chemical Engineers at UCSB Design Molecular Probe to Study Disease

Chemical engineers at UC Santa Barbara are developing new molecular probes that allow for the study and development of new drugs to treat cancer, alzheimer's, and other illnesses. The new probes allow scientists to visualize, measure, and learn about the activities of enzymes, called proteases, on the surface of cancer cells. Patrick Daugherty, senior author and professor of chemical engineering, says this probe development offers a working understanding of how groups of proteases function together in cell biology.



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New Instrument Keeps Electronic "Eye" on Nanoparticles

A UCSB research team, led by physics professor Andrew Cleland, has developed a new instrument for precise nanoparticle measurement. The device, which is capable of detecting individual nanoparticles with diameters as small as a few tens of nanometers, opens up a wide range of potential applications in nanoparticle analysis. In addition to allowing very rapid and precise size analysis of complex mixtures, the instrument can also detect bacterial virus particles. This new technology will likely lead to the development multiple biomedical studies.

Studies of Marine Animals Aim to Help Prevent Rejection of Transplanted Organs

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Anthony W. De Tomaso, assistant professor of biology at UCSB, and his research team are studying the behavior of the sea squirt, a small marine animal, which may ultimately help solve the problem of rejection of organ and bone marrow transplants in humans. De Tomaso found that when two sea squirts fuse together, the same type of cell integration occurs as that in humans. If scientists can manipulate this integration process, they essentially can teach the immune system to better accept transplants, says De Tomaso.


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Scientists Discover How to Predict Learning Using Brain Analysis

In UCSB's Brain Imaging Center, an international team of scientists has developed a way to predict how much a person can learn. Using new computational techniques, the researchers analyzed brain imaging data from participants performing motor tasks. They found evidence that the flexibility of a person's brain - the way in which different areas of the brain link up in different combinations - can help predict how well someone will learn in the future, independent of how they are as a performer.


Scientists Discover New Drug Target for Kidney Disease

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Thomas Weimbs, Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and his research team discovered a molecular mechanism that could lead to new drug therapy for an inherited kidney disease. The team discovered a transcription factor that is activated in autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease, or ADPKD, as well as in cancer. With this discovery, the team believes that the transcription factor can potentially be a new drug therapy target for polycystic kidney disease.


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