Four members of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) faculty—William Clemons Jr., assistant professor of biochemistry; Thanos Siapas, professor of computation and neural systems; Long Cai, assistant professor of chemistry; and Lea Goentoro, assistant professor of biology—have been named among the researchers being given National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Awards.
Caltech senior Wilson Ho spent his summer completing a SURF project in the lab of Robert Grubbs, one of the winners of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Ho tells his nonscientist friends and family that the goal of his project is to develop "stem-cell Band-Aids" that might one day help restore vision in those suffering from macular degeneration.
Much like cities organize contingency plans and supplies for emergencies, chronic infectious diseases like HIV form reservoirs that ensure their survival in adverse conditions. But these reservoirs—small populations of viruses or bacteria of a specific type that persist despite attack by the immune system or drug treatment—are not always well understood. Now, however, researchers at Caltech believe they have begun to decode how a reservoir of infection can persist in HIV-positive populations.
One looks like little more than a stethoscope head attached to a wire; the other seems to be an oven mitt with three metal disks sewn on. Simple, yes, but these prototype medical devices—developed by young Caltech researchers working on a SURF project—could one day save lives.
Zcube Srl, a research venture of the Italian pharmaceutical company Zambon, and Caltech have signed an exclusive research and option agreement to develop and commercialize skin patches that contain embedded carbon nanotubes for delivering drugs.
Each time a virus invades a healthy individual, antibodies created by the body fight to fend off the intruders. For HIV, the antibodies are very specific and are generated too slowly to combat the rapidly changing virus. However, scientists have found that some HIV-positive people develop highly potent antibodies that can neutralize different subtypes of the virus. Now, a study involving Caltech researchers points to the possibility of using these neutralizing antibodies in the development of a vaccine.
Figuring a virus's host is can be difficult, especially when you're talking about bacteriophages, a group of bacteria-infecting viruses. The problem lies in identifying which bacteriophages are infecting which bacteria, without having to culture either the viruses or their hosts in the lab. Now, a Caltech-led team has created a technique that can "physically link single bacterial cells harvested from a natural environment with a viral marker genes," the scientists report in the July 1 issue of the journal Science.
As part of a program to foster innovative biomedical research projects, an anonymous donor has pledged $3 million each to Caltech and City of Hope to strengthen scientific collaborations between the two leading research institutions.
There's a wealth of health information hiding in the human immune system. Accessing it, however, can be very challenging, as the many and complex roles that the immune system plays can mask the critical information that is relevant to addressing specific health issues. Now, research led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has shown that a new generation of microchips developed by the team can quickly and inexpensively assess immune function.