Risks and benefits of nanotechnology

Summaries of newsworthy papers in Nature research journals including Neural crest stem cells on tap, Mutation identified in neurodegenerative disorder, Immune delivery service and Normal cells lead tumour cell invasion


For papers that will be published online on 25 November 2007

This press release is copyrighted to the Nature journals mentioned below.

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Risks and benefits of nanotechnology - Nature Nanotechnology
Neural crest stem cells on tap - Nature Biotechnology
Mutation identified in neurodegenerative disorder - Nature Genetics
Immune delivery service - Nature Immunology
Normal cells lead tumour cell invasion - Nature Cell Biology

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo
· Geographical listing of authors

PDFs of all the papers mentioned on this release can be found in the relevant journal’s section of http://press.nature.com. Press contacts for the Nature journals are listed at the end of this release.

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*************************NATURE NANOTECHNOLOGY**********************


[1] Risks and benefits of nanotechnology
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2007.392

Researchers working on nanoscience and nanotechnology are more optimistic than the general public about the potential benefits of research in their field but, unusually for new technologies, they are also more worried about some of the risks, according to a commentary published online this week in Nature Nanotechnology.

Dietram Scheufele and co-workers surveyed 1,015 US adults and 363 nanoscientists earlier this year. Over 90% of the scientists felt that nanotechnology would lead to better treatment of diseases and over 80% felt that it would lead to a cleaner environment and a solution to energy problems. Almost 45% of the public, on the other hand, were worried that nanotechnology would lead to a loss of privacy, compared with around 30% of nanoscientists. However, nanoscientists were more worried than the general public about nanotechnology causing more pollution and new health problems.

"Our research shows that industry and university scientists are among the handful of groups the public trusts the most for information about nanotechnology - much more than governmental bodies, regulatory agencies and news media," write Scheufele and co-workers. "Nanotechnology may, therefore, be one of the first emerging technologies where academia and business have the ability to reach out directly to a public who trusts the information they provide. Ironically, nanotechnology may also be the first emerging technology for which scientists may have to explain to that public why they should be more rather than less concerned about some potential risks".

Author contact:
Dietram Scheufele (University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, USA)
Tel: +1 608 262 1614; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Nanotechnology to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[2] A versatile approach for the processing of polymer nanocomposites with self-assembled nanofibre templates
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2007.379

[3] Molecular beam epitaxy growth of free-standing plane-parallel InAs nanoplates
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2007.378

****************************NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY***********************


[4] & [5] Neural crest stem cells on tap
DOI: 10.1038/nbt1365
DOI: 10.1038/nbt1362

Human embryonic stem cells have been coaxed into becoming neural crest stem cells, an important cell type in the developing embryo. These findings, reported online this week in Nature Biotechnology, will make it possible to produce human neural crest stem cells in large numbers to study the development and diseases of the peripheral nervous system.

During development, embryonic stem cells give rise to all the specialized cell types in the body, but finding methods to mimic this process in a laboratory dish is challenging. The neural crest region of the embryo is of special interest because it gives rise to neurons and glia of the peripheral nervous system and various non-neural cells involved in the formation of cartilage, bone, muscle and other tissues. Studer and colleagues describe the isolation of neural crest stem cells from human embryonic stem cells and their differentiation into peripheral neurons and Schwann cells and into cells that express markers of fat, cartilage, bone and smooth muscle.

In another paper in this week’s Nature Biotechnology, Gordon Keller and colleagues have identified a particular site in the human genome (ROSA26) that is similar to one routinely used to introduce genes into the mouse genome. They show that this site is useful for adding genes to a human embryonic stem cell line.

Author contact:
Lorenz Studer (Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, NY, USA) Author paper [4]
Tel: +1 212 639 6126/8510; E-mail: [email protected]

Gordon Keller (MaRS Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Author paper [5]
Tel: +1 416 581 7694; E-mail: [email protected]

*****************************NATURE GENETICS *****************************


[6] Mutation identified in neurodegenerative disorder
DOI: 10.1038/ng.2007.43

Individuals with a neurodegenerative disease called spinocerebellar ataxia 11 (SCA11) have mutations in a gene called TTBK2, according to a study to be published online this week in Nature Genetics. TTBK2, which encodes the protein tau tubulin kinase 2, functions in a pathway that has also been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.
Henry Houlden and colleagues studied two families with SCA11, which is one of a group of similar spinocerebellar ataxias, and is characterized by poor coordination, abnormal eye movement, and impairment of speech and swallowing. The authors identified mutations in TTBK2 in affected individuals from a family in Devon, England, some of whose members have had the disease going back eight generations. They also report TTBK2 mutations in affected individuals from a Pakistani family.
Tau tubulin kinase 2 is an enzyme that adds phosphate groups to a protein called tau, whose accumulation in phosphorylated form has been associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Another member of this protein family, TTBK1, has been shown to phosphorylate tau proteins at sites that are identical to those observed in Alzheimer’s disease. The study by Houlden and colleagues is the first report of a genetic defect in a tau kinase in any neurodegenerative disease, and suggests that further study of SCA11 may shed light on the molecular basis of other so-called ‘tauopathies’.

Author contact:
Henry Houlden (Institute of Neurology, London, UK)
Tel: +44 207 837 3611; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Genetics to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[7] Genomic analysis of Bartonella identifies bacterial type IV secretion systems as pathogenicity factors
DOI: 10.1038/ng.2007.38

******************************NATURE IMMUNOLOGY ***********************


[8] Immune delivery service
DOI: 10.1038/ni1542

Researchers have identified the cells responsible for rapid delivery of blood-borne antigens to specialized sites in the spleen. These antigens are derived from pathogens that have invaded the bloodstream and immune responses are initiated once they reach the spleen. The findings are reported online in Nature Immunology this week.
The immune cells, called marginal zone B cells, reside in the spleen and are constantly bathed in blood. Previous work identified these cells as first responders for making antibodies to bacteria or other pathogens that may have invaded the bloodstream. However, such cells were previously considered immobile and their response, although rapid, was thought not to involve other cells of the immune system and thus weaker than subsequent immune responses that develop deeper within the spleen in sites called follicles. This situation posed a problem as to how the follicular immune cells would encounter such antigens.
Jason Cyster and colleagues show that these marginal zone B cells capture antigens from the blood and, like a courier service, deliver packets of antigen to follicular immune cells. The marginal zone B cells then race back to the blood-rich marginal sinuses to capture more antigen. By inhibiting chemical cues that direct traffic in the spleen, the authors reveal this ‘shuttle’ service displayed by the marginal zone cells. Such a delivery service ensures an efficient and rapid mode of eliciting strong immune responses to invaders present in the bloodstream.

Author contact:
Jason Cyster (University of California San Francisco, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 415 502 6427; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Immunology to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[9] The sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 1 causes tissue retention by inhibiting the entry of peripheral tissue T lymphocytes into afferent lymphatics
DOI: 10.1038/ni1534

****************************NATURE CELL BIOLOGY *************************


[10] Normal cells lead tumour cell invasion
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1658

Normal tissue cells called fibroblasts can help to form a path for invading carcinoma cells, and may thereby promote tumour metastasis, suggests a paper online this week in Nature Cell Biology.
The role of tumour-associated fibroblasts in tumour development has been well documented, but Erik Sahai and colleagues have now identified a novel role in promoting the spreading of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cells from the primary tumour by tunnelling through the matrix that surrounds and confines cancer cells.
Using a three-dimensional cell-culture system that mimics the tumour environment, they found that SCC cells could only escape from the solid tumour if they were lead by a fibroblast cell; the fibroblasts are needed to remodel the matrix around the tumour cells and so provide a path along which they can move. This mechanism of tumour invasion may hold true in patients: in samples taken from the head and neck of SCC patients, fibroblasts were seen closely associated with invading tumour cells and activated the same factor, Rho - shown to be important for fibroblast-mediated invasion in the culture system.
A new model emerges in which carcinoma cells can become invasive without needing to undergo a change in morphology themselves. Instead, the force and matrix remodelling activities required for invasion can be provided by another cell type - in this case, fibroblasts associated with the tumour cells.

Author contact:
Erik Sahai (Cancer Research UK, London, UK)
Tel: +44 207 269 3165; E-mail: [email protected]

Additional contact for comment on paper:
Derek Radisky (Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Jacksonville, FL, USA)
Tel: +1 904 953 6913; E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Cell Biology to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[11] MUC1 oncoprotein activates the IkappaB kinase beta complex and constitutive NF-kappaB signaling
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1661

[12] Ring1-mediated ubiquitination of H2A restrains poised RNA polymerase II at bivalent genes in mouse ES cells
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1663


Items from other Nature journals to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

NATURE PHOTONICS (http://www.nature.com/nphton)

[13] Three-dimensional endomicroscopy using optical coherence tomography
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.228

[14] Plasmonic all-optical tuneable wavelength shifter
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.229

[15] Miniaturized all-fibre probe for three-dimensional optical trapping and manipulation
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.230

NATURE CHEMICAL BIOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/nchembio)

[16] Molecular basis of cyclin-CDK-CKI regulation by reversible binding of an inositol pyrophosphate
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2007.52

Nature PHYSICS (http://www.nature.com/naturephysics)

[17] Imaging spontaneous currents in superconducting arrays of Pi-junctions
DOI: 10.1038/nphys780

[18] Observation of electron-hole puddles in graphene using a scanning single-electron transistor
DOI: 10.1038/nphys781

[19] Measurement of the spin-transfer-torque vector in magnetic tunnel junctions
DOI: 10.1038/nphys783

[20] Quantitative measurement of voltage dependence of spin-transfer torque in MgO-based magnetic tunnel junctions
DOI: 10.1038/nphys784

NATURE MATERIALS (http://www.nature.com/naturematerials)

[21] Spatially resolved electronic and vibronic properties of single diamondoid molecules
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2066

[22] Electronic structure of single DNA molecules resolved by transverse scanning tunnelling spectroscopy
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2060

[23] Reversible tuning of a block-copolymer nanostructure via electric fields
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2068

Nature MEDICINE (http://www.nature.com/naturemedicine)

[24] Pim-1 regulates cardiomyocyte survival downstream of Akt
DOI: 10.1038/nm1671

[25] The ubiquitin ligase gp78 promotes sarcoma metastasis by targeting KAI1 for degradation
DOI: 10.1038/nm1686

Nature NEUROSCIENCE (http://www.nature.com/natureneuroscience)

[26] Recognition memory: opposite effects of hippocampal damage on recollection and familiarity
DOI: 10.1038/nn2016

[27] Development of hemodynamic responses and functional connectivity in rat somatosensory cortex
DOI: 10.1038/nn2017

Nature STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/natstructmolbiol)

[28] Straightening and sequential buckling of the pore-lining helices define the gating cycle of MscS
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1341

[29] Identification of heme as the ligand for the orphan nuclear receptors REV-ERBalpha and REV-ERBbeta
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1344

NATURE METHODS (http://www.nature.com/nmeth)

[30] Gene synthesis by circular assembly amplification
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1136


***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The following paper was published on Nature Biotechnology’s website on November 16 at 2000 London Time (GMT) / 1500 US Eastern Time, so is no longer under embargo. The rest of the material on this press release remains under embargo until Sunday 25 November at 1800 London time (GMT) / 1300 US Eastern Time.***

[31] Endogenous microRNA can be broadly exploited to regulate transgene expression according to tissue, lineage and differentiation state
DOI: 10.1038/nbt1372



The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Toronto: 5

Copenhagen: 3
Kiel: 3
Roskilde: 3

Helsinki: 27

Grenoble: 23
Maison-Alfort: 7

Bayreuth: 23
Dresden: 22
Heidelberg: 10
Mainz: 23
Munich: 13
Regensburg: 22
Stuttgart: 18
Teltow: 2
Tubingen: 7
Ulm: 5

Jerusalem: 22
Ramat Aviv: 22
Rehovot: 18

Bologna: 22, 31
Catanzaro: 15
Cremona: 31
Milan: 31
Modena: 22
Naples: 17
Ozzano Emilia: 31
Pavia: 15
Trieste: 15

Ibaraki: 20
Osaka: 20
Tokyo: 20
Yokohama: 12

Amsterdam: 24

Chernogolovka: 17

Madrid: 9, 12

Basel: 7

Exeter: 6
Liverpool: 7
London: 6, 10, 12
Norwich: 6
Plymouth: 6

Tempe: 1
Phoenix: 1
Berkeley: 21
Duarte: 4
Menlo Park: 23
Richmond: 21
San Diego: 24
San Francisco: 8
Golden: 14
Urbana: 17
Indianapolis: 29
Bethesda: 6, 9, 25
College Park: 28
Frederick: 25
Gaithersburg: 25
Hopkinton: 24
Boston: 11, 13, 26, 30
Cambridge: 11, 13, 16, 18, 27
Westford: 13
New Jersey
Murray Hill: 14
New York
Ithaca: 19
New York: 4, 5, 8, 31
Valhalla: 24
Yorktown Heights: 19
Cleveland: 2
Philadelphia: 24
Pittsburgh: 14
University Park: 7
Houston: 16
Charlottesville: 8, 29
Pullman: 24
Madison: 1


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Published: 25 Nov 2007

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