Embedding sensors on balloon catheters

Summaries of newsworthy papers - Medicine: Minimally invasive diagnosis of Down syndrome; Genetics: Variants associated with heart disease; Methods: A simple pluripotency test for human stem cells; Chemical Biology: TB in view; Genetics: Variant associated with high risk of sick sinus syndrome; And finally…Biotechnology: Biofuels from proteins


For papers that will be published online on 06 March 2011

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

This press release contains:

Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Materials: Embedding sensors on balloon catheters
Medicine: Minimally invasive diagnosis of Down syndrome
Genetics: Variants associated with heart disease
Methods: A simple pluripotency test for human stem cells
Chemical Biology: TB in view
Genetics: Variant associated with high risk of sick sinus syndrome
And finally…Biotechnology: Biofuels from proteins

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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[1] Materials: Embedding sensors on balloon catheters
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2971

The development of biocompatible materials that integrate sensory technologies directly into the thin membranes of balloon catheters — used in heart surgery to eliminate blockage in blood vessels — is presented in a study in rats published online this week in Nature Materials. These balloon catheters could be used as a less invasive surgical tool in humans, providing information about lesion depth, blood flow or localized temperature, as well as deliver cardiac therapy.

A key challenge in creating advanced surgical tools is combining useful computer chips and sensory technologies in a material that is compatible with soft surfaces of the body’s internal organs. The information recorded by such materials could be critical during laborious surgeries, cutting short open-heart surgeries and helping to decrease morbidity rate.

John A. Rogers and colleagues used balloon catheters outfitted with a stretchable, interconnected network of electrodes and sensors to measure cardiac temperature, blood flow and electrophysiological data during rat cardiac operations. The authors then used radiofrequency electrodes embedded on the balloon catheters to administer controlled, local, ablation therapy — the creation of lesions in the heart to cure or control certain heart problems.

Author contact:
John A. Rogers (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 217 244 4979; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Medicine: Minimally invasive diagnosis of Down syndrome
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2312

A method to diagnose Down syndrome prenatally from the mother’s blood, thereby minimizing the risks associated with amniocentesis and other methods in clinical use, is presented in an article published online this week in Nature Medicine.

In Down syndrome, there are three copies of chromosome 21, called trisomy-21, instead of the normal two. Taking advantage of differences in the DNA methylation patterns—which are important to control gene expression—between mother and fetus, Philippos Patsalis and his colleagues developed a new method to detect extra copies of a fetal chromosome in maternal blood. The application of this approach allowed the authors to correctly diagnose 14 trisomy-21 cases and 26 normal fetuses, highlighting its potential clinical utility.

Author contact:
Philippos Patsalis (The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Nicosia, Cyprus)
Tel: +357 22393600; E-mail: [email protected]

[3], [4] & [5] Genetics: Variants associated with heart disease
DOI: 10.1038/ng.784
DOI: 10.1038/ng.782
DOI: 10.1038/ng.783

Three independent studies in this week’s issue of Nature Genetics report genetic variants associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).

Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, causing approximately 12% of all death. CAD is a condition caused by the narrowing of blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygenated blood.

Heribert Schunkert and colleagues performed an analysis of over 100,000 Europeans and identified 13 new genetic risk loci for CAD. In a second study, the Coronary Artery Disease Genetics Consortium report an analysis of 71,075 Europeans and South Asians and identified five loci newly associated with CAD. And finally, Qing K. Wang and colleagues analyzed 7,593 individuals of Han Chinese ancestry and identified one locus on chromosome 6q24.1 that was associated with CAD.

Author contacts:
Heribert Schunkert (Universität zu Lübeck, Germany) Author paper [3]
Tel: +49 451 500 2501; E-mail: [email protected]

Hugh Watkins (University of Oxford, UK) Author paper [4]
Tel: +44 1865 234657; E-mail: [email protected]

Qing Kenneth Wang (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China) Author paper [5]
Tel: +86 2787794549; E-mail: [email protected]

[6] Methods: A simple pluripotency test for human stem cells
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1580

A simple method to test whether any particular human stem cell line is pluripotent is published online this week in Nature Methods. This methodology should allow for a more standardized assessment of pluripotency in the ever-growing number of human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell lines.

Human pluripotent stem cells can, in principle, generate any human cell type and are thus exciting both for basic research and for medicine. Mouse stem cell lines can be tested for pluripotency by assessing their ability to build any body part of a mouse. Such a test is ethically impossible in the human; human cells are therefore functionally tested using surrogate, and inevitably less stringent, assays.

Franz-Josef Müller and colleagues now report a bioinformatics-based test for pluripotency in human stem cells. They use large datasets of gene expression patterns in known human pluripotent cell lines to design an algorithm that can distinguish between pluripotent and nonpluripotent cells. This algorithm, and the accompanying publically available web-based software tool, PluriTest, can be used by researchers to predict whether their own human cell line of interest is likely to be pluripotent.

Author contact:
Franz-Josef Müller (Zentrum für Integrative Psychiatrie, Kiel, Germany)
Tel: +1 617 335 7330; E-mail: [email protected]

[7] Chemical Biology: TB in view
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.539

A fluorescent tagging technique can allow the M. tuberculosis bacteria to be studied during infection of human cells with tuberculosis. These findings, reported in Nature Chemical Biology, could enhance further research on and treatment of this deadly pathogen.

Treating and preventing tuberculosis remains a significant medical challenge, particularly in developing nations. The lack of high-quality tuberculosis-specific probes for use in diagnosis and to monitor response to treatment has particularly hindered advances.

M. tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, inserts a particular sugar residue – trehalose – into its cell wall during normal growth. This process is controlled by one of three enzymes, named Ag85A, Ag85B, and Ag85C.

Benjamin Davis, Clifton Barry and colleagues now show that, by studying the flexibility of the active site of these three enzymes, they can insert derivatives of trehalose containing fluorescent dyes into the M. tuberculosis cell wall. These dyes allow the detection of the bacteria within infected human cells enabling diagnosis of infection. The team hopes that it will lead to further research on the pathogen.

Author contacts:
Ben Davis (University of Oxford, UK)
Tel: +44 1865 275 652; E-mail: [email protected]

Clifton Barry (NIAID-NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 301 435 7509; E-mail: [email protected]

[8] Genetics: Variant associated with high risk of sick sinus syndrome
DOI: 10.1038/ng.781

A genetic variant in the gene MYH6 is associated with high risk of sick sinus syndrome (SSS) reports a study published online this week in Nature Genetics. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with SSS is 6% for individuals without this genetic variant, but is approximately 50% in individuals with it.

Sick sinus syndrome (SSS), is a collection of heart rhythm disorders, including slow heart rate, fast heart rate, and alternating slow and fast heart rates. It is a condition commonly seen in the elderly and most people with SSS eventually need a permanent pacemaker.

Hilma Holm and colleagues performed whole-genome sequencing on 7 Icelanders with SSS and 80 Icelanders not diagnosed with SSS, and performed a genome-wide association study on 792 Icelanders with SSS and 37,592 Icelander controls. They report a genetic variant in the MYH6 gene that is associated with high risk of SSS.

Author contact:
Hilma Holm (deCode Genetics, Reykjavik, Iceland)
Tel: +354 5702830; E-mail: [email protected]

[9] And finally…Biotechnology: Biofuels from proteins
DOI: 10.1038/ nbt.1799

Engineered bacteria that can synthesize biofuels from proteins are presented in a paper published online this week in Nature Biotechnology. Though the technology is not ready for commercial use, it could provide a solution to present limitations in biofuel production.

Current biofuels are generated from plant carbohydrates or lipids but not proteins, in part because biofuel-producing microorganisms conserve proteins to use for growth.

James Liao and colleagues overcome this problem by changing metabolic pathways in E. coli. The engineered bacteria are able to efficiently remove nitrogen groups from amino acids—the building blocks of proteins—to produce alcohols, which in turn are converted into biofuels. Proteins are potentially attractive molecules to turn into fuels because proteins are produced as byproducts from current industrial processes and because proteins are more abundant than carbohydrates or lipids in some organisms such as microalgae.

Author contact:
James Liao (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 310 825 1656; E-mail: [email protected]

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

NATURE CELL BIOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/naturecellbiology)

[10] A tetrapyrrole-regulated ubiquitin ligase controls algal nuclear DNA replication
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2203

[11] Drosophila katanin is a microtubule depolymerase that regulates cortical-microtubule plus-end interactions and cell migration
DOI: 10.1038/ncb2206

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

[12] Characterization of a selective inhibitor of the Parkinson’s disease kinase LRRK2
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.538

NATURE CHEMISTRY (http://www.nature.com/nchem)

[13] Gradient-driven motion of multivalent ligand molecules along a surface functionalized with multiple receptors
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1005

[14] Protecting group and switchable pore-discriminating adsorption properties of a hydrophilic–hydrophobic metal–organic framework
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1003

[15] Dihydrogen contacts in alkanes are subtle but not faint
DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1004

NATURE GENETICS (http://www.nature.com/naturegenetics)

[16] Mutations in NOTCH2 cause Hajdu-Cheney syndrome, a disorder of severe and progressive bone loss
DOI: 10.1038/ng.779

[17] Truncating mutations in the last exon of NOTCH2 cause a rare skeletal disorder with osteoporosis
DOI: 10.1038/ng.778

NATURE IMMUNOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/natureimmunology)

[18] The transcription factors Blimp-1 and IRF4 jointly control the differentiation and function of effector regulatory T cells
DOI: 10.1038/ni.2006

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

[19] Mapping of signalling networks through synthetic genetic interaction analysis by RNAi
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1581

NATURE NANOTECHNOLOGY (http://www.nature.com/nnano)

[20] A high-throughput label-free nanoparticle analyser

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

[21] Optical quantal analysis of synaptic transmission in wild-type and rab3-mutant Drosophila motor axons
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2767

[22] Orthogonal representation of sound dimensions in the primate midbrain
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2771

[23] Exocytosis at the hair cell ribbon synapse apparently operates without neuronal SNARE proteins
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2774

[24] A novel neuroprotective role for polyamines in a Xenopus tadpole model of epilepsy
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2777

[25] Presynaptic CLC-3 determines quantal size of inhibitory transmission in the hippocampus
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2775

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

[26] Observation of the inverse Doppler effect in negative-index materials at optical frequencies
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.17

[27] Exciton–polariton light–semiconductor coupling effects
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.15

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

[28] Random walks with barriers
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1936

[29] Consistent model of magnetism in ferropnictides
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1933

[30] Separating stretching from folding in fluid mixing
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1941

[31] Probing collective multi-electron dynamics in xenon with high-harmonic spectroscopy
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1940

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

[32] An effect of DNA sequence on nucleosome occupancy and removal
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2017

[33] How mutations in tRNA distant from the anticodon affect the fidelity of decoding
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2003

[34] The structural basis for MCM2–7 helicase activation by GINS and Cdc45
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2004

[35] Structure of the VP16 transactivator target in the Mediator
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1999

[36] Structure and VP16 binding of the Mediator Med25 activator interaction domain
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1997

[37] Allosteric control of ligand-binding affinity using engineered conformation-specific effector proteins
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2002


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.

Melbourne: 18
Parkville: 18
Victoria: 26

Graz: 3
Vienna: 18

Leuven: 3

Sao Paula: 16

Hamilton: 3, 4
Montreal: 3, 33
Ottawa: 3, 31
Quebec: 3, 4, 31

Dalian: 5
Harbin: 5
Narchang: 26
Shandong: 5
Shanghai: 26
Wuhan: 5

Nicosia: 2

Roskilde: 8

Helsinki: 3, 4
Tampere: 3

Dijon: 17
Evry: 4
Illkirch: 17
Le Mans: 17
Lille: 16
Montpellier: 23
Nantes: 17
Paris: 3, 17
Strasbourg: 17

Aachen: 6
Berlin: 6, 34, 35
Bonn: 3
Garching: 36
Goettingen: 23
Hamburg: 6
Hannover: 23
Heidelberg: 3, 19, 36
Juelich: 3
Kiel: 3
Lubeck: 3, 6
Mainz: 3
Marburg: 27
Munich: 3, 36
Munster: 3, 4, 36
Neuherberg: 3, 36
Regensburg: 3
Rendsburg: 3

Athens: 2, 3, 4

Kopavogur: 3
Reykjavik: 3, 8

Jerusalem: 15
Tel-Aviv: 3

Milan: 3
Milano: 3, 4
Parma: 3
Santa Maria Imbaro: 4
Verona: 3

Chiba: 10
Tokyo: 10, 35

Amsterdam: 3, 4
Enschede: 13
Leiden: 3
Nijmegen: 8
Rotterdam: 3

Auckland: 16
Dunedin: 3, 16

Hyderabad: 4
Karachi: 4
Lahore: 4
Multan: 4

Singapore: 1

Barcelona: 3, 15

Ljubljana: 23

Malmo: 3
Solna: 4
Stockholm: 3, 4
Uppsala: 4

Lausanne: 17
Zurich: 31

Cardiff: 3
Cambridge: 2, 3, 4, 33
Dundee: 12
Edinburgh: 14
Headington: 4
Hinxton: 4
Leeds: 3
Leicester: 3, 4
London: 3, 4, 16
Middlesex: 4
Newcastle: 14, 22
Oxford: 4, 7, 16, 36
Southampton: 3
St Andrews: 14
Surrey: 4


Tucson: 1, 11, 27

Berkeley: 3, 21, 34
La Jolla: 6, 12, 20
Los Angeles: 3
Menlo Park: 3
Oakland: 3
Palo Alto: 3
Santa Barbara: 20
Stanford: 3

New Haven: 30

District of Columbia
Washington: 3

Coral Gables: 1

Atlanta: 3

Evanston: 1
Chicago: 16, 25, 27
Urbana: 1

Ames: 29

Manhattan: 31

Baltimore: 3
Bethesda: 3, 7

Amherst: 11
Boston: 1, 3, 12, 25
Cambridge: 1, 3
Framingham: 3

Ann Arbor: 4

Minneapolis: 3

Kansas City: 3

Lincoln: 29

New York
New York: 6, 11, 28, 32

North Carolina
Chapel Hill: 11

Cleveland: 3

King of Prussia: 3
Philadelphia: 1, 3

Rhode Island
Providence: 24

South Carolina
Charleston: 28

Nashville: 3, 8

Houston: 3

Salt Lake City: 3

Seattle: 3

Madison: 16


For media inquiries relating to embargo policy for all the Nature Research Journals:

Rachel Twinn (Nature London)
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]

Neda Afsarmanesh (Nature New York)
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: [email protected]

Ruth Francis (Head of Press, Nature, London)
Tel: +44 20 7843 4562; E-mail: [email protected]

For media inquiries relating to editorial content/policy for the Nature Research Journals, please contact the journals individually:

Nature Biotechnology (New York)
Michael Francisco
Tel: +1 212 726 9288; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Cell Biology (London)
Sowmya Swaminathan
Tel: +44 20 7843 4656; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Chemical Biology (Boston)
Carrie Meggs
Tel: +1 617 475 9241, E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Chemistry (London)
Stuart Cantrill
Tel: +44 20 7014 4018; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Genetics (New York)
Myles Axton
Tel: +1 212 726 9324; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Geoscience (London)
Heike Langenberg
Tel: +44 20 7843 4042; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Immunology (New York)
Laurie Dempsey
Tel: +1 212 726 9372; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Materials (London)
Vincent Dusastre
Tel: +44 20 7843 4531; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Medicine (New York)
Juan Carlos Lopez
Tel: +1 212 726 9325; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Methods (New York)
Hugh Ash
Tel: +1 212 726 9627; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Nanotechnology (London)
Peter Rodgers
Tel: +44 20 7014 4019; Email: [email protected]

Nature Neuroscience (New York)
Kalyani Narasimhan
Tel: +1 212 726 9319; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Photonics (Tokyo)
Oliver Graydon
Tel: +81 3 3267 8776; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Physics (London)
Alison Wright
Tel: +44 20 7843 4555; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (New York)
Sabbi Lall
Tel: +1 212 726 9326; E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 07 Mar 2011

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