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Ten things A*STAR researchers revealed in 2018

5 Mar 2019

As we look forward to the rest of 2019, let us look at some of the amazing things A*STAR researchers unearthed in 2018.

1.     A polymer to fight superbugs

Bioengineers developed a polymer to fight multidrug resistant bacteria, sometimes known as superbugs. The polymer could be the answer to the global antibiotic crisis. Read more.

One way of treating resistant bacteria is with antimicrobial peptides. Here, one kills a bacterium by penetrating its membrane: a micelle forms in the bacterial cell membrane and the cell is punctured. By contrast, Yi Yan Yang’s new polymer moves through the cell membrane and condenses the contents inside, killing the cell. The latter strategy may help prevent the release of dangerous endotoxins from the punctured bacteria cells.

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2.     A system to predict what happens next in videos

A detector program called ‘YoTube uses deep learning techniques to predict future human actions in videos. YoTube outperformed state-of-the-art detectors in videos showing everyday activities and sports. Read more.

3.     How to make blood on an industrial scale

A key signalling pathway could allow the preparation and sustenance of billions of stem-cell derived red blood cells, A*STAR researchers found. While a single blood donation still represents trillions of red blood cells, this is a step towards solving supply shortages and resolving transmissible infections. Read more.

A*STAR researchers are getting close to growing huge numbers of red blood cells in industrial-grade vats.

© 2018 A*STAR Bioprocessing Technology Institute

4.     Fat isn’t linked to inflammation in the way we thought

It was thought that the protein, TLR4, sensed particular types of fats as well as infections – linking obesity and inflammation. A team showed that dietary fatty acids cannot interact directly with TLR4, overturning that theory. Read more.

5.      Unique skin disease genes in Asian populations

In an Asian study cohort, A*STAR researchers found 51 chronic skin disease-causing mutations that were undetectable by existing screening methods (which usually target mutations found in Northern European Caucasian populations). A*STAR’s new test has already been used by US and UK researchers studying minorities. Read more.

6.      A model for smell absorption by food packaging

In collaboration with the Coca-Cola Company in the USA, researchers mathematically modeled the absorption of smell by food packaging to help reduce flavor loss. Read more.

7.     A new hunger-zone brain region

A brain region called the tuberal nucleus was found to affect appetite in mice when activated. This will allow new strategies to be developed for treating eating disorders. Read more.

8.     How to make a teeny antenna manipulate light

A hybrid nanoantenna is the first to precisely control light-wave direction, while limiting interfering radiation leakage, which could improve high-resolution imaging systems in small mobile devices. Read more.

9.     White blood cells maintaining blood-vessel thickness

Macrophages in the outer arterial walls help to regulate collagen, A*STAR researchers found. Mice depleted of these white blood cells developed thicker blood vessels with reduced elasticity. Read more.

10.   A green tea wrapping to deliver drugs to tumors

Wrapping an anticancer drug in a nanoscale case made of a polymer and a green tea component can bring high doses of the drug to tumors. These micelles have been used to inhibit liver tumors in mice. Read more.

2018: A big year for A*STAR collaborations

Last year saw many milestones for A*STAR partnerships. A range of joint projects was launched with heavy-hitting companies, such as the multinational accounting firm KPMG, Singapore Airlines, and Japanese technology company, Fujitsu. The Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) collaboration celebrated a decade of studying 1,200 mother-baby pairs and giving myriad insights into how conditions in pregnancy and early childhood influence health outcomes. And a 15,000-square-foot Model Factory opened at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre as an industry testbed for new manufacturing technologies. These are the seeds of plenty of interesting outcomes in 2019, and beyond.

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This article was made for A*STAR Research by Nature Research Custom Media, part of Springer Nature