New study shows that stroke byproduct acrolein activates the precursor of heparanase, an enzyme that degrades the glycocalyx in the blood-brain barrier

The blood–brain barrier prevents immune cells from circulating freely in the brain, and the breakdown of its function is a major cause of post-stroke inflammation. Now, for the first time, researchers have identified how a toxic stroke byproduct, acrolein, could activate the barrier-degrading enzyme proheparanase (proHPSE). The research group has discovered that proHPSE degrades the glycocalyx within the post-stroke brain’s blood vessels, providing hope for new and effective therapeutics against post-stroke inflammation.

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Scientists from Japan and the United States have identified a new mechanism of blood–brain barrier degradation in the post-stroke brain, involving acrolein-induced modifications of proheparanase. This discovery could lead to the production of newer and more effective drugs for stroke-related disorders | Photo courtesy: toubibe from Pixabay

Strokes are a leading cause of…


Scientists develop new biosensing device to chemically monitor the state of muscles during physical exercise

Lactate, a compound present in sweat, is an important biomarker to quantify during exercise. However, available wearable sensors can cause skin irritation, which calls for the use of different materials. In a recent study, scientists at Tokyo University of Science have developed a soft and nonirritating microfluidic sensor for the real-time measurement of lactate concentration in sweat. This wearable device will help monitor the state of the body during intense physical exercise or work.

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It’s important to use non-irritating materials in the design of wearable sensors that are used for quantifying lactate levels during exercise | Photo courtesy: Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

With the seemingly unstoppable advancement in the fields of miniaturization and…


How “elicitors” can initiate defense responses in plants against herbivores, and can potentially lead to development of pesticide-free agriculture

Plants are known to possess solid immune response mechanisms. One such response is “sensing” attack by herbivorous animals. In a new review article, Prof. Arimura from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, discusses “elicitors” — the molecules that initiate plant defense mechanisms against herbivore attack. He highlights the major types of elicitors and the underlying cellular signaling, and states that this could spur research on organic farming practices that could prevent the use of harmful pesticides.

How “elicitors” can initiate defense responses in plants against herbivores, and can potentially lead to development of pesticide-free agriculture
How “elicitors” can initiate defense responses in plants against herbivores, and can potentially lead to development of pesticide-free agriculture
How “elicitors” can initiate defense responses in plants against herbivores, and can potentially lead to development of pesticide-free agriculture

Nature has its way of maintaining…


Scientists reveal peculiar surface structure in materials resembling quasicrystals with interesting implications for its magnetic properties

Ever since their discovery, quasicrystals have garnered much attention due to their strange structure. Today, they remain far from being well-understood. In a new study, scientists reveal, for the first time, a unique shifting surface atomic structure in a material emulating quasicrystals, opening doors to the better understanding of magnetic and superconducting properties of quasicrystals, and potential applications in semiconductor film growth.

The Tsai-type clusters one inside another of the Au-Al-Tb approximant the scientists chose (a), and the corresponding spin
The Tsai-type clusters one inside another of the Au-Al-Tb approximant the scientists chose (a), and the corresponding spin
The Tsai-type clusters one inside another of the Au-Al-Tb approximant the scientists chose (a), and the corresponding spin icosahedra (b). | Photo courtesy: Ryuji Tamura of Tokyo University of Science

Between chemistry classes, gemstones, and electronics, the idea of crystals, substances with an ordered and periodic arrangement of atoms is quite common…


Near-infrared hyperspectral imaging combined with machine learning can visualize tumors in deep tissue and covered by a mucosal layer, scientists show

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors are tumors of the digestive tract that grow underneath the mucus layer covering our organs. Because they are deep inside the tissue, these “submucosal tumors” are difficult to detect and diagnose, even with a biopsy. Now, researchers from Japan have developed a novel minimally invasive and accurate method using infrared imaging and machine learning to distinguish between normal tissue and tumor areas. This technique has a strong potential for widespread clinical use.

Tumors can be damaging…


Scientists in Japan reveal how optimizing the structure of porphyrin derivatives can help improve drug delivery to cancer cells

Porphyrins are interesting drug delivery vehicles that can specifically accumulate in cancer cells. However, how the structure of the drug-conjugated porphyrin affects its ability to penetrate and accumulate within cancer cells is not well understood. Researchers from Tokyo University of Science now investigate the correlation between the structure and tumor accumulation of porphyrin derivatives. Their findings can help to optimize drug delivery, possibly advancing cancer treatment.

Scientists in Japan reveal how optimizing the structure of porphyrin derivatives can help improve drug delivery to cells
Scientists in Japan reveal how optimizing the structure of porphyrin derivatives can help improve drug delivery to cells
Cancer cells can be selectively targeted, using biocompatible delivery systems like porphyrins, but how their structure affects their permeability and accumulation into the cells is now well studied yet | Photo courtesy: kjpargeter on Freepik

The main culprit in cancer is healthy cells that have gone rogue and acquire the…


Scientists modified “mesenchymal stem cells” to carry anti-cancer drugs and deliver them to target cancers

Targeting drugs to cancer tissues is a major challenge in cancer treatment. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are known for their ability to find and target tumor cells in the body, but using MSCs for drug delivery has been tricky, because upon loading with drugs, MSCs lose their viability and migratory ability. Now, researchers from Tokyo University of Science have successfully modified MSCs to deliver large quantities of anti-cancer drugs in a targeted manner to developing cancer cells.

As humans evolve, cancer also evolves in…


Researchers at Tokyo University of Science devise a new electrochemical technology to manufacture ammonia-based fertilizer from urea

From the perspective of future societies, in extremely closed environments such as a space station, self-sufficiency in food cultivation and waste management is critical. However, the technology to achieve this is still lacking. In a new study, scientists from Japan shed light on their most recent breakthrough: a cheap and efficient method to make liquid fertilizer (ammonia) from simplified artificial urine, serving an ideal dual purpose of growing food and treating waste.

Manuring with man urine: researchers from Japan electrochemically create ammonia from urine to grow plants in space
Manuring with man urine: researchers from Japan electrochemically create ammonia from urine to grow plants in space
Manuring with man urine: researchers from Japan electrochemically create ammonia from urine to grow plants in space | Photo courtesy: Freepik

In extreme environments, even the most ordinary tasks can seem like…


New sodium-storing electrode material for rechargeable batteries with unprecedented energy density

Today, most rechargeable batteries are lithium-ion batteries, which are made from relatively scarce elements — this calls for the development of batteries using alternative materials. In a new study, scientists from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, find an energy-efficient method to fabricate a hard carbon electrode with enormously high sodium storage capacity. This could pave the way for next-generation sodium-ion batteries made with inexpensive and abundant materials, and having a higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries.

New sodium-storing electrode material for rechargeable batteries with unprecedented energy density
New sodium-storing electrode material for rechargeable batteries with unprecedented energy density
The higher capacity of this new hard carbon electrode material means that a 19% increase in energy density by weight is possible in sodium-ion batteries compared with lithium-ion batteries | Image courtesy: Shinichi Komaba from Tokyo University of Science

Cost-effective rechargeable batteries are at the heart of virtually all portable electronic devices…


Scientists investigate oxidative reactions in ytterbium silicide, a heat-resistant coating, to improve heat efficiency in aircraft gas turbine engines

Ytterbium silicide (Yb–Si) is a promising coating material for the high-temperature sections of aircraft gas turbine engines. Although Yb–Si is heat-resistant and prevents formation of structurally harmful SiO2 in the coating, its oxidation mechanisms are unclear. In a recent study, scientists from Japan demonstrate how the Yb to Si ratio in the material, and the surrounding atmosphere, affect the oxidation processes in Yb–Si, opening doors to more energy efficient gas turbines.

Finding safe and long-lasting heat-resistant material for the high-temperature parts of aircraft gas turbine engines.
Finding safe and long-lasting heat-resistant material for the high-temperature parts of aircraft gas turbine engines.
Finding safe and long-lasting heat-resistant material for the high-temperature parts of aircraft gas turbine engines is key to building better aircraft | Photo courtesy: Robert Bye on Unsplash

Certain sections of aero gas-turbine engines, which are widely used…

Tokyo University of Science

Tokyo University of Science (TUS) is one of the most well-known, respected, and the largest science-specialized private research universities in Japan.

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