Hersam named fellow of the American Chemical Society
SQI member Mark Hersam is one of 49 members of the American Chemical Society (ACS) who has recently been named an ACS fellow. The fellows program, started in 2009, recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to science, the profession, and the ACS.
Hersam is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and the director of the Materials Research Center at Northwestern.
COVID-19 PCR tests can be freeze dried
Northwestern University researchers led by SQI member Michael Jewett have discovered that commercially available polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests can withstand the freeze-drying process, making them shelf-stable for up to 30 days and 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) without sacrificing sensitivity and accuracy.
The new strategy could help ease logistical challenges, making the “gold standard” tests for COVID-19 more available to help schools, businesses and sporting events safely reopen. It also could be a particularly powerful option for low-resource settings that lack access to reliable electricity and refrigeration.
Untangling cellular changes in pediatric epilepsy
For the first time, scientists have characterized how a mutation in the gene KCNQ2, associated with pediatric epilepsy, affects human neuron activity. The findings suggest early therapy could be helpful but further research is still required, according to SQI faculty member Evangelos Kiskinis, the co-corresponding author of the study.
“If our hypothesis is correct, one would need to initiate treatment early,” Kiskinis said. “Now, we’re thinking of ways to take this forward.”
Superstructures formed by ‘walking’ molecules could help create neurons for regenerative medicine
Researchers led by SQI director Samuel Stupp have demonstrated that biomaterials composed of “superstructured” nanofibers can enhance neuron growth, an important finding that could have implications for treating spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Now that the team has applied a proof of concept to neurons, Stupp believes he could break into other areas of regenerative medicine by applying different chemical sequences to the 3D-printable material. This work was published in the journal Advanced Science and supported by SQI’s Center for Regenerative Nanomedicine.
Shelf-stable vaccines avoid waste, expand access
SQI faculty member Michael Jewett and colleagues have developed a new manufacturing platform that can quickly make vaccines at the point of care, ensuring they will not go to waste due to transportation or storage issues and expanding access to potentially life-saving medications.
The new method uses cell-free components that are freeze-dried, remaining shelf-stable for six months or longer. Once the cell-free systems reach their destination and are ready for use, health care workers can rehydrate them with a single drop of water to make the vaccine on demand.
Hsu named among spine surgeon leaders by Becker’s Healthcare
SQI faculty member Wellington Hsu has been recognized by Becker’s Spine Review as one of 10 “spine surgeon leaders to know for 2021." Hsu’s clinical practice focuses on minimally invasive procedures to treat spinal disorders, and his SQI research involves developing novel biomaterials for bone regeneration.