- Published on 23 October 2019
Experiments and statistical models reveal that the recently developed cancer drug Pixantrone forces itself inside the double helix structure of DNA molecules, then shrinks their backbones.
Because of the harmful side-effects of chemotherapy, and the increasing resistance to drugs found in many cancer cells, it is critical for researchers to continually search for new ways to update current cancer treatments. Recently, a drug named Pixantrone (PIX) was developed, which is far less damaging to the heart than previous, less advanced compounds. PIX is now used to treat cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukaemia, but a detailed knowledge of the molecular processes it uses to destroy cancer cells has been lacking so far. In a new study published in EPJ E, Marcio Rocha and colleagues at the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil uncovered the molecular mechanisms involved in PIX’s interactions with cancer DNA in precise detail. They found that the drug first forces itself between the strands of the DNA molecule’s double helix, prising them apart; then compacts the structures by partially neutralising their phosphate backbones.
- Published on 21 October 2019
The deflation of beach balls, squash balls and other common objects offers a good model for distortion in microscopic hollow spheres. This can help us understand the properties of some cells and, potentially, develop new drug delivery mechanisms.
Many natural microscopic objects – red blood cells and pollen grains, for example – take the form of distorted spheres. The distortions can be compared to those observed when a sphere is ‘deflated’; so that it steadily loses internal volume. Until now, most of the work done to understand the physics involved has been theoretical. Now, however, Gwennou Coupier and his colleagues at Grenoble Alps University, France have shown that macroscopic-level models of the properties of these tiny spheres agree very well with this theory. The new study, which has implications for targeted drug delivery, was recently published in EPJ E.
- Published on 18 September 2019
Electrical stimulation of early chicken embryos has shed light on the process through which the limbs of all vertebrates are formed.Every vertebrate, whatever its eventual form, starts embryonic life in the same way – as a hollow ball or disc of cells called a blastula. In theory, knowing the mechanism through which the blastula is formed into the shape of an animal could help correct defects and even, one day, regenerate body parts. But evolution and genetics are of little help in understanding this process. Now, however, Vincent Fleury and Ameya Vaishnavi Murukutla from Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France have used experiments with chicken embryos to propose a mechanism for vertebrate limb formation. These findings have been published in the journal EPJ E.
EPJ E Topical review - Liquid-liquid criticality in the dielectric constant and refractive index: A perspective
- Published on 27 August 2019
The critical region in the phase diagram of condensed matter systems such as fluids or fluid mixtures is characterized by the anomalous behaviour of specific thermodynamic properties. In a new review article published in EPJE, Patricia Losada-Pérez (Department of Physics, Université Libre de Bruxelles) describes recent progress in the understanding of the behaviour of two intimately related properties, the dielectric constant ε and the refractive index n, when approaching the liquid-liquid critical point in binary liquid mixtures.
- Published on 24 July 2019
Computer simulations reveal how groups of bubbles with two different areas can be optimised to minimise the lengths of the edges at which they touch, potentially allowing for stronger, cheaper structures which emulate bubbly foams.
While structures which emulate foam-like arrangements of bubbles are lightweight and cheap to build, they are also remarkably stable. The bubbles which cover the iconic Beijing Aquatics Centre, for example, each have the same volume, but are arranged in a way which minimises the total area of the structure – optimising the building’s construction. The mathematics underlying this behaviour is now well understood, but if the areas of the bubbles are not equal, the situation becomes more complicated. Ultimately, this makes it harder to make general statements about how the total surface area or, in 2D, edge length, or ‘perimeter’, can be minimised to optimise structural stability. In new research published in EPJ E, Francis Headley and Simon Cox at Aberystwyth University in the UK explore how different numbers of 2D bubbles of two different areas can be arranged within circular discs, in ways which minimise their perimeters.
- Published on 15 July 2019
Numerical simulations of the thermodiffusion effect within falling film absorbers reveal that thin films composed of liquid mixtures with negative thermodiffusion coefficients enhance the efficiency of heat recycling
Absorption heat transformers can effectively reuse the waste heat generated in various industries. In these devices, specialised liquids form thin films as they flow downward due to gravity. These liquid films can absorb vapour, and the heat is then extracted by a coolant so that it can be used in future processes. So far, however, there has been little research into how the performance of these films is influenced by the thermodiffusion effect – a behaviour seen in mixtures, where different types of mixture respond differently to the same temperature gradient. In a study recently published in EPJ E, researchers from the Fluid Mechanics group at Mondragon University and Tecnalia in Spain, led by M. M. Bou-Ali at Mondragon University, pooled their expertise in transport phenomena and absorption technology. Together, they explored for the first time the influence of the thermodiffusion property on the absorption, temperature and concentration profiles of falling films.
- Published on 11 July 2019
Diffusive processes are ubiquitous in daily life and in natural processes, playing a key role in the transformation and mixing of fluid mixtures, and there is considerable scientific and industrial interest in such mixing processes. One consequence of diffusion is the development of non-equilibrium fluctuations in liquid mixtures, particularly when fluids are exposed to a thermal gradient. This is easier to observe in weightlessness, as gravity dampens this phenomenon on Earth especially for large fluctuations.
- Published on 28 June 2019
Active fluids are living matter or biologically inspired systems, consisting of self-propelled units that burn stored or ambient energy and turn it into work, eventually giving rise to systematic movement. In a new Topical Review paper published in EPJE, authors from groups in Bari (University of Bari, INFN, and the Istituto Applicazioni Calcolo, CNR) and the Center for Life Nano Science, La Sapienza, Rome describe the use of Lattice Boltzmann Methods (LBM) in the study of large scale properties of active fluids.
- Published on 04 June 2019
Hydrocarbons trapped within porous media are easier to model with computer simulations than researchers previously assumed – a discovery that opens up new possibilities for thermodynamics research.
Hidden deep below our feet, petroleum reservoirs are made up of hydrocarbons like oil and natural gas, stored within porous rock. These systems are particularly interesting to physicists, as they clearly show how temperature gradients between different regions affect the gradients of fluid pressures and compositions. However, because these reservoirs are so hard to access, researchers can only model them using data from a few sparse points, meaning many of their properties can only be guessed at. In a new study published in EPJ E, physicists from France and Vietnam, led by Guillaume Galliero at the University of Pau, have found that this guesswork actually isn’t necessary. They show that if the right choices are made when constructing models, no assumptions are needed in order to calculate the impact of temperature gradients on pressure and composition gradients.
- Published on 03 June 2019
The orientation of the ordered molecules that make up nematic liquid crystals can change under electric fields, and can be used to detect subtle electrical effects.
You may not know it, but you probably spend several hours a day looking at nematic liquid crystals; they are used in virtually every smartphone, computer and TV screen. They are liquids composed of elongated molecules, which in some situations can be oriented in a curious way termed the 'dowser texture', which is sensitive to external conditions. Physicists Pawel Pieranski of the Universite Paris-Sud, Paris, France and Maria Helena Godinho of Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal have now published a paper in EPJ E that shows that the dowser texture responds to electric fields in different ways in different nematic materials.