Research Highlights: Scientists Create Artificial Red Blood Cell

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red bloodcells on white surface
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Scientists Create Artificial Red Blood Cell

  • A group of researchers from University of Mexico, South China University of Technology, and Sandia National Laboratories created an artificial red blood cells that imitates all the abilities of the natural cell.
  • The newly created artificial red blood cells has also been found to have new abilities.
  • Red blood cells take up oxygen in the alveolar capillaries and distribute it around the body.
  • Red blood cells are shaped like a disk and carries millions of hemoglobin which contains iron that binds with oxygen.
  • Red blood cells has a very high flexibility which gives them to the ability to squeeze through the very small capillaries and return back to their original shape.
  • Red blood cells also contain proteins that let them avoid being attacked by the immune system so they can be circulated through blood vessels for a long time.
  • The team wanted to create an artificial red blood cells that can have similar abilities to the natural cells.
  • The newly created cells can perform additional abilities which includes therapeutic drug delivery, magnetic targeting, and detection of toxins.
  • The artificial cells have size, shape, charge, and surface proteins similar to that of natural cells. They can also move through tiny capillaries without losing their shape.
  • The synthetic red blood cell was able to last for at least 48 hours in mice with no detectable toxicity.
  • The team also loaded the artificial cells with cargoes such as hemoglobin, anticancer drugs, toxin detector, and magnetic nano-particles.
  • The artificial cells can also act as a decoy for bacterial toxin.
  • The construction of the artificial cells are based on silica cell bioreplication approach.
  • Other processes for creating the artificial red blood cells include layer-by-layer polymer deposition, and precision silica etching, followed by red blood cell ghost membrane vesicle fusion.
  • The researchers will explore the medical applications of these artificial cells in the future. Cancer therapy and toxin biosensing are potential medical applications of the artificial red blood cells.


Guo, J., Agola, J. O., Serda, R., Franco, S., Lei, Q., Wang, L., Minster, J., Croissant, J. G., Butler, K. S., Zhu, W., & Brinker, C. J. (2020). Biomimetic Rebuilding of Multifunctional Red Blood Cells: Modular Design Using Functional Components. ACS nano14(7), 7847–7859.

Highlights: Three Species of Bird Discovered in Peru

New Scytalopus species from the Peruvian Andes: (upper left) adult male and female of the Jalca tapaculo (Scytalopus frankeae); (upper right) male Jalca tapaculo from Junin; (lower left) adult males of the Ampay tapaculo (Scytalopus whitneyi), left from Apurimac, right from Ayacucho; (lower right) adult male (top) and female (below) of the white-winged tapaculo (Scytalopus krabbei). Photo credit: Jon Fjeldsa. Photo Souce:
  • The team who discovered the new species consists of ornithologists from different countries.
  • Researchers named the three new species Jalca tapaculo (Scytalopus frankeae), Ampay tapaculo (Scytalopus whitneyi), and white-winged tapaculo (Scytalopus krabbei).
  • The new species will be added to the bird genus Scytalopus.
  • The new species was discovered in the Peruvian Andes.
  • Scytalopus are known as the songbirds or perching birds which belongs to the family Rhinocryptidae.
  • The genus typically inhabits the mountains of Central America and the Atlantic Forest. Their variety is greatest in the Andean Mountains.
  • The new species prefer shrubby alpine habitat and the understory forest layer where plants seldom grow to 12 feet. They hide in thick vegetation and are not good in flying.
  • They resist to migrate in another habitat which makes them prone to population isolation.
  • All the three species are endemic in Peru.
  • Researchers discovered the new species by utilizing an integrated framework using a combination of vocal information, DNA sequences, and appearance, collected from their own fieldwork over the past 40 years and supplemented with community-shared birdsong data and museum samples.


Image Gallery: Old Tucson in Arizona

Old Tucson is an American movie studio and theme park just west of Tucson, Arizona, next to the Tucson Mountains and close to the western part of Saguaro National Park. Built in 1939 for the movie Arizona (1940), it has been used for the filming of many movies and television westerns since then, such as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Rio Bravo (1959), El Dorado (1966), and Little House on the Prairie TV series of the 1970s-1980s. It was opened to the public in 1960, and historical tours are offered about the movies filmed there, along with live cast entertainment featuring stunt shows and shootouts.

Old Tucson Estimated Location: 32.217466, -111.130307

Old spanish-era looking structure.

Old Tucson was originally built in 1939 by Columbia Pictures on a Pima County-owned site as a replica of 1860s’ era Tucson for the movie Arizona (1940), starring William Holden and Jean Arthur. Workers built more than 50 buildings in 40 days. Many of those structures are still standing.

The High Chaparral poster.

In 1959, entrepreneur Robert Shelton leased the property from Pima County and began to restore the aging facility. Old Tucson re-opened in 1960, as both a film studio and a theme park. The park grew building by building with each movie filmed on its dusty streets. John Wayne starred in four movies at Old Tucson. Rio Bravo (1959) added a saloon, bank building and doctor’s office; McLintock! (1963) added the McLintock Hotel; El Dorado (1966) brought a renovation of the storefronts on Front Street; and with Rio Lobo (1970) came a cantina, a granite-lined creek, a jail and a ranch house.

The main street in Old Tucson.

On April 24, 1995, a fire destroyed much of Old Tucson Studios. Buildings, costumes and memorabilia were lost in the blaze. Among the memorabilia destroyed was the wardrobe from Little House on the Prairie. Also lost in the blaze was the only copy of a short film about the history of Old Tucson Studios. This film included rare behind the scenes footage of stars, such as William Holden, John Wayne and Angie Dickinson. The Reno, a steam locomotive from the Virginia and Truckee Railroad on static display in the park, was also badly damaged.

In 2011, Old Tucson embarked on a project to build new movie-quality sets that fill out the park, and restore the pre-fire feel of close-together buildings, providing the look and depth of a genuine old west town circa 1865-1900. “After the rebuild of Old Tucson following the 1995 fire, the town just didn’t have the same look and feel,” says Old Tucson CEO and General Manager Pete Mangelsdorf. “We started discussions with Bob Shelton several years ago to develop a plan to fill the empty space in Town Square with movie quality sets that bring the magic back.”

Below are the rest of the images from Old Tucson in Arizona.

Old oil well and water tower.
The main street in Old Tucson.
Inside a saloon in Old Tucson.
Mountains seen north east of Old Tucson.
An old organ in Old Tucson.
A pond in Old Tucson.
Old steam engine in Old Tucson.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral poster in Old Tucson.
Outside view of the Grand Palace Hotel Saloon.
Peak seen east of Old Tucson.
Old elementary school setting in Old Tucson.
Big Jake’s Restaurant in Old Tucson.
Old cemetery setting in Old Tucson.
An old wagon in Old Tucson.
Old dresses in Old Tucson.
Saguaro cactus in Old Tucson.
Old wooden wheel used in the movie “The Alamo” displayed in Old Tucson.
The main street in Old Tucson.
An old stagecoach in Old Tucson.
An old stagecoach in Old Tucson.
Old church setting in Old Tucson.


Images property of Chromoscience.

What are Epithelial Membranes?

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Epithelial Membranes (OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology)

The epithelial membrane is composed of epithelium attached to a layer of connective tissue, for example, your skin. The mucous membrane is also a composite of connective and epithelial tissues. Sometimes called mucosae, these epithelial membranes line the body cavities and hollow passageways that open to the external environment, and include the digestive, respiratory, excretory, and reproductive tracts. Mucous, produced by the epithelial exocrine glands, covers the epithelial layer. The underlying connective tissue, called the lamina propria (literally “own layer”), help support the fragile epithelial layer.

A serous membrane is an epithelial membrane composed of mesodermally derived epithelium called the mesothelium that is supported by connective tissue. These membranes line the coelomic cavities of the body, that is, those cavities that do not open to the outside, and they cover the organs located within those cavities. They are essentially membranous bags, with mesothelium lining the inside and connective tissue on the outside. Serous fluid secreted by the cells of the thin squamous mesothelium lubricates the membrane and reduces abrasion and friction between organs. Serous membranes are identified according locations. Three serous membranes line the thoracic cavity; the two pleura that cover the lungs and the pericardium that covers the heart. A fourth, the peritoneum, is the serous membrane in the abdominal cavity that covers abdominal organs and forms double sheets of mesenteries that suspend many of the digestive organs.

The skin is called the cutaneous membrane. It is a stratified squamous epithelial membrane resting on top of connective tissue. The apical surface of this membrane is exposed to the external environment and is covered with dead, keratinized cells that help protect the body from desiccation and pathogens.


Betts, J. G., Young, K. A., Wise, J. A., Johnson, E., Poe, B., Kruse, D. H., … DeSaix, P. (2013). Anatomy and Physiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at

Common Terms and Definition in Microbiology Laboratory

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Common Terms and Definition in Microbiology Laboratory

Click the drop-down box to reveal answer.

aerosol – a spray of live microbes ejected from sputtering

brightfield microscope – a microscope which the general background or field of view is bright while dense specimens appear darker objects; used for stained materials

capsule – thick layer of substance found on the surface of some bacteria that inhibits phagocytosis by white blood cells

capsule stain – involves the process of negative staining the slide and staining the cytoplasm of the bacteria making the capsule only the colorless structure which appears as a light halo around the bacteria

carbol fuchsin – the primary stain used in acid fast staining

citrate test – detects species of bacteria that survive on citrate as its carbon source

 coagulase – a bacterial enzyme which brings about the coagulation of blood or plasma and is produced by disease-causing forms of staphylococcus

 colony – visible mass of microorganisms originating from a single mother cell

compound microscope – microscope with two magnifying lens

 conclusion – logical judgment or analysis we make from our results

 condenser – lens system in microscope whose function is to focus the light onto the specimen

 conjugation – joining of two bacteria or unicellular organism for the transfer of genetic material by direct cell to cell contact or by bridge like connection called sex pilus

 contamination – the presence of undesirable microorganism that accidentally gets into a culture

 control group – the group in the experiment that does not receive treatment; used to compare how the experimental group do

 controlled variable – the factors in the experiment that we control and keep the same

 crystal violet – primary stain used in Gram staining

 darkfield microscope – creates the effect of a negative image; field of view is dark while cells and other objects are lit up; used to observe live, motile cells

 decolorizer – removes the primary stain from the gram-negative bacteria making it colorless

 dependent variable – the variable being tested, observed, and measured

 differential medium – a medium with diagnostic test built into it that changes color with different species of microbes

 differential staining – procedure that will dye different kinds of bacteria in contrasting color

 double blind – a type of experiment which neither the subjects nor the experimenters know which subjects are in the test and control groups

 electron microscope – a microscope that uses beam of electron rather than beam of light to observe a specimen

 endemic – when a disease prevalence is fairly stable in a location

 epidemic – occurs when a disease is spreading rapidly in a particular population

 ethyl alcohol – the decolorizer used in Gram staining

 fluorescence – the ability of a substance to absorbed UV light and emit back the light as a visible color

 Gram’s iodine – mordant used in Gram staining

 HCG – is a hormone that prevents menstruation from occuring during pregnancy

 Hfr cell – a bacterial cell with conjugative plasmid integrated into its chromosomal DNA

 immunocompromised – means more susceptible to infections

 independent variable – also called the experimental variable; anything that can be changed or manipulated

 lysozyme – an enzyme that dissolves the chemical bond between the NAG and NAM within the backbone of the peptidoglycan molecule in gram-positive bacteria

 malachite green – primary stain in spore staining

 methylene blue – counterstain used in acid fast staining

 microbial hot spots – warm and moist areas where the number of microorganisms is usually the highest

 minimum inhibitory concentration – lowest concentration of drug which prevent visible growth of bacteria

 mordant – a substance which causes the primary stain to become more tightly bound to the cell

 negative stain – a stain which involves staining the background of the slide

 nosocomial infection – infectious disease acquired during hospitalization

 nutrient agar – a general purpose medium that will support growth of many common bacteria

 ocular lens – also called eyepiece; the top lenses of the microscope which you look through

 ocular micrometer – also called the microscopic ruler inscribed into the eyepieces on the microscope

 opsonin – an antibody which binds to foreign microbes making them susceptible to phagocytosis

 pandemic – occurs when a disease is spreading globally or over one continent

 parfocal – means when one lens is focused, the others are also focused

 phase contrast microscope – a microscope that increases the contrast between cells or portions of cells that vary only slightly in density; used to observe unstained bacterial cells

 pour plate – is made by inoculating melted agar with bacteria and then pouring the agar into an empty petri plate to harden, thus the microbes are distributed evenly throughout the agar; creates an evenly distributed lawn of bacteria to be use for phage typing

 pseudopodia – extension of cytoplasm use for movement; also called false feet

pure culture – a medium growing with only one intended species of microorganism

 refraction – the bending of light

 normal flora – microorganisms that live naturally and permanently in various areas of the human body

 resolving power – defined as the closest distance two objects can be where you can still see them as separate objects

 result – refers to the actual data that you collect such as the number of colonies

R-plasmid – is a plasmid in bacteria that contains the antibiotic resistant gene

 Sabouraud agar – medium that are slightly acidic and have extra glucose; also used for fungal growth; used to check fungal spores in the air

 safranin – the counter-stain used in Gram staining

 scanning electron microscope – a microscope that reflects beam of electrons off the exterior of the specimen; produces 3D view of specimen’s surface

 selective medium – a medium that only allows certain species of microbes to grow and inhibits others

 simple microscope – microscope with single magnifying lens

 simple staining – defined as a procedure that stains all cells with the same color

 Snyder test – measures the amount of acid produced by normal flora in a medium containing sugar

 sporadic – occurs when a disease is infrequent and in scattered location

 stage – the platform below the objective lenses of a microscope used to hold the slide

 stage micrometer – term typically referring to a slide that comes with a known scale on its surface

 sterile – a term which means free of bacteria or living things

 streak plate – is performed by spreading an inoculum of bacteria across the surface of an agar plate in such a way as to produce isolated colonies

 Streptococcus mutans – oral bacteria involve with the development dental caries or tooth decay

 super-infection – second infection with microbial agent that is resistant to the treatment used against the first infection

 synthetic medium – medium made from scratch with every single ingredient defined and listed separately

 thermal death point – minimum temperature required to kill a bacteria with a given amount of time

 thermal death time – time required to kill a bacteria at a particular temperature

 transduction – is the process by which foreign DNA is introduced into a cell by a virus or viral vector

 transformation – is a process of horizontal gene transfer by which some bacteria take up foreign genetic material from the environment

 transient flora – microbes that are temporary and can be removed by handwashing

 transport medium – is a medium used to transport microbes from one place to another and limits the overgrowth of microbes


Alderson, Gary D. Microbiology Experiments and Lab Techniques 14th Edition. Palomar College. Fountainhead Press. Accessed November 26, 2019.

When Cancer Cells Express The Wrong Gene

cancer cells
An Ovarian Teratoma: The photo shows a type of tumor that includes teeth at the bottom part of the ovary. This ovarian tumor expressed the wrong gene which results in the formation of teeth at the wrong location. Source:

When Cancer Cells Express The Wrong Gene

An organism is formed based from an architectural blueprint called DNA. In eukaryotes including human cell, the nucleus holds the DNA. Humans contain 46 chromosomes and for each chromosome, DNA is organized into a strand. Each shorter segment of the DNA strand is called genes. This is analogous to organizing a long paragraph into a different clear sentences. Each gene is an instruction to make a protein. Analogically speaking, DNA in eukaryotic cells are like the apps (application software) in mobile phone. If you want to know the current date, you would only access the calendar app and not run the other programs. The same idea applies in eukaryotic DNA. A cell does not express all the gene stored in the nucleus and only express gene that are needed depending on the type of cell. For example, each cell in the human body regardless of where it is located contains the gene to make the hair, skin, teeth, liver, and ovary, but these genes are turned off in the stomach cells. If genes for making the teeth were turned on in the stomach cells, you will have teeth forming in the stomach.


Blankenship-Williams, L. (2015). What You Really Need To Know Before Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology. Carbohydrates and Nucleic Acids. Accessed November 18, 2019.