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The open access journal Research, published in association with CAST, publishes innovative, wide-ranging research in life sciences, physical sciences, engineering and applied science.
Research's Editorial Board includes international experts in fields ranging from life sciences to physical sciences. Tianhong Cui of University of Minnesota and Wei Huang of Northwestern Polytechnical University, China serve as the Editors-in-Chief of the journal.
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Platelet Membrane-Coated Nanocarriers Targeting Plaques to Deliver Anti-CD47 Antibody for Atherosclerotic Therapy
Atherosclerosis, the principle cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) worldwide, is mainly characterized by the pathological accumulation of diseased vascular cells and apoptotic cellular debris. Atherogenesis is associated with the upregulation of CD47, a key antiphagocytic molecule that is known to render malignant cells resistant to programmed cell removal, or “efferocytosis.” Here, we have developed platelet membrane-coated mesoporous silicon nanoparticles (PMSN) as a drug delivery system to target atherosclerotic plaques with the delivery of an anti-CD47 antibody. Briefly, the cell membrane coat prolonged the circulation of the particles by evading the immune recognition and provided an affinity to plaques and atherosclerotic sites. The anti-CD47 antibody then normalized the clearance of diseased vascular tissue and further ameliorated atherosclerosis by blocking CD47. In an atherosclerosis model established in ApoE−/− mice, PMSN encapsulating anti-CD47 antibody delivery significantly promoted the efferocytosis of necrotic cells in plaques. Clearing the necrotic cells greatly reduced the atherosclerotic plaque area and stabilized the plaques reducing the risk of plaque rupture and advanced thrombosis. Overall, this study demonstrated the therapeutic advantages of PMSN encapsulating anti-CD47 antibodies for atherosclerosis therapy, which holds considerable promise as a new targeted drug delivery platform for efficient therapy of atherosclerosis.
Cross-Scale Synthesis of Organic High- Semiconductors Based on Spiro-Gridized Nanopolymers
High dielectric constants in organic semiconductors have been identified as a central challenge for the improvement in not only piezoelectric, pyroelectric, and ferroelectric effects but also photoelectric conversion efficiency in OPVs, carrier mobility in OFETs, and charge density in charge-trapping memories. Herein, we report an ultralong persistence length ( nm) effect of spiro-fused organic nanopolymers on dielectric properties, together with excitonic and charge carrier behaviors. The state-of-the-art nanopolymers, namely, nanopolyspirogrids (NPSGs), are synthesized via the simple cross-scale Friedel-Crafts polygridization of A2B2-type nanomonomers. The high dielectric constant () of NPSG is firstly achieved by locking spiro-polygridization effect that results in the enhancement of dipole polarization. When doping into a polystyrene-based dielectric layer, such a high- feature of NPSG increases the field-effect carrier mobility from 0.20 to 0.90 cm2 V-1 s-1 in pentacene OFET devices. Meanwhile, amorphous NPSG film exhibits an ultralow energy disorder (<50 meV) for an excellent zero-field hole mobility of , surpassing most of the amorphous -conjugated polymers. Organic nanopolymers with high dielectric constants open a new way to break through the bottleneck of efficiency and multifunctionality in the blueprint of the fourth-generation semiconductors.
Carbon Materials Advancing Microorganisms in Driving Soil Organic Carbon Regulation
Carbon emission from soil is not only one of the major sources of greenhouse gases but also threatens biological diversity, agricultural productivity, and food security. Regulation and control of the soil carbon pool are political practices in many countries around the globe. Carbon pool management in engineering sense is much bigger and beyond laws and monitoring, as it has to contain proactive elements to restore active carbon. Biogeochemistry teaches us that soil microorganisms are crucial to manage the carbon content effectively. Adding carbon materials to soil is thereby not directly sequestration, as interaction of appropriately designed materials with the soil microbiome can result in both: metabolization and thereby nonsustainable use of the added carbon, or—more favorably—a biological amplification of human efforts and sequestration of extra CO2 by microbial growth. We review here potential approaches to govern soil carbon, with a special focus set on the emerging practice of adding manufactured carbon materials to control soil carbon and its biological dynamics. Notably, research on so-called “biochar” is already relatively mature, while the role of artificial humic substance (A-HS) in microbial carbon sequestration is still in the developing stage. However, it is shown that the preparation and application of A-HS are large biological levers, as they directly interact with the environment and community building of the biological soil system. We believe that A-HS can play a central role in stabilizing carbon pools in soil.
Twin-Wire Networks for Zero Interconnect, High-Density 4-Wire Electrical Characterizations of Materials
Four-wire measurements have been introduced by Lord Kelvin in 1861 and have since become the standard technique for characterizing small resistances and impedances. However, high-density 4-wire measurements are generally complex, time-consuming, and inefficient because of constraints on interconnects, pads, external wires, and mechanical contacts, thus reducing reproducibility, statistical significance, and throughput. Here, we introduce, systematically design, analyze, and experimentally validate zero interconnect networks interfaced to external instrumentation by couples of twin wire. 3D-printed holders with magnets, interconnects, nonadhesive layers, and spacers can effortlessly establish excellent electrical connections with tunable or minimum contact forces and enable accurate measurements even for delicate devices, such as thin metals on soft polymers. As an example, we measured all the resistances of a twin-wire 29-resistor network made of silver-nanoparticle ink printed on polyimide, paper, or photo paper, including during sintering or temperature calibration, resulting in an unprecedentedly easy and accurate characterization of both resistivity and its temperature coefficient. The theoretical framework and experimental strategies reported here represent a breakthrough toward zero interconnect, simple, and efficient high-density 4-wire characterizations, can be generalized to other 4-wire measurements (impedances, sensors) and can open the way to more statistically meaningful and reproducible analyses of materials, high-throughput measurements, and minimally invasive characterizations of biomaterials.
Flexoelectricity Driven Fano Resonance in Slotted Carbon Nanotubes for Decoupled Multifunctional Sensing
Multifunctionality, interference-free signal readout, and quantum effect are important considerations for flexible sensors equipped within a single unit towards further miniaturization. To address these criteria, we present the slotted carbon nanotube (CNT) junction features tunable Fano resonance driven by flexoelectricity, which could serve as an ideal multimodal sensory receptor. Based on extensive ab initio calculations, we find that the effective Fano factor can be used as a temperature-insensitive extrinsic variable for sensing the bending strain, and the Seebeck coefficient can be used as a strain-insensitive intrinsic variable for detecting temperature. Thus, this dual-parameter permits simultaneous sensing of temperature and strain without signal interference. We further demonstrate the applicability of this slotted junction to ultrasensitive chemical sensing which enables precise determination of donor-type, acceptor-type, and inert molecules. This is due to the enhancement or counterbalance between flexoelectric and chemical gating. Flexoelectric gating would preserve the electron–hole symmetry of the slotted junction whereas chemical gating would break it. As a proof-of-concept demonstration, the slotted CNT junction provides an excellent quantum platform for the development of multistimuli sensation in artificial intelligence at the molecular scale.
Structural Analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Proteins
The spread of the latest SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron is particularly concerning because of the large number of mutations present in its genome and lack of knowledge about how these mutations would affect the current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and treatments. Here, by performing phylogenetic analysis using the Omicron spike (S) protein sequence, we found that the Omicron S protein presented the longest evolutionary distance in relation to the other SARS-CoV-2 variants. We predicted the structures of S, M, and N proteins of the Omicron variant using AlphaFold2 and investigated how the mutations have affected the S protein and its parts, S1 NTD and RBD, in detail. We found many amino acids on RBD were mutated, which may influence the interactions between the RBD and ACE2, while also showing the S309 antibody could still be capable of neutralizing Omicron RBD. The Omicron S1 NTD structures display significant differences from the original strain, which could lead to reduced recognition by antibodies resulting in potential immune escape and decreased effectiveness of the existing vaccines. However, this study of the Omicron variant was mainly limited to structural predictions, and these findings should be explored and verified by subsequent experiments. This study provided basic data of the Omicron protein structures that lay the groundwork for future studies related to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant.