Month: February 2024

A fungal peroxidase can oxidise tetrahydropyranes to chiral hemiacetals or lactones A team at the CAS Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology has applied reaction engineering strategies using immobilized peroxygenase from Agrocybe aegerita (AaeUPO) for C-H bond selective hydroxylation reaction of cyclic ether molecules in organic solvents,  for the synthesis of optically pure chiral hemiacetal compounds . The immobilized peroxygenase which was already known to convert tetrahydrofuran into hemiacetal products also transformed tetrahydropyran rings to hemiacetals, with a selectivity of 97%, a TON of up to 95172, and an enantiomer selectivity (ee) of over 99%. For other series of products with chiral carbon atoms, the ee value of the corresponding hemiacetal product can exceed 99%. Using reaction engineering to further study how the hemiacetal product obtained by hydroxylation of C-H bonds in the aqueous phase could be further oxidized in situ to obtain lactone compounds in a one-step method, it was showed that the ratio of hemiacetal and lactone products differed at different pH. At pH 4.0, only the hemiacetal product was detected, at pH 9.0 only the lactone. Based on this discovery, the researchers synthesized a variety of lactone molecules through enzymatic C-H bond activation through hemiacetal intermediates. Molecular dynamics simulations and quantum chemical calculations implied that the difference in product distribution between hemiacetals and lactones can be explained by the different binding preferences of cyclic ethers and hemiacetals toward the active site of the enzyme.

Lanzhou University reports progress in prospecting a gold mine using muon imaging technology Liu Zhiyi and colleagues have used the penetration capability of muons for the detection of cultural relicts and ores. Using self developed detection equipment, they conducted field measurement in a gold mine in northwest China’s Gansu Province. Using six sets of equipment to scan a large area of the gold mine, the imaging results clearly showed gold veins, several goaf areas and a low density geological structure above the scanned area.

China establishes AI education bases in 184 primary and secondary schools China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) has announced a list of 184 primary and secondary schools selected as artificial intelligence (AI) education bases, with the aim of better promoting the development of AI education. To facilitate the implementation of AI education, primary and secondary schools should mainly rely on information technology, general technology and other related courses, further enrich educational and teaching resources, and carry out teacher training and guidance, said the MOE. The MOE said it will strengthen guidance for the designated bases, encouraging them to play an exemplary and leading role in developing AI school-based curricula, integrating disciplines, reforming teaching methods, jointly constructing and sharing digital education resources, cultivating teachers’ digital literacy, and fostering the comprehensive development of students, among other responsibilities.

Shanghai team develops super “CD-ROM” with petaByte storage capacity The CAS Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics and the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology have made a breakthrough in the research of ultra-large capacity and super-resolution three-dimensional optical storage. The team used the world’s first dual-beam controlled concentration-induced luminescence super-resolution optical storage technology to break through the diffraction limit  in both information writing and reading, achieving super-resolution with a point size of 54nm and a track pitch of 70nm data storage. In their experimental system, they used 100 layers for multi-layer recording on a single disk, resulting in data storage of petaBytes on a single disk. This technology makes it possible to achieve exabit-level storage by stacking nanoscale disks into arrays, which is essential in big data centres with limited space.

China’s “Speech Valley” in Hefei China Speech Valley, located in the western suburbs of Hefei City, east China’s Anhui Province, is China’s first national-level industry base focusing on voice and AI. Founded in 2013, this base is now home to over 2,200 enterprises.  iFLYTEK Co., Ltd. It was the first enterprise settled in China Speech Valley. As a leading enterprise in China’s intelligent voice industry, it has driven more and more relevant upstream and downstream enterprises to take root in Hefei. For years, from the initial voice synthesis and recognition to voice interaction, cognitive intelligence, and now the AI-powered large language model, iFLYTEK has continued to make breakthroughs in source technology innovation.

Launch of new research center for molecular imaging and theranostics in Beijing The center, managed by Peking University, is located in Huairou Science City in the northeastern suburbs of Beijing. With a planned construction area of 29,000 square meters and a total investment of approximately 630 million yuan (about 88.67 million U.S. dollars), the center is a key part of the multi-modal and multi-scale biomedical imaging project, one of the major national scientific and technological infrastructure, It is scheduled to be put into operation in June 2026. Molecular imaging technology can decode the occurrence and development mechanism of diseases in real-time and in vivo from different scales of molecules, cells and tissue, and realize the visual diagnosis and treatment of diseases. It has shown great clinical significance in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. Core technology is the use of molecular tracers with specific biological targeting properties. The platform comprises four experimental sub-platforms, namely, in vivo chemistry and probe technology, biological imaging probes, multi-modal imaging probes, and medical diagnostic probes, alongside a public lab sub-platform.

Simple and efficient plant transformation based on their active regeneration capacity A team at South China Botanical Gardenias developed RAPID, a fast and efficient plant genetic transformation methods, based on active regeneration capacity of plants. They found that positive organs and transformed individuals could be obtained rapidly by injection into the sweet potato stem segment, and transformation efficiency could be optimized in terms of Agrobacterium strains, infiltration concentration, chemoactivators and other methodological conditions, They developed a variety of reporter genes and genetic editing tools, and then confirmed the plant meristematic tissues by the analysis method of genetics and cytology Efficient transfection as well as rapid regeneration of individual newborn transformed organs. The RAPID method has been applied to asexually reproduced cash crops or resource plants such as sweet potato, potato and thick vine. Compared with traditional genetic transformation methods, the RAPID method has higher transformation efficiency (20-100 times higher), simpler operation process (2-3 times shorter), and does not require expensive and complicated tissue culture process.The RAPID method overcomes the limitations of the traditional method in rapid genetic transformation, and breaks the bottleneck in the development and utilization of various types of resource plants. Based on the active regeneration ability and asexual reproduction, this method is expected to be applied to a wider range of plant species, and to realize the trait improvement and germplasm innovation of more characteristic resource plants and economic crops, so as to promote the development of basic and applied research in related fields, and to provide theoretical and methodological support for the efficient genetic improvement of characteristic plants and the application of modern agricultural breeding.

Chemical synthesis of tubercle bacillus cell wall components will help to develop drugs Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) from the Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell envelope represents important targets for the development of new therapeutic agents against tuberculosis. Researchers from the CAS Kunming Institute of Botany have developed a modular and efficient synthesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis mannan cap lipoarabinomannan 101 sugar through a one-pot glycosidylation reaction and have achieved chemical synthesis of lipoarabinomannans with >100 monosaccharides and can serve for the development of chemotherapeutic drugs.

A protein film derived from an insect shows excellent antimicrobial properties A research team at Xi’an Jian Tong University used a salt solution to induce a protein film-dressing self-assembling structure in the epidermis of the mot Astragalus membranaceus and showed that the tissue body has excellent biocompatibility. They also found that the tissue bodies have broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties towards Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, as well as some fungi. Bioinspired materials based on insect proteins could thus be used for wound healing and related biomedical fields.

Proton-exchange membrane in acid medium permits sustainable electrochemical conversion of CO2 to formic acid A Chinese-New Zealand team has developed a proton-exchange membrane system that reduces CO2 to formic acid at a catalyst that is derived from waste lead–acid batteries and in which a lattice carbon activation mechanism contributes. When coupling CO2 reduction with hydrogen oxidation, formic acid is produced with over 93% Faradaic efficiency. The system is compatible with start-up/shut-down processes, achieves nearly 91% single-pass conversion efficiency for CO2 at a current density of 600 mA cm−2 and cell voltage of 2.2 V and is shown to operate continuously for more than 5,200 h.

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