Striking images of SARS-CoV-2 infected cells

Researchers capture high-powered microscopic images showing startlingly high SARS-CoV-2 viral loads on human respiratory surfaces.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial put on hold

The global trial run by researchers at Oxford and AstraZeneca has been paused due to an adverse reaction at a UK site. Whether the reaction is related to the vaccine is still unknown.

Face shields less effective against spreading COVID-19

Face shields and masks with exhalation valves found to be ineffective for stopping COVID-19 from spreading.

Nasal vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 prevents infection and spread throughout the body

Study claims nasal delivery protects first site of infection and produces widespread immune response compared to intramuscular injection.

Researchers show children are silent spreaders of virus that causes COVID-19

Comprehensive pediatric study examines viral load, immune response and hyperinflammation in pediatric COVID-19.

Research highlights

This month in pictures

There is art in science and science in art — here we’ve put together some of the most inspiring science images published in our journals this month.

Yolk–shell structures

This elemental map of a Fe3O4/AuNS@mSiO2 yolk–shell structure was enabled by energy dispersive X-ray. This image was created as part of a new strategy for making yolk–shell structured materials with applications in catalysis, photothermal reactions, and sensing.

Shape-shifting magnetic cilia

Stimulus‐responsive polymers are attractive for microactuators as they can be easily miniaturized and remotely controlled for untethered operation. This SEM image shows a single magnetic cilium prepared through magnetic-assisted self-assembly, and used to create elastomers with programmable shapes to advance soft materials and robotic devices.

Improving diagnosis

Accurately diagnosing cancer and identifying its stage of development is crucial for saving lives. Carcinomas that are likely to spread show a number of distinct characteristics that are detectable through force spectroscopy. These results could help improve the prognosis in epithelial cancers with metastasis risk.

Light-scattering crystals

This image shows polycrystaline structures of isotactic polypropylene (iPP) seen through a polarized optical microscope during crystallization at 130 °C. iPP crystals were used as a model for investigating the effects semicrystalline polymers have on light scattering.

Rings of gold

What at first glance look like rings in this TEM image are in fact gold nanoparticles on poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) spheres. The PLGA spheres are not easily visible, and so the darker gold nanoparticles on the PLGA surface appear to be forming into clusters of rings. Aesthetics aside, the purpose of these PLGA-Au co-assemblies is to enhance photoacoustic imaging and photothermal therapy in treating cancer.

Making molds

This scanning electron microscopy image shows microchannels fabricated by two-photon polymerization, which were then used to mold 3D liquid crystal network microstructures. These microchannels were designed using a “pixelated” technique with equally spaced, 10 μm × 10 μm pixels. This technique enables the fabrication of a variety of channel patterns, allowing more freedom when designing liquid crystal network microstructures.

Kidney stem cells

This spheroidally shaped cell culture of human embryonic kidney cells was templated by a photochemical technique. Photochemistry was used to controllably create hollow shapes within hydrogel structures. These hollows were then seeded with cells, which grew to fill the empty space. The spheroids were stained using a cell marker and the 3D imaging was accomplished with a bespoke digital micromirror-device-based confocal microscope.

Sneaky microrobots

Zwitterionic polymers allow researchers to fabricate drug-carrying microrobots that can operate covertly under the immune system’s radar. SThese sneaky bots were made using fully zwitterionic photosensitive materials developed for two‐photon polymerization and 3D microprinting.

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