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New lab technique reveals structure, function of proteins critical in DNA repair

April 17, 2015 12:32 pm | by Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

By combining two highly innovative experimental techniques, scientists at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have for the first time simultaneously observed the structure and the correlated function of specific proteins critical in the repair of DNA, providing definitive answers to some highly debated questions, and opening up new avenues of inquiry and exciting new possibilities for biological engineering.

3D-printed blossoms a growing tool for ecology

April 17, 2015 10:36 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

3D printing has been used to make everything from cars to medical implants. Now, Univ. of...

How climate affects biodiversity

April 17, 2015 8:22 am | by Uppsala Univ. | News | Comments

How does climate change affect the occurrence and distribution of species? This is a key...

Flourishing faster

April 17, 2015 8:16 am | by Univ. of Manchester | News | Comments

Scientists at The Univ. of Manchester have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster...

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Zinc deficiency linked to activation of Hedgehog signaling pathway

April 17, 2015 8:03 am | by Mary Martialay, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | News | Comments

Zinc deficiency, long associated with numerous diseases like certain cancers, can lead to activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway, a biomolecular pathway that plays essential roles in developing organisms and in diseases, according to new research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Tracing dust samples using fungal DNA

April 16, 2015 12:33 pm | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, have developed a statistical model that allows them to tell where a dust sample came from within the continental U.S. based on the DNA of fungi found in the sample.

Inhibitor for abnormal protein points way to more selective cancer drugs

April 16, 2015 8:20 am | by Dave Zobel, Caltech | News | Comments

Nowhere is the adage "form follows function" more true than in the folded chain of amino acids that makes up a single protein macromolecule. But proteins are very sensitive to errors in their genetic blueprints. One single-letter DNA "misspelling" (called a point mutation) can alter a protein's structure or electric charge distribution enough to render it ineffective or even deleterious.

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BPA exposure in pregnant mice affects fertility in three generations

April 16, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

When scientists exposed pregnant mice to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equivalent to those considered safe in humans, three generations of female mouse offspring experienced significant reproductive problems, including declines in fertility, sexual maturity and pregnancy success, the scientists report in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Science Connect: The Translational Approach

April 15, 2015 4:37 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Translational research is a paradigm for research designed to enable innovative thinking by leveraging the benefits of collaboration. First emerging in the mid-1990s in reference to cancer studies spanning basic science, over the past two decades the definition has broadened and evolved.

Nano-coated mesh could clean oil spills

April 15, 2015 9:24 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The mesh coating is among a suite of nature-inspired nanotechnologies under development at Ohio State and described in two papers in Nature Scientific Reports. Potential applications range from cleaning oil spills to tracking oil deposits underground.

DNA data set is potent, accessible tool

April 15, 2015 7:52 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists focused on producing biofuels more efficiently have a new powerful data set to help them study the DNA of microbes that fuel bioconversion and other processes. In a recently published paper, researchers describe methods and results for sequencing the Clostridium autoethanogenum bacterium. These and other microorganisms play important roles in biofuels, agriculture, food production, the environment, health and disease.

Your brain's aging and a new report urges ways to stay sharp

April 14, 2015 4:11 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Those lost car keys that were an annoyance in your 30s can spark major anxiety in your 60s. Turns out it's pretty normal: The brain ages just like the rest of your body, says a new report that urges Americans to take steps to keep sharp in their senior years. The prestigious Institute of Medicine examined what scientists know about "cognitive aging," changes in mental functioning as we get older.

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Why skin is resistant to tearing

April 14, 2015 8:21 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Skin is remarkably resistant to tearing and a team of researchers from the Univ. of California, San Diego and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory now have shown why. Using powerful x-ray beams and electron microscopy, researchers made the first direct observations of the micro-scale mechanisms that allow skin to resist tearing.

Limber lungs: one type of airway cell can regenerate another lung cell type

April 13, 2015 1:41 pm | by UPenn | News | Comments

A new collaborative study describes a way that lung tissue can regenerate after injury. 

Plant cell structure discovery could lead to improved renewable materials

April 10, 2015 12:07 pm | by Univ. of Warwick | News | Comments

The step forward follows research by the Univs. of Warwick and Cambridge and the unexpected discovery of a previously unknown arrangement of molecules in plant cell walls. The researchers investigated the polymer xylan, which comprises a third of wood matter.

Bacteria tracked feeding nitrogen to nutrient-starved plants

April 10, 2015 11:19 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

With rising populations and changing climate conditions, the need for resilient and reliable crops has never been greater. Nitrogen, an essential element for plant growth, is often woefully absent in heavily farmed land. Earth’s atmosphere offers an overabundance of nitrogen, but how can it be safely and sustainably transferred into the soil? Nitrogen-eating bacteria may be the answer.

Researchers deliver large particles into cells at high speed

April 9, 2015 12:06 pm | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A new device developed by Univ. of California, Los Angeles, engineers and doctors may eventually help scientists study the development of disease, enable them to capture improved images of the inside of cells and lead to other improvements in medical and biological research.

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Possible new RNA engineering tool

April 8, 2015 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A great deal of public attention in the past couple of years has been showered on complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas” for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA. Now, researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are reporting that CRISPR-Cas complexes could also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Sound separates cancer cells from blood samples

April 7, 2015 8:26 am | by A’ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers from Penn State Univ.

Computers that mimic the function of the brain

April 7, 2015 8:16 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are always searching for improved technologies, but the most efficient computer possible already exists. It can learn and adapt without needing to be programmed or updated. It has nearly limitless memory, is difficult to crash, and works at extremely fast speeds. It’s not a Mac or a PC; it’s the human brain. And scientists around the world want to mimic its abilities.

Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength

April 7, 2015 8:02 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Life may seem precarious for the sea sponge known as Venus’ flower basket. Tiny, hair-like appendages made essentially of glass are all that hold the creatures to their seafloor homes. But fear not for these creatures of the deep. Those tiny lifelines, called basalia spicules, are fine-tuned for strength, according to new research led by Brown Univ. engineers.

Mighty microexons take center stage in shaping of the brain

April 1, 2015 8:52 am | by Liam Mitchell, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Complex brain disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia, still puzzle scientists because their causes lie hidden in early events of brain development, which are still poorly understood. This is about to change thanks to research by Univ. of Toronto Profs. Ben Blencowe and Sabine Cordes, who have developed a powerful model that will allow researchers to better understand the physiology behind many disorders.

Facebook app encourages individuals to get in touch with their DNA

April 1, 2015 7:48 am | by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Have you ever wondered if your dad's fight with prostate cancer means you could face the same reality? Perhaps your family has several members who have struggled with obesity and you wonder if it's something you inherited or if it's caused by the environment. Maybe you have always wanted to learn where your ancestors came from beyond the basic paper trail. Good news: Researchers have an app for that.

Skin tough

April 1, 2015 7:31 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When weighing the pluses and minuses of your skin add this to the plus column: Your skin, like that of all vertebrates, is remarkably resistant to tearing. Now, a collaboration of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, San Diego, has shown why.

Biology in a twist

March 31, 2015 12:21 pm | by Amal Naquiah, National Univ. of Signapore | News | Comments

Researchers at the National Univ. of Singapore have discovered that the inherent handedness of molecular structures directs the behavior of individual cells and confers them the ability to sense the difference between left and right. This is a significant step forward in the understanding of cellular biology.

The unseen way organisms cope with climate change

March 31, 2015 10:55 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Scientists have found a way to measure the unseen toll that environmental stress places on living creatures, showing that they can rev up their metabolism to work more than twice as hard as normal to cope with change. Stresses from climate change such as rising temperatures and increasing ocean acidity can move an organism closer and closer to the brink of death without visible signs.

A “Wikipedia” for neurons

March 31, 2015 8:43 am | by Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | Videos | Comments

The decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain is astounding. To help scientists make sense of this “brain big data,” researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univ. have used data mining to create www.neuroelectro.org, a publicly available Website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing physiological information about neurons.

High-tech method allows rapid imaging of functions in living brain

March 30, 2015 11:49 am | by Julie Flory, Washington Univ. of St. Louis | News | Comments

Researchers studying cancer and other invasive diseases rely on high-resolution imaging to see tumors and other activity deep within the body's tissues. Using a new high-speed, high-resolution imaging method, a team at Washington Univ. in St. Louis were able to see blood flow, blood oxygenation, oxygen metabolism and other functions inside a living mouse brain at faster rates than ever before.

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed world by 2050

March 30, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in Cell.

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