Leaving the house in the morning may seem simple, but with every move we make, our brains are working to create maps of the outside world that allow us to navigate and remember where we are. Ultimately, the brain constructs its own pinpoint geographical chart that is far more precise than anything you'd find on Google Maps. But just how neurons make these maps of space has fascinated scientists for decades. Until now.
Like picking a career or a movie, cells have to make decisions—and cancer results from cells making wrong decisions. At the cellular level, wrong decisions can be made right. A team has discovered that colon cancer stem cells, a particularly malignant population of cancer cells, are able to switch between the decision to proliferate or to remain constant—and this “switch” is controlled by a little-studied molecule called microRNA.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, using powerful algorithms developed by computer scientists at Brown University, have assembled the most complete genetic profile yet of acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer.
Simply sending children with asthma a text message each day asking about their symptoms and providing knowledge about their condition can lead to improved health outcomes. In a study, pediatric patients who were asked questions about their symptoms and provided information about asthma via SMS text messages showed improved pulmonary function and a better understanding of their condition within four months.
Cancer cells are wily, well-traveled adversaries, constantly side-stepping treatments to stop their spread. But, for the first time, scientists at the University of Michigan have decoded the molecular chatter that ramps certain cancer cells into overdrive and can cause tumors to metastasize throughout the body.
Researchers at the University of Illinois have identified biomarkers that can be used to determine ovarian cancer survival and recurrence, and have shown how these biomarkers interact with each other to affect these outcomes. The team used data from the Cancer Genome Atlas, which contains information about ovarian cancer patients’ age, survival, cancer recurrence, treatment, tumor stage, tumor grade, and genomic expression.
A X-ray analytical technique that enables researchers at a glance to identify structural similarities and differences between multiple proteins under a variety of conditions has been developed by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. As a demonstration, the researchers used this technique to gain valuable new insight into a protein that is a prime target for cancer chemotherapy.
Cancer cells that can break out of a tumor and invade other organs are more aggressive and nimble than nonmalignant cells, according to a new multi-institutional nationwide study. These cells exert greater force on their environment and can more easily maneuver small spaces.
Despite decades of research, little is known about the identity of RNA molecules that are transported as part of the molecular process underpinning learning and memory. Now, a team has developed a novel strategy for isolating and characterizing a substantial number of RNAs transported from the cell-body of neuron (nerve cell) to the synapse, the small gap separating neurons that enables cell to cell communication.
A dramatic leap forward in the ability of scientists to study the structural states of macromolecules such as proteins and nanoparticles in solution has been achieved by a pair of researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The researchers have developed a new set of metrics for analyzing data acquired through small angle scattering experiments with X-rays or neutrons.
Long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," according to a University of Michigan public health researcher and colleagues from across the U.S.
U.S. health officials are making a high-tech screening device available to African authorities to help spot counterfeit malaria pills in hopes that the technology may eventually be used to combat the fake drug trade worldwide. The FDA announced Wednesday that regulators in Ghana will begin using a federally developed handheld device to screen for fake or diluted versions of two common malaria pills.
In 2011, Yale University undergraduates asked a question: How does a Siberian beetle survive some of the cruelest winters on earth? Their answer appears in the Journal Biological Chemistry in the form of a peculiarly shaped protein with an ability to prevent ice from forming.
A 3D image of a protein that serves as an on-off switch as it binds to receptors on the surface of a cell suggests there may be a sort of main power switch that could be tripped. These surface receptors are responsible for helping cells discern light, set the heart racing, or detect pain. The finding could help in the development of more effective drugs to switch on or off the cell receptors that regulate bodily functions.
Individual freedom and social responsibility may sound like humanistic concepts, but an investigation of the genetic circuitry of bacteria suggests that even the simplest creatures can make difficult choices that strike a balance between selflessness and selfishness.
Scientists have revealed how a bacterial enzyme has evolved an energy-efficient method to move long distances along DNA. The findings present further insight into the coupling of chemical and mechanical energy by a class of enzymes called helicases, a widely distributed group of proteins, which in human cells are implicated in some cancers.
Almost three weeks after China reported finding a new strain of bird flu in humans, experts are still stumped by how people are becoming infected when many appear to have had no recent contact with live fowl and the virus isn't supposed to pass from person to person.
The lungfish is the closest living fish relative of animals with four limbs, called tetrapods. But the lungfish genome is too big to decode with current technology. Scientists have decoded the genome of the next best thing: the coelacanth. Thought to have gone extinct some 70 million years ago, the fish was surprisingly discovered alive in 1938 and could provide insights into the evolution of land animals.
Much research has demonstrated that chronic stress elevates levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones, which impairs memory. And stress is associated with a lot of other physical ailments. But less is known about the effects of acute stress, and studies have been conflicting. Recent work shows that intense, short-lived stress causes the proliferation of new neurons, improving mental performance.
How do nerve cells—which can each be up to three feet long in humans—keep from rupturing or falling apart? Recent research reports that axons, the long, cable-like projections on neurons, are made stronger by a unique modification of the common molecular building block of the cell skeleton. The finding may help guide the search for treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a new tool to help surgeons use X-rays to track devices used in “minimally invasive” surgical procedures while also limiting the patient’s exposure to radiation from the X-rays.
Making choices involves the evaluation of an accumulation of facts. If a wrong choice is made, Princeton University researchers have recently found, the problem may lie in the facts, or information, rather than the brain's decision-making process. The researchers report that erroneous decisions tend to arise from errors, or "noise," in the information coming into the brain.
Doctors have begun to categorize breast cancers into four main groups according to the genetic makeup of the cancer cells. Which category a cancer falls into generally determines the best method of treatment. But cancers in one of the four groups—called "basal-like" or "triple-negative" breast cancer (TNBC)—have been particularly tricky to treat. Researchers have developed a potential treatment for TNBC that uses nanodiamonds.
Researchers from North Carolina State University believe they have solved a puzzle that has vexed science since plants first appeared on Earth. In a paper published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers provide the first 3D model of an enzyme that links a simple sugar, glucose, into long-chain cellulose, the basic building block within plant cell walls that gives plants structure.
Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells, the cells that wrap nerve cells in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate. The research was done in mice and rats, but if the approach also works with human cells, it could eventually lead to cell therapies for a variety of diseases of the nervous system.