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Water “thermostat” could help engineer drought-resistant crops

August 28, 2014 8:58 am | News | Comments

Duke Univ. researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability and adjusts the plant’s water conservation machinery accordingly. The effect is similar to a thermostat.

Neuroscientists reverse memories’ emotional associations

August 28, 2014 8:27 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most memories have some kind of emotion associated with them. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists reveals the brain circuit that controls how memories become linked with positive or negative emotions. Furthermore, the researchers found that they could reverse the emotional association of specific memories by manipulating brain cells with optogenetics.

Researchers discover why Listeria bacterium is so hard to fight

August 27, 2014 11:11 am | News | Comments

The harmful and potentially deadly bacterium Listeria is extremely good at adapting to changes. Research from Denmark uncovers exactly how cunning Listeria is and why it is so hard to fight. The discovery could help develop more efficient ways to combat the bacteria.

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Study: Earth can sustain more terrestrial plant growth than previously thought

August 27, 2014 8:00 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

A new analysis suggests the planet can produce much more land-plant biomass than previously thought. The study, reported in Environmental Science and Technology, recalculates the theoretical limit of terrestrial plant productivity, and finds that it is much higher than many current estimates allow.

Japan lab unable to replicate stem cell results

August 27, 2014 6:26 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Japanese laboratory that retracted a paper reporting a potentially major breakthrough in stem cell research said Wednesday its researchers have not managed to replicate the results. Scientists at the government-affiliated RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology said they are still trying to match results reported in two papers published by Nature in January and then retracted in July.

Nanocosmos of cells under the magnifying glass

August 26, 2014 3:56 pm | by Gunnar Bartsch, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg | News | Comments

Scientists in Germany have managed to take a unique look at the membranes of human cells using a new technique called dSTORM: direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy. This is a specific form of high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, and it makes individual saccharified proteins and lipids visible at the molecular level.

Vision problems for older adults can dim life expectancy

August 26, 2014 11:28 am | by Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Older adults losing vision as they age are more likely to face an increased mortality risk, according to new research from Purdue Univ. The researchers analyzed data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation study that tracked the vision health of 2,520 older adults, ages 65 to 84. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute.

Driving brain rhythm makes mice more sensitive to touch

August 26, 2014 8:33 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By striking up the right rhythm in the right brain region at the right time, Brown Univ. neuroscientists report in Nature Neuroscience that they managed to endow mice with greater touch sensitivity than other mice, making hard-to-perceive vibrations suddenly more vivid to them. The findings offer the first direct evidence that “gamma” brainwaves in the cortex affect perception and attention.

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Eye implant could lead to better glaucoma treatments

August 26, 2014 8:21 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service | News | Comments

For the 2.2 million Americans battling glaucoma, the main course of action for staving off blindness involves weekly visits to eye specialists who monitor increasing pressure within the eye. Now researchers have developed an eye implant that could help stave off blindness caused by glaucoma. The tiny eye implant developed at Stanford Univ. could enable patients to take more frequent readings from the comfort of home.

A glucose meter of a different color provides continuous monitoring

August 26, 2014 7:53 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Videos | Comments

Univ. of Illinois engineers are bringing a touch of color to glucose monitoring. The researchers developed a new continuous glucose monitoring material that changes color as glucose levels fluctuate, and the wavelength shift is so precise that doctors and patients may be able to use it for automatic insulin dosing—something now possible using current point measurements like test strips.

Living organ grown from lab-created cells

August 25, 2014 2:25 pm | Videos | Comments

Laboratory-grown replacement organs have moved a step closer with the completion of a new study. Scientists have grown a fully functional organ from transplanted laboratory-created cells in a living animal for the first time. They have created a thymus, an organ next to the heart that produces immune cells known as T cells that are vital for guarding against disease.

Scientist uncover navigation system used by cancer, nerve cells

August 25, 2014 1:35 pm | News | Comments

Specialized cells can break through normal tissue boundaries and burrow into other tissues and organs. This crucial step in many normal developmental processes is guided by an extracellular cue called netrin, which orients the anchor cell so that it invades in the right direction. In a new study, researchers have shown how receptors on the invasive cells rove around the cell membrane ”hunting” for a missing netrin signal.

A surprising new role for natural killer T cells

August 25, 2014 9:25 am | News | Comments

In the past, immune cells were clearly divided into innate cells, which respond to attacks in a non-specific way, and adaptive cells, which learn to recognize new antigens and gain the ability to rapidly react to later attacks. Researchers at RIKEN in Japan have discovered that is not always the case, having found that killer T cells previously thought to be innate, and thus short-lived, can remain in the lung for up to nine months.

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Breakthrough understanding of biomolecules could lead to new, better drugs

August 25, 2014 9:09 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

There’s a certain type of biomolecule built like a nano-Christmas tree. Called a glycoconjugate, it’s many branches are bedecked with sugary ornaments. It’s those ornaments that get all the glory. That’s because, according to conventional wisdom, the glycoconjugate’s lowly “tree” basically holds the sugars in place as they do the important work of reacting with other molecules.

Laser device may end pin pricks for diabetics

August 22, 2014 8:07 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Princeton Univ. researchers have developed a way to use a laser to measure people's blood sugar, and, with more work to shrink the laser system to a portable size, the technique could allow diabetics to check their condition without pricking themselves to draw blood.

Researchers use 3-D printers to create custom medical implants

August 21, 2014 10:18 am | by Dave Guerin, Louisiana Tech Univ. | News | Comments

A team of researchers at Louisiana Tech Univ. has developed an innovative method for using affordable, consumer-grade 3-D printers and materials to fabricate custom medical implants that can contain antibacterial and chemotherapeutic compounds for targeted drug delivery.

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

August 21, 2014 9:46 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients who desperately need them. In Langmuir, scientists are reporting new understanding about the dynamics of 3-D bioprinting that takes them a step closer to realizing their goal of making working tissues and organs on-demand.

Researchers develop models to study polyelectrolytes

August 21, 2014 9:04 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Videos | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a novel and versatile modeling strategy to simulate polyelectrolyte systems. The model has applications for creating new materials as well as for studying polyelectrolytes, including DNA and RNA. Polyelectrolytes are chains of molecules that are positively or negatively charged when placed in water.

Programmed to fold: RNA origami

August 21, 2014 8:27 am | by Katie Neith, California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers from Aarhus Univ. and Caltech have developed a new method for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Inspired by techniques used for folding DNA origami, the team fabricated complicated shapes from DNA's close chemical cousin, RNA. Unlike DNA origami, whose components are chemically synthesized and then folded in an artificial heating and cooling process, RNA origami are enzymatically synthesized.

Treating pain by blocking the chili-pepper receptor

August 21, 2014 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As anyone who has bitten into a chili pepper knows, its burning spiciness—though irresistible to some—is intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper’s effect are using their findings to develop a new drug candidate for many kinds of pain, which can be caused by inflammation or other problems. They reported their progress on the compound, which is being tested in clinical trials, in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Many patients don’t understand electronic lab results

August 20, 2014 10:48 am | by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

While it's becoming commonplace for patients to see the results of laboratory work electronically, a new Univ. of Michigan study suggests that many people may not be able to understand what those numbers mean. The research found that people with low comprehension of numerical concepts—or numeracy—and low literacy skills were less than half as likely to understand whether a result was inside or outside the reference ranges.

Research paves way for development of cyborg moth “biobots”

August 20, 2014 9:46 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

North Carolina State Univ. researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals moths use to control those muscles. The work opens the door to the development of remotely-controlled moths, or “biobots,” for use in emergency response.

Biomarker in aggressive breast cancer identified

August 20, 2014 7:53 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Two Northwestern Univ. scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy. The biomarker, a protein called STAT3, provides a smart target for new therapeutics designed to treat this often deadly cancer.

500-million-year reset for the immune system

August 19, 2014 10:22 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics re-activated expression of an ancient gene, which is not normally expressed in the mammalian immune system, and found that the animals developed a fish-like thymus. To the researchers' surprise, while the mammalian thymus is utilized exclusively for T cell maturation, the reset thymus produced not only T cells, but also served as a maturation site for B cells.

Our connection to content

August 19, 2014 9:34 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It’s often said that humans are wired to connect: The neural wiring that helps us read the emotions and actions of other people may be a foundation for human empathy. But for the past eight years, MIT Media Lab spinout Innerscope Research has been using neuroscience technologies that gauge subconscious emotions by monitoring brain and body activity to show just how powerfully we also connect to media and marketing communications.

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