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Health benefits of used coffee grounds

May 13, 2015 8:57 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Coffee has gone from dietary foe to friend in recent years, partly due to the revelation that it’s rich in antioxidants. Now even spent coffee-grounds are gaining attention for being chock-full of these compounds, which have potential health benefits. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers explain how to extract antioxidants from the grounds. They then determined just how concentrated the antioxidants are.

Using microbial communities to assess environmental contamination

May 13, 2015 7:58 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

First there were canaries in coal mines, now there are microbes at nuclear waste sites, oil spills and other contaminated environments. A multi-institutional team of more than 30 scientists has found that statistical analysis of DNA from natural microbial communities can be used to accurately identify environmental contaminants and serve as quantitative geochemical biosensors.

Molecular switch that promotes heart cell maturation discovered

May 13, 2015 7:34 am | by Michael McCarthy, Univ. of Washington Health Services | News | Comments

A molecular switch that seems to be essential for embryonic heart cells to grow into more mature, adult-like heart cells has been discovered. The discovery should help scientist better understand how human hearts mature. Of particular interest to stem cell and regenerative medicine researchers, the finding may lead to laboratory methods to create heart cells that function more like those found in adult hearts.

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Researchers in the University of Colorado Center for Neuroscience have developed an implantable microscope that will allow researchers to see deep into the brain and learn about small parts of the brain we've never been able to properly study.

Researchers create microscope allowing deep brain exploration

May 12, 2015 10:05 am | by David Kelly, University of Colorado | News | Comments

A team of neuroscientists and bioengineers a have created a miniature, fiber-optic microscope designed to peer deeply inside a living brain. The laser-scanning microscope, a prototype which will be further refined, uses fiber-optics and a tiny electrowetting lens. Compared to other small, focusing lenses, it’s fast and not sensitive to motion. This allows it to reliably focus on living tissue.

Faster, smaller, more informative

May 12, 2015 7:37 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new technique invented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology can measure the relative positions of tiny particles as they flow through a fluidic channel, potentially offering an easy way to monitor the assembly of nanoparticles, or to study how mass is distributed within a cell. With further advancements, this technology has the potential to resolve the shape of objects in flow as small as viruses, the researchers say.

Measurement of a single nuclear spin in biological samples

May 11, 2015 12:06 pm | by Univ. of Basel | News | Comments

Physicists were able to show, for the first time, that the nuclear spins of single molecules can be detected with the help of magnetic particles at room temperature. The researchers describe a novel experimental setup with which the tiny magnetic fields of the nuclear spins of single biomolecules could be registered for the first time.

PTSD linked to accelerated aging

May 8, 2015 10:21 am | by Scott LaFee, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

In recent years, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning from conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. PTSD is associated with number of psychological maladies, among them chronic depression, anger, insomnia, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Observed: The moment your mind changes

May 6, 2015 7:48 am | by Janet Rae-Dupree and Tom Abate, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. The findings result from experiments led by electrical engineering Prof. Krishna Shenoy, whose Stanford Univ. lab focuses on movement control and neural prostheses controlled by the user's brain.

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Producing jet fuel compounds from fungus

May 6, 2015 7:36 am | by Tina Hilding, Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Washington State Univ. researchers have found a way to make jet fuel from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. The researchers hope the process leads to economically viable production of aviation biofuels in the next five years. The researchers used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

How studying bat touch could help build better planes

May 4, 2015 8:51 am | by Columbia Univ. Medical Center | Videos | Comments

Bats are masters of flight in the night sky, capable of steep nosedives and sharp turns that put our best aircrafts to shame. Although the role of echolocation in bats’ impressive midair maneuvering has been extensively studied, the contribution of touch has been largely overlooked. A study published in Cell Reports shows, for the first time, that a unique array of sensory receptors in the wing provides feedback to a bat during flight.

New research into health benefits of coffee

May 1, 2015 10:29 am | by Monash Univ. | News | Comments

New research has brought us closer to being able to understand the health benefits of coffee. Monash Univ. researchers, in collaboration with Italian coffee roasting company Illycaffè, have conducted the most comprehensive study to date on how free radicals and antioxidants behave during every stage of the coffee brewing process, from intact bean to coffee brew.

Practical gel that simply “clicks” for biomedical applications

May 1, 2015 10:17 am | by Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

If you opt to wear soft contact lenses, chances are you are using hydrogels on a daily basis. Made up of polymer chains that are able to absorb water, hydrogels used in contacts are flexible and allow oxygen to pass through the lenses, keeping eyes healthy. Hydrogels can be up to 99% water and as a result are similar in composition to human tissues.

How some beetles produce a scalding defensive spray

May 1, 2015 9:36 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Bombardier beetles, which exist on every continent except Antarctica, have a pretty easy life. Virtually no other animals prey on them, because of one particularly effective defense mechanism: When disturbed or attacked, the beetles produce an internal chemical explosion in their abdomen and then expel a jet of boiling, irritating liquid toward their attackers.

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Study: Global warming to push 1 in 13 species to extinction

April 30, 2015 2:04 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Global warming will eventually push 1 out of every 13 species on Earth into extinction, a new study projects. It won't quite be as bad in North America, where only 1 in 20 species will be killed off because of climate change or Europe where the extinction rate is nearly as small. But in South America, that forecasted heat-caused extinction rate soars to 23%, the worst for any continent.

Inflammatory immune cells can flip the genetic script

April 30, 2015 8:47 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A type of immune cell that promotes inflammation during the immune response, TH17, can convert into another type of cell that reduces inflammation, Yale Univ. researchers have found. The finding, published in Nature, points to a possible therapeutic strategy for inflammation-mediated diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Illuminating the dark zone

April 30, 2015 8:01 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

The human body is a cross between a factory and a construction zone; at least on the cellular level. Certain proteins act as project managers, which direct a wide variety of processes and determine the fate of the cell as a whole. One group of proteins called the WD-repeat (WDR) family helps a cell choose which of the thousands of possible gene products it should manufacture.

“The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit”—was prepared by a committee of MIT researchers and research administrators. Examining how funding cutbacks will affect the future of scientific studies

New MIT report details benefits of investment in basic research

April 29, 2015 2:24 pm | by Abby Abazorius, MIT | News | Comments

Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet. Chinese researchers, meanwhile, developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, and uncovered new ways to meet global food demand.

The super-particle is called a Bose-Einstein condensate, where the term condensate denotes a group of particles that all behave in the same way. That it should be possible to create such a condensate was first proposed theoretically by Bose and Einstein i

Quantum particles at play: Game theory elucidates the collective behavior of bosons

April 28, 2015 11:16 am | by LMU Munich | News | Comments

Quantum particles behave in strange ways and are often difficult to study experimentally. Using mathematical methods drawn from game theory, LMU physicists have shown how bosons, which like to enter the same state, can form multiple groups.

A team of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source, above, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility at Argonne National Laboratory, demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity for measuring the distribution of trace elements in thicker sp

X-ray ptychography, fluorescence microscopy combo sheds new light on trace elements

April 24, 2015 10:44 am | by Angela Hardin, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a new approach that combines ptychographic x-ray imaging and fluorescence microscopy to study the important role trace elements play in biological functions on hydrated cells. A team of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity for measuring distribution of trace elements in thicker specimens at cryogenic temperatures, in this case at about 260 degrees below Fahrenheit.

New DNA codes for mammoths: Step toward bringing them back?

April 23, 2015 2:05 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are getting their best look yet at the DNA code for the woolly mammoth, thanks to work that could be a step toward bringing back the extinct beast. Researchers deciphered the complete DNA code, or genomes, of two mammoths. The new genomes are far more refined than a previous one announced in 2008.

Testing brain activity to identify cybersecurity threats

April 22, 2015 10:37 am | by Angie Hunt, Iowa State Univ. | News | Comments

The old adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link certainly applies to the risk organizations face in defending against cybersecurity threats. Employees pose a danger that can be just as damaging as a hacker. Iowa State Univ. researchers are working to better understand these internal threats by getting inside the minds of employees who put their company at risk.

Engineering the P450 enzyme to perform new reactions

April 22, 2015 8:24 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Enzymes, the micro machines in our cells, can evolve to perform new tasks when confronted with novel situations. But what if you want an enzyme to do an entirely different job—one that it would never have to do in a cell? In a recent report published in ACS Central Science, researchers show that they can mimic nature and perform evolution in a test tube, developing enzymes that can perform brand-new chemical reactions.

Engineered softwood could transform pulp, paper and biofuel industries

April 22, 2015 7:44 am | by Krista Eastman, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Scientists have demonstrated the potential for softwoods to process more easily into pulp and paper if engineered to incorporate a key feature of hardwoods. The finding could improve the economics of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries and reduce those industries' environmental impact.

A better grasp of primate grip

April 21, 2015 10:59 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability of humans and other primates throughout history. In a new study, a research team led by Yale Univ. found that even the oldest known human ancestors may have had precision grip capabilities comparable to modern humans. This includes Australopithecus afarensis, which appears in the fossil record a million years before the first evidence of stone tools.

Microalgae used for green asphalt

April 21, 2015 10:25 am | by CNRS | News | Comments

Microalgae offer a highly promising alternative to petroleum products without competing for resources used in the food industry. They have now been used, for the first time, to make asphalt. Researchers have recently proved the viability of bioasphalt, demonstrating its close similarity to the "real" asphalt used to pave roads.

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