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Bioengineers make functional 3-D brain-like tissue model

August 12, 2014 10:40 am | by Kim Thurler, Tufts Univ. | News | Comments

The human brain remains one of the least understood organs in the human body, because of its complexity and the difficulty of studying its physiology in the living body. Tufts Univ. researchers announced development of the first reported complex 3-D model made of brain-like cortical tissue that exhibits biochemical and electrophysiological responses and can function in the laboratory for months.

Synthetic molecule makes cancer self-destruct

August 12, 2014 8:40 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and five other institutions have created a molecule that can cause cancer cells to self-destruct by ferrying sodium and chloride ions into the cancer cells. These synthetic ion transporters confirm a two-decades-old hypothesis that could point the way to new anticancer drugs while also benefitting patients with cystic fibrosis.

From eons to seconds, proteins exploit the same forces

August 12, 2014 7:58 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Nature’s artistic and engineering skills are evident in proteins. Scientists at Rice Univ. have now employed their unique theories to show how the interplay between evolution and physics developed these skills. The team used computer models to show that the energy landscapes that describe how nature selects viable protein sequences over evolutionary timescales employ the same forces as those that allow proteins to fold.

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Rise of the dinosaurs

August 12, 2014 7:45 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were the golden age of dinosaurs, during which the prehistoric giants roamed the Earth for nearly 135 million years. Paleontologists have unearthed numerous fossils from these periods, suggesting that dinosaurs were abundant throughout the world. But where and when dinosaurs first came into existence has been difficult to ascertain.

New biomaterial coats tricky burn wounds by acting like cling wrap

August 11, 2014 12:33 pm | News | Comments

Wrapping wound dressings around fingers and toes can be tricky, but for burn victims, guarding them against infection is critical. At the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society scientists have reported the development of new ultra-thin coatings called nanosheets that can cling to the body's contours and keep bacteria at bay. The super-thin sheets have been tested on mice and could help transform burn treatment.

An easier way to manipulate malaria genes

August 11, 2014 10:35 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, has proven notoriously resistant to scientists’ efforts to study its genetics. It can take up to a year to determine the function of a single gene, which has slowed efforts to develop new, more targeted drugs and vaccines. Biological engineers have now demonstrated a new genome-editing technique that can disrupt a single parasite gene in a matter of weeks.

Scientists unravel mystery of brain cell growth

August 11, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

In the developing brain, special proteins that act like molecular tugboats push or pull on growing nerve cells, or neurons, helping them navigate to their assigned places amidst the brain’s wiring. How a single protein can exert both a push and a pull force to nudge a neuron in the desired direction is a longstanding mystery that has now been solved by scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Water’s reaction with metal oxides opens doors for researchers

August 11, 2014 8:00 am | by Scott Gordon, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

A multi-institutional team has resolved a long-unanswered question about how two of the world’s most common substances interact. In a paper published recently in Nature Communications, an international team reported fundamental discoveries about how water reacts with metal oxides. The paper opens doors for greater understanding and control of chemical reactions in fields ranging from catalysis to geochemistry and atmospheric chemistry.

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Scientists use lasers, carbon nanotubes to look inside living brains

August 8, 2014 8:19 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service | News | Comments

Some of the most damaging brain diseases can be traced to irregular blood delivery in the brain. Now, Stanford Univ. chemists have employed lasers and carbon nanotubes to capture an unprecedented look at blood flowing through a living brain. The technique was developed for mice but could one day be applied to humans, potentially providing vital information in the study of stroke and migraines.

Cell signaling pathway linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes

August 8, 2014 7:55 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. study shows that Notch signaling, a key biological pathway tied to development and cell communication, also plays an important role in the onset of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, a discovery that offers new targets for treatment. The research team found that blocking Notch signaling in the fat tissue of mice caused white fat cells to transform into a "leaner" type of fat known as beige fat.

Team determines structure of a molecular machine that targets viral DNA for destruction

August 7, 2014 5:01 pm | News | Comments

Recent research has made a significant contribution to the understanding of a new field of DNA research that is based on a repetitive piece of DNA in the bacterial genome called a CRISPR. The study provides the first detailed blueprint for this multi-subunit “molecular machinery” that bacteria use to detect and destroy invading viruses.

Fundamental plant chemicals trace back to bacteria

August 7, 2014 4:55 pm | News | Comments

A fundamental chemical pathway that all plants use to create an essential amino acid needed by all animals to make proteins has now been traced to two groups of ancient bacteria. The pathway is also known for making hundreds of chemicals, including a compound that makes wood strong and the pigments that make red wine red.

CDC director: Scale of Ebola crisis unprecedented

August 7, 2014 4:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The current Ebola crisis in West Africa is on pace to sicken more people than all other previous outbreaks of the disease combined, a U.S. health official said Thursday. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a congressional hearing that the outbreak is unprecedented in part because it's in a region of Africa that never has dealt with Ebola before.

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Bad bite: A tick can make you allergic to red meat

August 7, 2014 2:53 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A bug can turn you into a vegetarian, or at least make you swear off red meat. Doctors across the nation are seeing a surge of sudden meat allergies in people bitten by a certain kind of tick. This bizarre problem was only discovered a few years ago but is growing as the ticks spread from the Southwest and the East to more parts of the United States.

New handheld device uses lasers, sound for melanoma imaging

August 7, 2014 9:39 am | News | Comments

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer type in the United States. A new handheld device may help diagnosis and treatment efforts for the disease. It uses lasers and sound waves and is the first that can be used directly on a patient to accurately measure how deep a melanoma tumor extends into the skin.

Brain tumors fly under the body's radar like stealth jets

August 7, 2014 8:43 am | News | Comments

Brain tumors fly under the radar of the body’s defense forces by coating their cells with extra amounts of a specific protein, new research at the Univ. of Michigan shows. The findings, made in mice and rats, show the key role of a protein called galectin-1 in some of the most dangerous brain tumors, called high grade malignant gliomas. The stealth approach lets the tumors hide until it’s too late for the body to defeat them.

In search for Alzheimer’s drug, a major STEP forward

August 7, 2014 8:10 am | by Karen N. Peart, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered a new drug compound that reverses the brain deficits of Alzheimer’s disease in an animal model. The compound, TC-2153, inhibits the negative effects of a protein called STtriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP), which is key to regulating learning and memory. These cognitive functions are impaired in Alzheimer’s.

A new way to model cancer

August 7, 2014 7:45 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Sequencing the genomes of tumor cells has revealed thousands of mutations associated with cancer. One way to discover the role of these mutations is to breed a strain of mice that carry the genetic flaw—but breeding such mice is an expensive, time-consuming process. Now, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have found an alternative.

Study ties new gene to major breast cancer risk

August 6, 2014 5:25 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

It's long been known that faulty BRCA genes greatly raise the risk for breast cancer. Now scientists say a more recently identified, less common gene can do the same. Mutations in the gene can make breast cancer up to nine times more likely to develop, an international team of researchers reports in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A New Spectrum

August 6, 2014 10:22 am | by Paul Livingstone | HORIBA Scientific | Articles | Comments

In 2012, a team of researchers in London imaged, for the first time, the structure of the DNA double helix. James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA 60 years ago by laboriously studying x-ray diffraction images of millions of DNA molecules. However, Dr. Bart Hoogenboom and Dr. Carl Leung used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to directly “feel” the molecule’s structure in a fraction of the time.

R&D Life Sciences Overview

August 6, 2014 10:07 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Thermo Fisher Scientific, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Protea Biosiences , Agilent Technologies Inc. | Articles | Comments

Life science researchers are benefiting from easy-to-use, ultra-fast, automated and integrated platforms that address specific application needs. These platforms combine hardware, software and reagents into integrated, push-button analysis systems capable of transforming workflows which once took several days into minutes.

Scientists create remote-controlled nanoscale protein motors

August 6, 2014 9:58 am | by Shara Tonn, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

To help them further the study of cell function, a team of Stanford Univ. bioengineers has designed a suite of protein motors that can be controlled remotely by light. Splicing together DNA from different organisms such as pig, slime mold and oat, which has a light-detecting module, the team created DNA codes for each of their protein motors. When exposed to light, the new protein motors change direction or speed.

Cool Solutions

August 6, 2014 9:58 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Thermo Fisher Scientific | Articles | Comments

In the ultra-low-temperature (ULT) freezer market there’s a continued focus on sample protection. As users store priceless samples, they need to have ULT freezers that provide them with quick recovery and uniformity after door openings. However, for most users, the trend is pointing to energy efficiency and cost, as ULT freezers cost as much to operate in a year as an average American household, according to the Univ. of California, Davis.

Enhanced Sample Prep

August 6, 2014 9:21 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Sample preparation is a critical step in the analytical process. Studies report that sample prep can represent about 60% of a laboratory technician’s time and also forms one of the principal sources of error. Many techniques to conduct sample prep are available to researchers, such as filtration, digestion, dialysis, liquid/liquid extraction and solid phase extraction.

Butterflies are free to change colors

August 6, 2014 7:59 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. scientists have chosen the most fleeting of mediums for their groundbreaking work on biomimicry: They’ve changed the color of butterfly wings. In so doing, they produced the first structural color change in an animal by influencing evolution. The discovery may have implications for physicists and engineers trying to use evolutionary principles in the design of new materials and devices.

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