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Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

December 16, 2014 7:50 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology implicates a family of RNA-binding proteins in the regulation of cancer, particularly in a subtype of breast cancer. These proteins, known as Musashi proteins, can force cells into a state associated with increased proliferation.

Molecular “hats” allow in vivo activation of disguised signaling peptides

December 15, 2014 11:42 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

When someone you know is wearing an unfamiliar hat, you might not recognize them. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are using just such a disguise to sneak biomaterials containing peptide signaling molecules into living animals. When the disguised peptides are needed to launch biological processes, the researchers shine ultraviolet light onto the molecules through the skin, causing the "hat" structures to come off.

Squid supplies blueprint for printable thermoplastics

December 15, 2014 10:37 am | by Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Squid, what is it good for? You can eat it and you can make ink or dye from it, and now a Penn State Univ. team of researchers is using it to make a thermoplastic that can be used in 3-D printing. The team looked at the protein complex that exists in the squid ring teeth (SRT). The naturally made material is a thermoplastic, but obtaining it requires a large amount of effort and many squid.

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Fish use chemical camouflage from diet to hide from predators

December 15, 2014 8:43 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A species of small fish uses a homemade coral-scented cologne to hide from predators, a new study has shown, providing the first evidence of chemical camouflage from diet in fish. Filefish evade predators by feeding on their home corals and emitting an odor that makes them invisible to the noses of predators, the study found.

New method helps map species’ genetic heritage

December 15, 2014 8:20 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Where did the songbird get its song? What branch of the bird family tree is closer to the flamingo: the heron or the sparrow? These questions seem simple, but are actually difficult for geneticists to answer. A new, sophisticated statistical technique developed by researchers can help researchers construct more accurate species trees detailing the lineage of genes and the relationships between species.

3-D maps reveal the genome’s origami code

December 15, 2014 8:13 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation—a kind of “genomic origami” that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. The research appears online in Cell.

3-D maps reveal the genome's origami code

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | Videos | Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation -- a kind of "genomic origami" that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. 

Cause of malaria drug resistance in SE Asia identified

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | News | Comments

Growing resistance to malaria drugs in Southeast Asia is caused by a single mutated gene inside the disease-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite. This finding provides public health officials around the world with a way to look for pockets of emerging resistance and potentially eliminate them before they spread.

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New technology tracks carcinogens as they move through the body

December 11, 2014 12:17 pm | by Oregon State University | News | Comments

Researchers for the first time have developed a method to track through the human body the movement of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, as extraordinarily tiny amounts of these potential carcinogens are biologically processed and eliminated.

Meniscus regenerated with 3-D-printed implant

December 11, 2014 8:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers have devised a way to replace the knee’s protective lining, called the meniscus, using a personalized 3D-printed implant, or scaffold, infused with human growth factors that prompt the body to regenerate the lining on its own. The therapy, successfully tested in sheep, could provide the first effective and long-lasting repair of damaged menisci.

Metal test could help diagnose breast cancer early

December 9, 2014 5:19 pm | News | Comments

It may be possible to develop a simple blood test that, by detecting changes in the zinc in our bodies, could help to diagnose breast cancer early.                                 

Scientists re-create what may be life's first spark

December 9, 2014 11:34 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Scientists in a lab used a powerful laser to re-create what might have been the original spark of life on Earth. The researchers zapped clay and a chemical soup with the laser to simulate the energy of a speeding asteroid smashing into the planet.

DNA double-strand break process visualized for the first time

December 9, 2014 11:17 am | by CNIO | News | Comments

Scientists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), have developed a method for producing biological crystals that has allowed scientists to observe— for the first time— DNA double chain breaks.           

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Injectable 3-D vaccines could fight cancer, infectious diseases

December 8, 2014 4:13 pm | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | News | Comments

One of the reasons cancer is so deadly is that it can evade attack from the body's immune system, which allows tumors to flourish and spread. Scientists can try to induce the immune system, known as immunotherapy, to go into attack mode to fight cancer and to build long lasting immune resistance to cancer cells. Now, researchers have developed a non–surgical injection of programmable biomaterial to do so.

Solid-state proteins maximize the intensity of fluorescent-protein-based lasers

December 8, 2014 4:03 pm | by Massachusetts General Hospital | News | Comments

The same research team that developed the first laser based on a living cell has shown that use of fluorescent proteins in a solid form rather than in solution greatly increases the intensity of light produced, an accomplishment that takes advantage of natural protein structures surrounding the light-emitting portions of the protein molecules.

X-ray laser acts as tool to tack life’s chemistry

December 8, 2014 9:03 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

An international research team that includes researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has captured the highest-resolution protein snapshots ever taken with an x-ray laser, revealing how a key protein in a photosynthetic bacterium changes shape when hit by light.

Resistance and futility

December 8, 2014 8:09 am | by Elizabeth Cooney, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Penicillin, the wonder drug discovered in 1928, works in ways that are still mysterious almost a century later. One of the oldest and most widely used antibiotics, it attacks enzymes that build the bacterial cell wall, a mesh that surrounds the bacterial membrane and gives the cells their integrity and shape. Once that wall is breached, bacteria die, allowing us to recover from infection.

How stem cells can be activated to help immune system fight infection

December 5, 2014 10:49 am | by Peter Bracke, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

In a recent study, Univ. of California, Los Angeles scientists have shown that two genes not previously known to be involved with the immune system play a crucial role in how progenitor stem cells are activated to fight infection. This discovery lays the groundwork for a better understanding of the role progenitor cells can play in immune system response and could lead to the development of more effective therapies for diseases.

Yale joins with leader in 3-D organ printing to transform transplants

December 5, 2014 10:28 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Yale Univ. have joined forces with a leading 3-D biology company, Organovo, to develop 3-D printed tissues for transplant research. As the number of donors for vital tissue and organ transplants decreases worldwide and the demand for transplants increases, 3-D bioprinting technology offers a solution to a long-standing and growing problem.

Wireless brain sensor could unchain neuroscience from cables

December 5, 2014 10:19 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

In a study in Neuron, scientists describe a new high data-rate, low-power wireless brain sensor. The technology is designed to enable neuroscience research that cannot be accomplished with current sensors that tether subjects with cabled connections. Experiments in the paper confirm that new capability.

Researchers to use algae to clean up mine water

December 5, 2014 10:04 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

A groundbreaking research project by the GW4 Alliance aims to clean up water from a Cornish tin mine, using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals and produce biofuel at the same time. GW4 brings together the South West and Wales’ four leading, research-intensive universities: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Research paves way for nanomovies of biomolecules

December 5, 2014 9:42 am | by Joe Caspermeyer, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

An international team of researchers have caught a light-sensitive biomolecule at work using an x-ray laser. Their new study proves that high speed x-ray lasers can capture the fast dynamics of biomolecules in ultra slow-motion, revealing subtle processes with unprecedented clarity.

Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks

December 5, 2014 9:23 am | by Vanderbilt Univ. | Videos | Comments

The electric eel—the scaleless Amazonian fish that can deliver an electrical jolt strong enough to knock down a full-grown horse—possesses an electroshock system uncannily similar to a Taser. That’s the conclusion of a nine-month study of the way in which the electric eel uses high-voltage electrical discharges to locate and incapacitate its prey. 

Scientists uncover four-stranded elements of maize DNA

December 5, 2014 8:59 am | by Florida State Univ. | News | Comments

A team led by Florida State Univ. researchers has identified DNA elements in maize that could affect the expression of hundreds or thousands of genes. The team wanted to know if certain DNA structures such as the four-strand G-quadruplex (G4) DNA might exist throughout the genetic material of maize.

A poisonous cure

December 5, 2014 8:53 am | by Michigan State Univ. Media Communications | News | Comments

Take two poisonous mushrooms, and call me in the morning. While no doctor would ever write this prescription, toxic fungi may hold the secrets to tackling deadly diseases. A team of Michigan State Univ. scientists has discovered an enzyme that is the key to the lethal potency of poisonous mushrooms.

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