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Interactions may matter most for longevity

May 16, 2014 9:42 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

If studying a single gene or a diet that might extend longevity is like searching for a fountain of youth, then a new study calls for looking at something more like the whole watershed. Brown Univ. biologists who experimentally throttled three such factors in fruit flies found that lifespan depended more on interactions among the factors than on the factors themselves.

Roadmap shows how to improve lignocellulosic biofuel biorefining

May 16, 2014 8:00 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

When making cellulosic ethanol from plants, one problem is what to do with a woody agricultural waste product called lignin. The old adage in the pulp industry has been that one can make anything from lignin except money. A new review article in Science points the way toward a future where lignin is transformed from a waste product into valuable materials such as low-cost carbon fiber for cars or bio-based plastics.

DNA double helix measurements

May 15, 2014 12:40 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory and the London Centre for Nanotechnology have determined the structure of DNA from measurements on a single molecule using atomic force microscopy (AFM), and found significant variations in the well-known double helix.

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Synthetic biology still in uncharted waters of public opinion

May 15, 2014 12:36 pm | News | Comments

The Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is releasing the results of a new set of focus groups, which find continued low awareness of synthetic biology among the general public. The focus group results support the findings of a 2013 national poll that found just 23% of respondents reported they had heard a lot (6%) or some (17%) about synthetic biology.

The brain: Key to a better computer

May 15, 2014 8:03 am | by Sue Holmes, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Your brain is incredibly well suited to handling whatever comes along, plus it’s tough and operates on little energy. Those attributes—dealing with real-world situations, resiliency and energy efficiency—are precisely what might be possible with neuro-inspired computing.

A new approach to treating peanut, food allergies

May 14, 2014 11:22 am | News | Comments

These days, more and more people seem to have food allergies, which can sometimes have life-threatening consequences. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report the development of a new type of flour that someday could be used in food-based therapies to help people better tolerate their allergy triggers, including peanuts.

New technology simplifies production of biotech medicines

May 14, 2014 9:24 am | News | Comments

The final step in the production of a biotech medicine is finishing with the correct sugar structure. This step is essential for the efficacy of the medicine, but it also makes the production process very complex and expensive. Researchers in Belgium have developed a technology that shortens the sugar structures whilst retaining the therapeutic efficiency. This technology could make production of biotech medicines simpler and cheaper.

Implanted devices may reshape medicine

May 14, 2014 8:19 am | Videos | Comments

Researchers from The Univ. of Texas at Dallas and the Univ. of Tokyo have created electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can deploy to grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels. These biologically adaptive, flexible transistors might one day help doctors learn more about what is happening inside the body, and stimulate the body for treatments.

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Insight on HIV lifecycle gained through creative use of high-energy x-rays

May 14, 2014 7:59 am | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A key step in the decades-long mystery of the HIV lifecycle was uncovered using what formerly was thought of as only a supplementary x-ray technique for structural biology. This advances study of HIV as well as highlights a powerful tool to obtain currently unobtainable high-resolution structural determination and characterization of RNA molecules.

Technique enables air-stable water droplet networks

May 14, 2014 7:48 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

A simple new technique to form interlocking beads of water in ambient conditions could prove valuable for applications in biological sensing, membrane research and harvesting water from fog. Researchers have developed a method to create air-stable water droplet networks known as droplet interface bilayers. These interconnected water droplets have many roles in biological research because their interfaces simulate cell membranes.

High-tech peg measures palsy patients’ dexterity

May 14, 2014 7:31 am | Videos | Comments

It looks like a game board and many of its users will find it fun, but there’s serious intent behind a device by Rice Univ. students to test the abilities of cerebral palsy patients. At the heart of the DeXcellence platform is a small peg comfortable enough for a three-year-old to hold. But packed inside are enough electronics to tell a nearby computer, tablet or other Bluetooth-enabled device of how the cylinder is moving in space.

All in the rotation

May 12, 2014 3:10 pm | News | Comments

In new work, a research team has shed light on a type of molecular motor used to package the DNA of a number of viruses, including such human pathogens as herpes and the adenoviruses. The scientists found that this viral packaging motor exerts torque to rotate DNA and adapts to changing conditions in order to coordinate its mechano-chemical activity.

Method sneaks drugs into cancer cells before triggering release

May 9, 2014 10:11 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed an anti-cancer drug delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into a cancer cell before triggering its release. The method can be likened to keeping a cancer-killing bomb and its detonator separate until they are inside a cancer cell, where they then combine to destroy the cell.

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Chemotherapy timing is key to success

May 8, 2014 4:00 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have devised a novel cancer treatment that destroys tumor cells by first disarming their defenses, then hitting them with a lethal dose of DNA damage. In studies with mice, the research team showed that this one-two punch, which relies on a nanoparticle that carries two drugs and releases them at different times, dramatically shrinks lung and breast tumors.

Small mutation changes brain freeze to hot foot

May 8, 2014 3:50 pm | News | Comments

Ice cream lovers and hot tea drinkers with sensitive teeth could one day have a reason to celebrate a new finding from Duke Univ. researchers. The scientists have found a very small change in a single protein that turns a cold-sensitive receptor into one that senses heat.

Your brain on speed: Walking doesn’t impair thinking, multitasking

May 8, 2014 2:04 pm | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

When we're strolling down memory lane, our brains recall just as much information while walking as while standing still—findings that contradict the popular science notion that walking hinders one's ability to think. Univ. of Michigan researchers at the School of Kinesiology and the College of Engineering examined how well study participants performed a very complex spatial cognitive task while walking versus standing still.

Scientists create first living organism that transmits unnatural DNA “letters”

May 8, 2014 12:41 pm | News | Comments

Scripps Research Institute scientists have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.

Advanced Photon Source to remain leader in protein structure research for years

May 7, 2014 2:19 pm | by Brian Grabowski, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

No x-ray facility in the world has supported more protein structure research and characterized more proteins than the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Soon this 2/3-mile-in-circumference x-ray instrument will get a boost in efficiency that likely will translate into a big boon for the discovery of new pharmaceuticals and the control of genetic disorders and other diseases, as well as advancing the biotech industry.

Luminescent nanocrystal tags, high-speed scanner enable rapid detection of pathogens

May 7, 2014 7:42 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A research team using tunable luminescent nanocrystals as tags to advance medical and security imaging have successfully applied them to high-speed scanning technology and detected multiple viruses within minutes. The research builds on the team's earlier success in developing a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers.

Where DNA’s copy machine pauses, cancer could be next

May 6, 2014 9:13 am | News | Comments

From time to time, genetic codes aren’t copied and collated properly, leaving gaps or breaks. A comprehensive mapping of these “fragile sites” in yeast by a team of Duke Univ. researchers shows that errors appear in specific areas of the genome where the DNA-copying machinery is slowed or stalled. The study could shed light on abnormalities seen in solid tumors.

New technique tracks proteins in single HIV particle

May 5, 2014 9:10 am | News | Comments

An interdisciplinary team of scientists in Belgium has developed a new technique to examine how proteins interact with each other at the level of a single HIV viral particle. The technique allows scientists to study the life-threatening virus in detail and makes screening potential anti-HIV drugs quicker and more efficient. The technique can also be used to study other diseases.

Research reveals value of large animals in fighting disease

May 5, 2014 8:12 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Evironment | News | Comments

Don't let their cute names fool you: The Mearns' pouch mouse and the delicate mouse can be dangerous. These and other rodents commonly harbor pathogens that can be deadly to humans. According to new research by Stanford Univ. scientists, populations of pathogen-carrying rodents can explode when larger animals die off in an ecosystem, leading to a doubling in the risk of potentially fatal diseases spreading to humans.

Undersea warfare: Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria at hydrothermal vents

May 2, 2014 9:04 am | News | Comments

Microbiologists have recently studied unseen armies of viruses and bacteria as they wage war at hydrothermal vents more than a mile beneath the ocean's surface. They have found that viruses infect bacterial cells to obtain tiny globules of elemental sulfur stored inside the bacterial cells. Instead of stealing this bounty, the viruses force the bacteria to burn their valuable sulfur reserves, then use the unleashed energy to replicate.

Researchers find the accelerator for molecular machines

May 1, 2014 12:04 pm | News | Comments

The principle behind molecular machines is that one must apply some kind of stimulus in order to make it move. A team of researchers from Denmark and the U.S. have been investigating this type of nanoscale structure to determine how to make various parts move. What they have found is unusual: pieces actually go faster when the distance between the starting and stopping point is longer than if it is shorter.

Bioengineers create circuit board modeled on the human brain

April 29, 2014 9:47 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. bioengineers have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain—9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC. This offers greater possibilities for advances in robotics and a new way of understanding the brain. For instance, a chip as fast and efficient as the human brain could drive prosthetic limbs with the speed and complexity of our own actions.

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