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The physics of going viral

June 27, 2012 11:08 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier | News | Comments

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have recently been able, for the first time, to watch viruses infecting individual bacteria by transferring their DNA, and to measure the rate at which that transfer occurs. Previous studies have involved bulk measurements, but the new technique can see the actions of individual viruses.

Conscious perception is a matter of global neural networks

June 12, 2012 6:37 am | News | Comments

Identification of the parts of the brain are responsible for the things that reach our awareness is one of the main puzzles in neurobiology today. New findings from researchers in Europe using electrophysiological methods now support the view that the content of consciousness is not localized in a unique cortical area.

New imaging technique explains why concussions affect people differently

June 8, 2012 6:03 am | News | Comments

Using a recently developed MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging, along with a new analytical software tool designed specifically for examining microstructures, researchers at Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have found that concussion victims have unique spatial patterns of brain abnormalities that change over time.

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How plants make cocaine

June 7, 2012 5:37 am | News | Comments

Cocaine is one of the most commonly used (and abused) plant-derived drugs in the world, but we have almost no modern information on how plants produce this complex nitrogen-containing compound. The recent discovery of the first enzyme in the pathway sheds new light on the evolution of cocaine alkaloids.

Scientists hit major milestone in whole-brain circuit mapping project

June 1, 2012 8:12 am | News | Comments

Neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this week publicly releasing the first installment out of 500 TB of data so far collected in their groundbreaking project to construct the first whole-brain wiring diagram of a vertebrate brain, that of the mouse.

Forensics ferret out fire beetle secret

May 24, 2012 4:42 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany have for years been studying fire beetles of the genus Melanophila and their sophisticated infrared sensors, which these pyrophilous insects use to detect forest fires. They have unraveled the functional principle of this photomechanical sensor and have started to work on a technical reconstruction.

New microscope uses rainbow of light to image blood cell flow

May 21, 2012 7:51 am | News | Comments

Blood tests convey vital medical information, but the sight of a needle often causes anxiety and results take time. A new device developed by a team of researchers in Israel, however, can reveal much the same information as traditional blood test in real-time, simply by shining a light through the skin.

Microscope looks into cells of living fish

May 16, 2012 6:32 am | News | Comments

Microscopes provide valuable insights in the structure and dynamics of cells, in particular when the latter remain in their natural environment. This is difficult to do, but a team of researchers in Germany and the U.S. have now developed a new method to visualize cell structures of an eighth of a micrometer in size in living fish larvae.

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Gene activation follows a circuitous route

May 10, 2012 6:30 am | News | Comments

In order to reactivate silenced genes, a cell needs to remove certain “off” markers called methyl groups from the DNA. Scientists have recently shown that this process involves an intermediate step and an enzyme that also plays a role in the development of blood cancer. The finding could lead to new ideas for cancer-fighting therapies.

Researchers discover oldest known blood

May 8, 2012 11:42 am | News | Comments

His DNA had been decoded; samples from his stomach and intestines have allowed us to reconstruct his very last meal. The circumstances of his violent death appear to have been explained. However, what had, until now, eluded scientists was identifying any traces of blood in Ötzi, the 5,000 year old glacier mummy.

Breathalyzer reveals signs of disease

May 7, 2012 4:29 am | by Miles O'Brien and Jon Baime, Science Nation | News | Comments

One exhale and a new device from researchers at Stony Brook University in New York could screen for anything from diabetes to lung cancer. Based on a sensor chip built from electrospun nanowires that can detect minute amounts of chemical compounds, the device has yet to reach clinical trials. But its inventors anticipate the device to someday cost only $20.

Key mechanism in DNA repair discovered

May 3, 2012 11:41 am | News | Comments

When the DNA double helix breaks, the broken end goes searching for the similar sequence and uses that as a template for repair. Using a new dual-molecule technique, a research group in the Netherlands has found out how the DNA molecule is able to perform this search and recognition process in such an efficient way.

Government to speed tracking of E. coli in meat

May 3, 2012 9:02 am | by Sam Hananel, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new Agriculture Department program will begin tracing the source of potentially contaminated ground beef as soon as there is an initial positive test. Current procedures require USDA officials to wait until additional testing confirms E. coli before starting their investigation. Under the new process, the source could be traced 24 to 48 hours sooner.

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Engineers put the squeeze on cells to diagnose disease

May 2, 2012 3:34 am | by Wileen Wong Kromhout and Matthew Chin | News | Comments

Researchers have taken advantage of cells' physical properties to develop a new instrument that slams cells against a wall of fluid and quickly analyzes the physical response, allowing for the identification of cancer and other cell states without expensive chemical tags.

Test strip rapidly finds bacterial contamination in swimming water

May 1, 2012 11:33 am | News | Comments

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in recreational water within minutes. The new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety.

New form of spectroscopy tracks differentiating cells in real time

May 1, 2012 6:40 am | by Paul Preuss | News | Comments

With the development of synchrotron infrared spectroscopy, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have observed, in real time the process of protein phosphorylation—a chemical interaction that controls everything from cell proliferation to differentiation to metabolism—in living cells stimulated by nerve growth factor.

Bioluminescent technology enables easy tracking of GMO

April 30, 2012 9:16 am | News | Comments

Careful handling and sampling techniques are required to assess the genetically modified content of a crop. The most common technique is polymerase chain reaction (PCR), but it involves complex extraction procedures and rapid thermocycling. Researchers have found that bioluminescent reporters, coupled with isolated amplification, provide sufficient accuracy with far less hassle.

Laser slices mitotic spindle, unraveling theory of its structure

April 27, 2012 3:31 am | by Mureji Fatunde | News | Comments

The mitotic spindle is an apparatus that segregates chromosomes during cell division. But following some nanosurgery conducted by Harvard University, its structure may be more complex than the standard textbook picture suggests. Using a femtosecond laser, researchers have shown the true structure of its protein strands.

Research breakthrough could allow drugs via the skin

April 26, 2012 6:47 am | News | Comments

A research team at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has solved the puzzle of the skin barrier: They have succeeded in describing the structure and function of the outermost layer of the skin—the stratum corneum—at a molecular level. This could enable large-scale delivery of drugs through the skin, or offer a deeper understanding of skin diseases.

Magnetoelectric sensors designed for medical measurement

April 26, 2012 6:33 am | News | Comments

Until the development of a new nanomaterial-based sensor in Germany, the brain’s magnetic field was measurable only under technical laboratory conditions. This prevented the technology’s use in medical applications. The new sensors, however, operate at normal conditions. Neither cooling nor external magnetic bias fields are required.

New X-ray bionanoprobe enables study of cryogenically preserved samples

April 25, 2012 4:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Northwestern University's Department of Radiation Oncology and Argonne National Laboratory recently deployed a new non-destructive X-ray microscopy solution from Xradia to image cryogenically preserved cells and advance studies of intra-cellular biology.

Scientists head to Mount Everest for research

April 22, 2012 1:58 pm | by Binaj Gurubacharya, Associated Press | News | Comments

Mount Everest has attracted climbers and adventurers for nearly 100 years. Now, a team of U.S. scientists have set up a laboratory at the base of the world’s highest mountain to study the effects of high altitude on humans. A team from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota says it plans to monitor nine climbers attempting to scale Everest to learn more about the physiology of humans at high altitudes in order to help patients with heart conditions and other ailments.

History is key factor in plant disease

April 22, 2012 1:52 pm | by Ann Brody Guy | News | Comments

According to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the virulence of plant-borne diseases depends on not just the particular strain of a pathogen, but on where the pathogen has been before landing in its host. The study demonstrates that the pattern of gene regulation, not just gene make-up, plays a big role in the aggressiveness of a microbe.

New brain-machine interface moves a paralyzed hand

April 19, 2012 6:29 pm | News | Comments

A new Northwestern University brain-machine technology delivers messages from the brain directly to the muscles—bypassing the spinal cord—to enable voluntary and complex movement of a paralyzed hand. The device could eventually be tested on, and perhaps aid, paralyzed patients.

Computer-designed molecules point to new therapy for cystic fibrosis

April 19, 2012 6:24 pm | News | Comments

By developing software that uses 3D models of proteins involved in cystic fibrosis, a team of scientists at Duke University has identified several new molecules that may ease the symptoms of the disease.

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