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Fish-eye view could offer insights for human vision

August 3, 2012 5:23 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner | News | Comments

Zeran Li, as an undergraduate student in biological sciences at Purdue University, led a research team that uncovered an enzyme's role in the regulation of eye size in the fish. If the enzyme's role is similar in human eyes, it could be relevant to human vision problems, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.

In fly DNA, the footprint of a fly virus

August 2, 2012 5:10 am | News | Comments

In a curious evolutionary twist, biologists from the University of Buffalo report, several species of a commonly studied fruit fly appear to have incorporated genetic material from a virus into their genomes. This discovery of virus-like genes in the DNA of a commonly studied fruit fly could enable research on whether animals hijack viral genes as an anti-viral defense.

Study: Brain imaging can predict how intelligent you are

August 1, 2012 11:57 am | News | Comments

When it comes to intelligence, what factors distinguish the brains of exceptionally smart humans from those of average humans? Size and prefrontal cortex activity contribute, but new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that another 10% of individual differences in intelligence can be explained by the strength of neural pathways connecting the left prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain.

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Liquid-filled fiber optics boosts chemiluminescence research

August 1, 2012 4:34 am | News | Comments

Processing biological samples on a small substrate the size of a computer chip is becoming a common task for biotechnology applications. Given the small working area, however, probing samples on the substrate with light can be difficult. Researchers in Singapore have now developed an optical fiber system that is able to deliver light to microfluidic chips with high efficiency.

“Diving board” sensors engineered to detect DNA

July 30, 2012 4:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Drexel University are in the process of refining a sensor technology that they developed to measure samples at the cellular level. Constructed from a tiny vibrating piezoelectric cantilever, the sensor may become an accurate method for quickly detecting traces of DNA in liquid samples.

Wyss Institute aims to mimic whole human body with organ-on-chip

July 27, 2012 7:35 am | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University this week reported that it will receive up to $37 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop an automated instrument that integrates 10 human organs-on-chips to study complex human physiology outside the body. The aim is to simulate the entire body’s physiology.

Insights into protein folding may lead to better flu vaccine

July 26, 2012 3:36 am | by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University | News | Comments

A new method for looking at how proteins fold inside mammal cells is allowing researchers to take snapshots of the cell's protein-making machinery—called ribosomes—in various stages of protein production. The scientists can then piece together the snapshots to reconstruct how proteins fold during their synthesis. The findings could one day lead to better flu vaccines, the researchers say.

Researchers find clues to explain life’s left-handedness

July 25, 2012 8:42 am | by Bill Steigerwald | News | Comments

Researchers analyzing meteorite fragments that fell on a frozen lake in Canada have developed an explanation for the origin of life's handedness—why living things only use molecules with specific orientations. The work also gave the strongest evidence to date that liquid water inside an asteroid leads to a strong preference of left-handed over right-handed forms of some common protein amino acids in meteorites.

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Supercomputer simulates cartilage in human knee joints

July 25, 2012 7:16 am | News | Comments

A Cleveland Clinic research team is developing virtual models of human knee joints to better understand how tissues and their individual cells react to heavy loads—virtual models that someday can be used to understand damage mechanisms caused by the aging process or debilitating diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

Protein study brings muscle movement into sharper focus

July 23, 2012 6:58 am | News | Comments

Muscle contractions are controlled by the interplay between myosin and actin filaments and two other proteins, tropomyosin and troponin, which regulate how myosin binds to actin. Theoretical models have described exactly how these muscle proteins interact, but until now it has never been observed in detail. Researchers managed to image the actin-myosin-tropomyosin complex with an unprecedented accuracy of 0.8 nm.

Genomic sequencing method offers “smarter” cell analysis

July 23, 2012 5:10 am | News | Comments

Recent research shows for the first time that a new genomic sequencing method called Smart-Seq can help scientists conduct in-depth analyses of clinically relevant single cells. The method builds on knowledge of splicing, in which it is common for one gene to give rise to several forms of the same protein through different cut-and-paste configurations of its raw copy.

What happens when we sunburn

July 9, 2012 6:53 am | News | Comments

According to a report from research on the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the biological mechanism of sunburn—the reddish, painful, protective immune response from UV radiation—is a consequence of RNA damage to skin cells. The findings open the way to perhaps eventually blocking the inflammatory process, the scientists said, and have implications for a range of medical conditions and treatments.

Launch of organs-on-a-chip

July 6, 2012 8:45 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and their spin-off company Mimetas are set to soon launch their ’organs-on-a-chip’ product for drug development. These devices are composed of hundreds of micro-organs mimicked on a chip, with minuscule channels that serve as blood vessels.

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Nanotherapeutic delivers clot-busters straight to blood vessels

July 6, 2012 8:42 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Harvard University have developed a novel biomimetic strategy that delivers life-saving nanotherapeutics directly to obstructed blood vessels, dissolving blood clots before they cause serious damage or even death. This new approach enables thrombus dissolution while using only a fraction of the drug dose normally required, minimizing bleeding side effects that currently limit the use of clot-busting drugs.

FDA panel sees little use for metal-on-metal hips

July 2, 2012 6:38 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

Government health experts said Thursday there are few reasons to continue using metal-on-metal hip implants, amid growing evidence that the devices can break down early and expose patients to dangerous metallic particles. The devices were originally marketed as a longer-lasting alternative to older ceramic and plastic models. But recent data from the U.K. and other foreign countries suggests they are more likely to deteriorate.

Microscopy method visualizes E. coli innards in 3D

June 29, 2012 12:31 pm | by Steve McGaughey | News | Comments

Combining an algorithm with a recently-developed add-on technique for commercial microscopes, University of Illinois researchers have created a fast, non-invasive 3D method for studying cells without the use of fluorescence or contrast agents. They recently used the advance to reveal helical sub-cellular structure inside E. coli .

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.

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.

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.

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