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New tactic targets brain tumors

April 20, 2015 11:41 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

Drugs that target insulin pathways to slow or stop the growth of brain tumors are going in the right direction, but appear to be on the wrong track, according to new research. Through detailed computer models and experiments on two distinct glioblastoma cell types, the researchers have found reason to believe therapies that attack the insulin signaling pathway thought to influence tumor development have had mixed results in trials.

DNA “spool” modification affects aging, longevity

April 17, 2015 10:01 am | by Krishan Ramujan, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Research on a modified protein around which DNA is wrapped sheds light on how gene regulation is...

Zinc deficiency linked to activation of Hedgehog signaling pathway

April 17, 2015 8:03 am | by Mary Martialay, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | News | Comments

Zinc deficiency, long associated with numerous diseases like certain cancers, can lead to...

Tailoring GPC/SEC to Today’s Applications

April 16, 2015 2:04 pm | by Stephen Ball, Product Marketing Manager, Nanoparticleand Molecular Characterization, Malvern Instruments | Articles | Comments

Gel permeation/size exclusion chromatography (GPC/SEC) is a vital analytical technique used to...

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Brain tumors may be new victims of Ebola-like virus

April 16, 2015 11:55 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult for most drugs to reach, but Yale Univ. researchers have found a promising but unlikely new ally against brain cancers, portions of a deadly virus similar to Ebola. A virus containing proteins found in the Lassa virus not only passed through the formidable blood-brain barrier but destroyed brain tumors in mice, according to research released in the Journal of Virology.

New transitional stem cells discovered

April 16, 2015 11:19 am | by Nathan Hurst, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

Pre-eclampsia is a disease that affects 5 to 8% of pregnancies in America. Complications from this disease can lead to emergency cesarean sections early in pregnancies to save the lives of the infants and mothers. Scientists believe pre-eclampsia is caused by a number of factors, including shallow placentas that are insufficiently associated with maternal blood vessels.

Inhibitor for abnormal protein points way to more selective cancer drugs

April 16, 2015 8:20 am | by Dave Zobel, Caltech | News | Comments

Nowhere is the adage "form follows function" more true than in the folded chain of amino acids that makes up a single protein macromolecule. But proteins are very sensitive to errors in their genetic blueprints. One single-letter DNA "misspelling" (called a point mutation) can alter a protein's structure or electric charge distribution enough to render it ineffective or even deleterious.

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BPA exposure in pregnant mice affects fertility in three generations

April 16, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

When scientists exposed pregnant mice to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equivalent to those considered safe in humans, three generations of female mouse offspring experienced significant reproductive problems, including declines in fertility, sexual maturity and pregnancy success, the scientists report in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Scientists uncover how molecule protects brain cells in parkinson's disease model

April 15, 2015 11:37 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

These findings could provide valuable insight into the development of drug candidates that could protect brain cells in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Shape-shifting molecule tricks viruses into mutating themselves to death

April 15, 2015 9:36 am | by Steve Koppes, Univ. of Chicago | News | Comments

A newly developed spectroscopy method is helping to clarify the poorly understood molecular process by which an anti-HIV drug induces lethal mutations in the virus’ genetic material. The findings from the Univ. of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could bolster efforts to develop the next generation of anti-viral treatments.

NMR “fingerprinting” for monoclonal antibodies

April 15, 2015 8:49 am | by NIST | News | Comments

NIST researchers have demonstrated the most precise method yet to measure the structural configuration of monoclonal antibodies, an important factor in determining the safety and efficacy of these biomolecules as medicines. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins manufactured in the laboratory that can target specific disease cells or antigens (proteins that trigger an immune reaction) for removal from the body.

Study shows novel pattern of electrical charge movement through DNA

April 15, 2015 8:03 am | by Richard Harth, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

Electrical charges not only move through wires, they also travel along lengths of DNA, the molecule of life. The property is known as charge transport. In a new study appearing in Nature Chemistry, researchers explore the ways in which electrical charges move along DNA bases affixed to a pair of electrodes.

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DNA data set is potent, accessible tool

April 15, 2015 7:52 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists focused on producing biofuels more efficiently have a new powerful data set to help them study the DNA of microbes that fuel bioconversion and other processes. In a recently published paper, researchers describe methods and results for sequencing the Clostridium autoethanogenum bacterium. These and other microorganisms play important roles in biofuels, agriculture, food production, the environment, health and disease.

Your brain's aging and a new report urges ways to stay sharp

April 14, 2015 4:11 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Those lost car keys that were an annoyance in your 30s can spark major anxiety in your 60s. Turns out it's pretty normal: The brain ages just like the rest of your body, says a new report that urges Americans to take steps to keep sharp in their senior years. The prestigious Institute of Medicine examined what scientists know about "cognitive aging," changes in mental functioning as we get older.

Recruiting the entire immune system to attack cancer

April 14, 2015 11:30 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The human immune system is poised to spring into action at the first sign of a foreign invader, but it often fails to eliminate tumors that arise from the body’s own cells. Cancer biologists hope to harness that untapped power using an approach known as cancer immunotherapy. Orchestrating a successful immune attack against tumors has proven difficult so far, until now.

Researchers find protein that may signal more aggressive prostate cancers

April 14, 2015 8:13 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Univ. of Michigan researchers have discovered a biomarker that may be a potentially important breakthrough in diagnosing and treating prostate cancer. Biomarkers in the body are analogous to the warning lights in cars that signal something might need repairing. In our bodies, they indicate if something's wrong or if we're about to get sick or if we're predisposed to certain illnesses.

Gold by special delivery intensifies cancer-killing radiation

April 14, 2015 7:47 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a promising new way to increase the effectiveness of radiation in killing cancer cells. The approach involves gold nanoparticles tethered to acid-seeking compounds called pHLIPs. The pHLIPs (pH low-insertion peptides) home in on high acidity of malignant cells, delivering their nanoparticle passengers straight to the cells’ doorsteps.

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Plant cell structure discovery could lead to improved renewable materials

April 10, 2015 12:07 pm | by Univ. of Warwick | News | Comments

The step forward follows research by the Univs. of Warwick and Cambridge and the unexpected discovery of a previously unknown arrangement of molecules in plant cell walls. The researchers investigated the polymer xylan, which comprises a third of wood matter.

Bacteria tracked feeding nitrogen to nutrient-starved plants

April 10, 2015 11:19 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

With rising populations and changing climate conditions, the need for resilient and reliable crops has never been greater. Nitrogen, an essential element for plant growth, is often woefully absent in heavily farmed land. Earth’s atmosphere offers an overabundance of nitrogen, but how can it be safely and sustainably transferred into the soil? Nitrogen-eating bacteria may be the answer.

Researchers deliver large particles into cells at high speed

April 9, 2015 12:06 pm | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A new device developed by Univ. of California, Los Angeles, engineers and doctors may eventually help scientists study the development of disease, enable them to capture improved images of the inside of cells and lead to other improvements in medical and biological research.

Detecting lysosomal pH with fluorescent probes

April 9, 2015 11:51 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

Lysosomes are the garbage disposals of animal cells. As the resources are limited in cells, organic materials are broken down and recycled a lot; and that’s what lysosomes do. Detecting problems with lysosomes is the focus of a new set of fluorescent probes developed by researchers at Michigan Technological Univ.

A digital field guide to cancer cells

April 9, 2015 10:10 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are mapping the habits of cancer cells, turn by microscopic turn. Using advanced technology and an approach that merges engineering and medicine, a Yale Univ.-led team has compiled some of the most sophisticated data yet on the elaborate signaling networks directing highly invasive cancer cells. Think of it as a digital field guide for a deadly scourge.

Amniotic stem cells demonstrate healing potential

April 9, 2015 7:41 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are using stem cells from amniotic fluid to promote the growth of functional blood vessels in healing hydrogels. In new experiments, the scientists combined versatile amniotic stem cells with injectable hydrogels used as scaffolds in regenerative medicine and proved they enhance the development of vessels needed to bring blood to new tissue and carry waste products away.

Biologists identify brain tumor weakness

April 9, 2015 7:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biologists have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors. The study found that a subset of glioblastoma tumor cells is dependent on a particular enzyme that breaks down the amino acid glycine. Without this enzyme, toxic metabolic byproducts build up inside the tumor cells, and they die.

Complex organic molecules discovered in infant star system: hints that prebiotic chemistry is universal

April 8, 2015 2:21 pm | by National Radio Astronomy Observatory | News | Comments

For the first time, astronomers have detected the presence of complex organic molecules, the building blocks of life, in a protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star, suggesting once again that the conditions that spawned our Earth and Sun are not unique in the universe.

Food for thought: Master protein enhances learning and memory

April 8, 2015 8:54 am | by The Salk Institute | News | Comments

Just as some people seem built to run marathons and have an easier time going for miles without tiring, others are born with a knack for memorizing things, from times tables to trivia facts. These two skills are not so different as it turns out. Salk scientists and collaborators have discovered that physical and mental activities rely on a single metabolic protein that controls the flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body.

Possible new RNA engineering tool

April 8, 2015 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A great deal of public attention in the past couple of years has been showered on complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas” for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA. Now, researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are reporting that CRISPR-Cas complexes could also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Spotting a molecular warhead for disease in the human gut

April 7, 2015 12:20 pm | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. scientists are using new chemical tools to identify and understand molecules in the human gut that alter DNA and regulate inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancers. In a recent article, researchers describe the chemical structures of 32 such molecules from the bacterial colibactin pathway, found in select strains of E. coli in the gut.

Cells exercise suboptimal strategy to survive

April 6, 2015 10:42 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

There are few times in life when one should aim for suboptimal performance, but new research at Rice Univ. suggests scientists who study metabolism and its role in evolution should look for signs of just that. A study published in BMC Systems Biology details a computational method called corsoFBA.

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