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Study: Gene therapy may boost cochlear implants

April 24, 2014 7:45 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Australian researchers are trying a novel way to boost the power of cochlear implants: They used the technology to beam gene therapy into the ears of deaf animals and found the combination improved hearing. The approach reported Wednesday isn't ready for human testing, but it's part of growing research into ways to let users of cochlear implants experience richer, more normal sound.

Study identifies enzymes that help fix cancer-causing DNA defects

April 23, 2014 7:47 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have identified an important enzyme pathway that helps prevent new...

Cloaked DNA nanodevices survive pilot mission

April 22, 2014 9:13 am | by Dan Ferber, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

It's a familiar trope in science fiction: In enemy territory, activate your cloaking device. And...

Fast way to measure DNA repair

April 22, 2014 8:55 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Our DNA is under constant attack from many sources. Fortunately, cells have several major DNA...

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Students take clot-buster for a spin

April 22, 2014 7:46 am | Videos | Comments

In the hands of some Rice Univ. senior engineering students, a fishing rod is more than what it seems. For them, it’s a way to help destroy blood clots that threaten lives. Branding themselves as “Team Evacuator,” five students have been testing a device to break up blood clots that form in the bladders of adult patients and currently have to be removed by suction through a catheter in the urethra.

Tracking oxygen in the body

April 22, 2014 7:34 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells thrive when deprived of oxygen. Tumors in low-oxygen environments tend to be more resistant to therapy and spread more aggressively to other parts of the body. Measuring tumors’ oxygen levels could help doctors make decisions about treatments, but there’s currently no way to make such measurements. However, a new sensor developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could change that.

MRI, on a molecular scale

April 21, 2014 8:51 am | by Peter Reuell, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A team of scientists, led by physicist Amir Yacoby of Harvard Univ., has developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that can produce nanoscale images, and may one day allow researchers to peer into the atomic structure of individual molecules. Though not yet precise enough to capture atomic-scale images of a single molecule, the system already has been used to capture images of single electron spins.

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Unlocking a mystery of human disease in space

April 21, 2014 7:45 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Huntington's disease is a grim diagnosis. A hereditary disorder with debilitating physical and cognitive symptoms, the disease usually robs adult patients of their ability to walk, balance and speak. More than 15 years ago, researchers revealed the disorder's likely cause—an abnormal version of the protein huntingtin; however, the mutant protein's mechanism is poorly understood, and the disease remains untreatable.

Hawaii is genetically engineered crop flash point

April 19, 2014 10:20 am | by Audrey Mcavoy - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii. The tiny island state 2,500 miles from the nearest continent is so critical to the nation's modern corn-growing business that the industry's leading companies all have farms here, growing new varieties genetically engineered for desirable traits like insect and drought resistance.

Multi-target TB drug could treat other disease, evade resistance

April 18, 2014 7:47 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

A drug under clinical trials to treat tuberculosis could be the basis for a class of broad-spectrum drugs that act against various bacteria, fungal infections and parasites, yet evade resistance, according to a study by Univ. of Illinois chemists and collaborators. The team determined the different ways the drug SQ109 attacks the tuberculosis bacterium and how the drug can be tweaked to target other pathogens from yeast to malaria.

Proper stem cell function requires hydrogen sulfide

April 17, 2014 3:02 pm | by Beth Newcomb, USC | News | Comments

A new study has discovered that stem cells in bone marrow need to produce hydrogen sulfide in order to properly multiply and form bone tissue. The presence of hydrogen sulfide produced by the cells governs the flow of calcium ions, which activates a chain of cellular signals that results in osteogenesis, or the creation of new bone tissue, and keeps the breakdown of old bone tissue at a proper level.

The trials of the Cherokee were reflected in their skulls

April 17, 2014 12:00 pm | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

From far away, the top of a leaf looks like one seamless surface; however, up close, that smooth exterior is actually made up of a patchwork of cells in a variety of shapes and sizes. Interested in how these cells individually take on their own unique forms, a team sought to pinpoint the shape-controlling factors in pavement cells, which are puzzle-piece-shaped epithelial cells found on the leaves of flowering plants.

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For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes

April 17, 2014 11:54 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

From far away, the top of a leaf looks like one seamless surface; however, up close, that smooth exterior is actually made up of a patchwork of cells in a variety of shapes and sizes. Interested in how these cells individually take on their own unique forms, a Caltech team sought to pinpoint the shape-controlling factors in pavement cells, which are puzzle-piece-shaped epithelial cells found on the leaves of flowering plants.

Researchers develop new antiviral drug to combat measles outbreaks

April 17, 2014 7:57 am | News | Comments

A novel antiviral drug may protect people infected with the measles from getting sick and prevent them from spreading the virus to others, an international team of researchers says. The team of researchers developed the drug and tested it in animals infected with a virus closely related to one that causes the measles. As reported, virus levels were significantly reduced when infected animals received the drug by mouth.

New technique will accelerate genetic characterization of photosynthesis

April 16, 2014 9:12 am | News | Comments

A type of single-cell green algae called Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a leading subject for photosynthesis research, but few tools are available for characterizing the functions of its genes. A team including Carnegie Institution's Martin Jonikas has developed a highly sophisticated tool that will transform the work of plant geneticists by making large-scale genetic characterization of Chlamydomonas mutants possible for the first time.

Potent, puzzling and (now less) toxic: Team discovers how antifungal drug works

April 15, 2014 5:18 pm | by Diana Yates, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

Scientists have solved a decades-old medical mystery, and in the process have found a potentially less toxic way to fight invasive fungal infections, which kill about 1.5 million people a year. The researchers say they now understand the mechanism of action of amphotericin, an antifungal drug that has been in use for more than 50 years even though it is nearly as toxic to human cells as it is to the microbes it attacks.

Astronomers: ‘Tilt-a-worlds’ could harbor life

April 15, 2014 3:17 pm | by Peter Kelley, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

A fluctuating tilt in a planet’s orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by a team of astronomers. In fact, sometimes it helps because such “tilt-a-worlds,” as astronomers sometimes call them, are less likely than fixed-spin planets to freeze over, as heat from their host star is more evenly distributed.

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Targeting cancer with a triple threat

April 15, 2014 7:38 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Delivering chemotherapy drugs in nanoparticle form could help reduce side effects by targeting the drugs directly to the tumors. In recent years, scientists have developed nanoparticles that deliver one or two chemotherapy drugs, but it has been difficult to design particles that can carry any more than that in a precise ratio. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have devised a new way to build such nanoparticles.

New finding on the dual role of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis

April 14, 2014 10:03 am | News | Comments

It is well known that inorganic carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, CO2, is reduced in a light driven process known as photosynthesis to organic compounds in the chloroplasts. Less well known is that inorganic carbon also affects the rate of the photosynthetic electron transport. Researchers in Sweden have recently found that its ionic form bicarbonate, has a regulating function in the splitting of water in photosynthesis.

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

April 14, 2014 8:00 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

In a new study, researchers from North Carolina State Univ., UNC-Chapel Hill and other institutions have taken the first steps toward creating a roadmap that may help scientists narrow down the genetic cause of numerous diseases. Their work also sheds new light on how heredity and environment can affect gene expression.

Enzyme “wrench” could be key to stronger, more effective antibiotics

April 11, 2014 10:10 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Builders and factory workers know that getting a job done right requires precision and specialized tools. The same is true when you’re building antibiotic compounds at the molecular level. New findings from North Carolina State Univ. may turn an enzyme that acts as a specialized “wrench” in antibiotic assembly into a set of wrenches that will allow for greater customization.

Mechanical forces affect T-cell recognition, signaling

April 11, 2014 8:04 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

T-cells use a complex process to recognize foreign pathogens and diseased cells. In a paper published in Cell, researchers add a new level of understanding to that process by describing how the T-cell receptors use mechanical contact—the forces involved in their binding to the antigens—to make decisions about whether or not the cells they encounter are threats.

How the brain pays attention

April 11, 2014 7:43 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Picking out a face in the crowd is a complicated task: Your brain has to retrieve the memory of the face you’re seeking, then hold it in place while scanning the crowd, paying special attention to finding a match. A new study reveals how the brain achieves this type of focused attention on faces or other objects.

Researchers using math to whittle away at jet lag

April 10, 2014 5:22 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Lots of apps claim they can help you fight jet lag. Now Michigan researchers say mathematical formulas suggest it's possible to adjust to new time zones a bit faster than previously thought, and they created their own free app to help. Doctors have long said exposure to light is key. But how much, and when?

Creating a new bone tissue generation technique

April 10, 2014 11:27 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Texas at Arlington and Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital are investigating whether bone grown from the body’s own stem cells can replace traditional types of bone grafting. The process, which has been successful in previous lab experiments, uses biodegradable polymer scaffolding material and bone morphogenetic protein, or BMP, which was inserted into the abdomen of mice to attract stem cells that in turn produced bone.

The motion of the medium matters for self-assembling particles

April 10, 2014 8:16 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

By attaching short sequences of single-stranded DNA to nanoscale building blocks, researchers can design structures that can effectively build themselves. The building blocks that are meant to connect have complementary DNA sequences on their surfaces, ensuring only the correct pieces bind together as they jostle into one another while suspended in a test tube.

Synthetic collagen promotes natural clotting

April 10, 2014 8:04 am | News | Comments

Synthetic collagen invented at Rice Univ. may help wounds heal by directing the natural clotting of blood. The material, KOD, mimics natural collagen, a fibrous protein that binds cells together into organs and tissues. It could improve upon commercial sponges or therapies based on naturally derived porcine or bovine-derived collagen now used to aid healing during or after surgery.

Noses, made in Britain: UK touts lab-grown organs

April 9, 2014 3:12 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in a bold attempt to make body parts in the laboratory. It's far from the only laboratory in the world that is growing organs for potential transplant. But the London work was showcased this week hints at the availability of more types of body parts, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells.

Japan stem cell researcher says results valid

April 9, 2014 10:20 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Japanese scientist accused of falsifying data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper said Wednesday the results are valid despite mistakes in their presentation. Haruko Obokata, 30, struggled to maintain her composure during a televised news conference packed with hundreds of reporters, but insisted she did not tamper with the data to fabricate results.

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