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The Lead

Zeroing in on a silent killer

April 24, 2015 8:16 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

One in three Americans has high blood pressure, a long-term constriction of arteries that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Using a sophisticated x-ray analysis, a U.S.-German team of scientists revealed the molecular structure of the angiotensin receptor AT1R, an important regulator for blood pressure in the human body.

New DNA codes for mammoths: Step toward bringing them back?

April 23, 2015 2:05 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are getting their best look yet at the DNA code for the woolly mammoth, thanks to...

Nondestructive 3-D imaging of biological cells with sound

April 23, 2015 8:28 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Much like magnetic resonance imaging is able to scan the interior of the human body, the...

Nanoparticle drug reverses Parkinson’s-like symptoms in rats

April 22, 2015 11:26 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As baby boomers age, the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease is expected to...

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Decoding the cell’s genetic filing system

April 22, 2015 11:09 am | by Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

A fully extended strand of human DNA measures about five feet in length. Yet it occupies a space just one-tenth of a cell by wrapping itself around histones to form a dense hub of information called chromatin. Access to these meticulously packed genes is regulated by post-translational modifications, chemical changes to the structure of histones that act as on-off signals for gene transcription.

Scientists watch living taste cells in action

April 22, 2015 10:08 am | by Australian National Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have, for the first time, captured live images of the process of taste sensation on the tongue. The international team imaged single cells on the tongue of a mouse with a specially designed microscope system.

Engineering the P450 enzyme to perform new reactions

April 22, 2015 8:24 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Enzymes, the micro machines in our cells, can evolve to perform new tasks when confronted with novel situations. But what if you want an enzyme to do an entirely different job—one that it would never have to do in a cell? In a recent report published in ACS Central Science, researchers show that they can mimic nature and perform evolution in a test tube, developing enzymes that can perform brand-new chemical reactions.

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3-D structure solved for vulnerable region of glaucoma-causing protein

April 22, 2015 7:53 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Scientists have determined the 3-D structure of a key part of a protein that is associated with glaucoma and identified regions of this domain that correlate with severe forms of the disease. The new crystal structure is of the olfactomedin (OLF) domain in myocilin, a protein implicated in glaucoma. Many proteins have OLF domains, but mutations in the OLF domain of myocilin are linked to early-onset glaucoma.

A better grasp of primate grip

April 21, 2015 10:59 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability of humans and other primates throughout history. In a new study, a research team led by Yale Univ. found that even the oldest known human ancestors may have had precision grip capabilities comparable to modern humans. This includes Australopithecus afarensis, which appears in the fossil record a million years before the first evidence of stone tools.

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 linked to aging and longevity in nematodes, fruit flies and possibly humans. The research has implications for how gene expression is regulated, and could offer a new drug target for age-related diseases.

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 activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway, a biomolecular pathway that plays essential roles in developing organisms and in diseases, according to new research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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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 characterize synthetic and natural polymers, including biologically important macromolecules such as proteins and DNA. Evolving challenges tax the capabilities of traditional GPC/SEC and invite advances in the technology.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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