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“Measuring stick” standard for gene sequencing now available

May 22, 2015 10:53 am | by NIST | News | Comments

The world’s first reference material to help ensure laboratories accurately “map” DNA for genetic testing, medical diagnoses and future customized drug therapies is now available from NIST. The new reference material, NIST RM 8398, is a “measuring stick” for the human genome, the coded blueprints of a person’s genetic traits.

Bacteria cooperate to repair damaged siblings

May 22, 2015 8:17 am | by Chad Baldwin, Univ. of Wyoming | News | Comments

A Univ. of Wyoming faculty member led a research team that discovered a certain type of soil...

Watching a protein “quake”

May 22, 2015 8:06 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists, for the first time, have precisely measured a protein’s natural “knee-jerk” reaction...

Nicotinoid, fungal disease team to break down termites’ defenses

May 22, 2015 7:31 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. research shows that a small amount of nicotinoid pesticide substantially weakens...

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Freshly squeezed vaccines

May 22, 2015 7:23 am | by Kevin Leonardi, Koch Institute | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have shown that they can use a microfluidic cell-squeezing device to introduce specific antigens inside the immune system’s B cells, providing a new approach to developing and implementing antigen-presenting cell vaccines.

Anti-stroke drug effective treatment for middle-ear infections

May 21, 2015 3:13 pm | by LaTina Emerson, Georgia State Univ. | News | Comments

An existing anti-stroke drug is an effective treatment for middle-ear infections, showing the ability to suppress mucus overproduction, improve bacterial clearance and reduce hearing loss, according to researchers at Georgia State Univ. and the Univ. of Rochester. The findings could result in a novel, non-antibiotic treatment for otitis media, or middle-ear infection, possibly through topical drug delivery.

Device captures rare circulating tumor cell clusters

May 21, 2015 7:41 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

The latest version of a microfluidic device for capturing rare circulating tumor cells is the first designed specifically to capture clusters of two or more cells, rather than single cells. The new device, called the Cluster-Chip, was developed by the same Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team that created previous microchip-based devices.

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Cancer drugs may hold key to treating Down syndrome

May 20, 2015 7:51 am | by Ian Demsky, Univ. of Michigan | Videos | Comments

A class of FDA-approved cancer drugs may be able to prevent problems with brain cell development associated with disorders including Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, researchers at the Univ. of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have found. The researchers' proof-of-concept study using fruit fly models of brain dysfunction was published in eLife.

How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

May 18, 2015 10:57 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

Stem cell "Wild West" takes root amid lack of U.S. regulation

May 18, 2015 2:04 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The liquid is dark red, a mixture of fat and blood, and Dr. Mark Berman pumps it out of the patient's backside. He treats it with a chemical, runs it through a processor and injects it into the woman's aching knees and elbows. The "soup," he says, is rich in shape-shifting stem cells: magic bullets that, according to some doctors, can be used to treat everything from Parkinson's disease to asthma to this patient's chronic osteoarthritis.

Findings reveal clues to functioning of mysterious “mimivirus”

May 14, 2015 4:16 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered the structure of a key protein on the surface of an unusually large virus called the mimivirus, aiding efforts to determine its hosts and unknown functions. The mimivirus was initially thought to be a bacterium because it is much larger than most viruses. It was isolated by French scientists in 1992 but wasn't confirmed to be a virus until 2003.

Educating the immune system to prevent allergies

May 14, 2015 10:08 am | by Julie Robert, McGill Univ. | News | Comments

With the arrival of spring, millions of people have begun their annual ritual of sneezing and wheezing due to seasonal allergies. A research team is bringing people hope with a potential vaccine that nudges the immune response away from developing allergies. The findings have clinical implications since allergies and asthma are lifelong conditions that often start in childhood and for which there is presently no cure.

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New target for anti-malaria drugs

May 14, 2015 9:06 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

A new target for drug development in the fight against the deadly disease malaria has been discovered by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a recently published paper, the researchers describe how they identified the drug target while studying the way in which the parasites Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, and Plasmodium, which causes malaria, access vital nutrients from their host cells.

Digitizing neurons

May 14, 2015 8:21 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Supercomputing resources at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support a new initiative designed to advance how scientists digitally reconstruct and analyze individual neurons in the human brain. Led by the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the BigNeuron project aims to create a common platform for analyzing the 3-D structure of neurons.

Infant antibiotic use linked to adult diseases

May 14, 2015 8:02 am | by Lacey Nygard, Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

A new study led by researchers at the Univ. of Minnesota has found a three-way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in the gut bacteria and disease later in life. The imbalances in gut microbes, called dysbiosis, have been tied to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and obesity later in life.

Molecular switch that promotes heart cell maturation discovered

May 13, 2015 7:34 am | by Michael McCarthy, Univ. of Washington Health Services | News | Comments

A molecular switch that seems to be essential for embryonic heart cells to grow into more mature, adult-like heart cells has been discovered. The discovery should help scientist better understand how human hearts mature. Of particular interest to stem cell and regenerative medicine researchers, the finding may lead to laboratory methods to create heart cells that function more like those found in adult hearts.

Measurement of a single nuclear spin in biological samples

May 11, 2015 12:06 pm | by Univ. of Basel | News | Comments

Physicists were able to show, for the first time, that the nuclear spins of single molecules can be detected with the help of magnetic particles at room temperature. The researchers describe a novel experimental setup with which the tiny magnetic fields of the nuclear spins of single biomolecules could be registered for the first time.

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Damming hemorrhagic diseases

May 11, 2015 8:50 am | by Univ. of Montreal | News | Comments

A potential mechanism to combat diseases caused by haemorrhagic fever viruses has been discovered by researchers at the Univ. of Montreal's Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. These diseases present a dramatic risk to human health as they often spread quickly and kill a high percentage of infected individuals, as demonstrated by the recent Ebola outbreaks.

Altering genes with the aid of light

May 11, 2015 8:18 am | by Joe Miksch, Univ. of Pittsburgh | News | Comments

Scientists have been manipulating genes for a while. The Univ. of Pittsburgh’s Alexander Deiters just found a way to control the process with higher precision. By using light. Since 2013, scientists have used a gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. The method employs a bacterially derived protein (Cas9) and a synthetic guide RNA to induce a double-strand break at a specific location in the genome.

Combination treatment strategy to “checkmate” giloblastoma

May 11, 2015 8:09 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Therapies that specifically target mutations in a person’s cancer have been much-heralded in recent years, yet cancer cells often find a way around them. To address this, researchers identified a promising combinatorial approach to treating glioblastomas, the most common form of primary brain cancer.

Genes influence brain reaction to emotional information

May 8, 2015 11:31 am | by Jessica Werb, UBC Public Affairs | News | Comments

Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to new research by a UBC neuroscientist. The study, recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.

PTSD linked to accelerated aging

May 8, 2015 10:21 am | by Scott LaFee, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

In recent years, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning from conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. PTSD is associated with number of psychological maladies, among them chronic depression, anger, insomnia, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Sunny news for medicine

May 8, 2015 8:57 am | by Univ. of Western Australia | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered an extraordinary protein-cutting enzyme that has also evolved to glue proteins together, a finding that may be valuable in the production of therapeutic drugs. They found the unusual enzyme in an ordinary plant, the sunflower. The researchers have unraveled the manufacturing route sunflowers use to make a super-stable protein ring.

Researchers develop custom artificial membranes

May 8, 2015 8:06 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Decorating the outside of cells like tiny antenna, a diverse community of sugar molecules acts like a telecommunications system, sending and receiving information, recognizing and responding to foreign molecules and neighboring cells. This sugar part of biomembranes is as crucial to health as DNA, but not much is known about it.

Sounding out scaffolds for eardrum replacement

May 7, 2015 10:18 am | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has created tiny, complex scaffolds that mimic the intricate network of collagen fibers that form the human eardrum. It is hoped the scaffolds can be used to replace eardrums when they become severely damaged, reducing the need for patients to have their own tissue used in reconstruction surgery.

Molecular homing beacon redirects human antibodies

May 7, 2015 8:28 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | Videos | Comments

With the threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens growing, new ideas to treat infections are sorely needed. Researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report preliminary success testing an entirely novel approach: tagging bacteria with a molecular “homing beacon” that attracts pre-existing antibodies to attack the pathogens.

A better way to build DNA scaffolds

May 6, 2015 12:47 pm | by Chris Chipello, McGill Univ. | Videos | Comments

Imagine taking strands of DNA and using it to build tiny structures that can deliver drugs to targets within the body or take electronic miniaturization to a whole new level. While it may still sound like science fiction to most of us, researchers have been piecing together and experimenting with DNA structures for decades.

Naked mole-rats’ anti-cancer gene

May 6, 2015 8:37 am | by Will Hoyles, Public Relations Manager, Queen Mary Univ. of London | News | Comments

Naked mole-rats are unusual in many ways as a result of adaptations to living underground, with extreme longevity and a lack of the normal signs of ageing. Their resistance to cancer has been linked to the production of a substance called high molecular mass hyaluronan (HMM-HA), and mutations in the HAS2 gene that produces it.

Observed: The moment your mind changes

May 6, 2015 7:48 am | by Janet Rae-Dupree and Tom Abate, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. The findings result from experiments led by electrical engineering Prof. Krishna Shenoy, whose Stanford Univ. lab focuses on movement control and neural prostheses controlled by the user's brain.

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