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A new “hope” for preservation of tissue samples for analysis

April 8, 2014 12:12 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered that the so-called HOPE method allows tissue samples to be treated such that they do not only meet the requirements of clinical histology, but can still be characterized later on by modern methods of proteomics, a technique that analyzes all proteins at once. This differs from the traditional formalin-based approach that cross-links protein molecules.

New model combines multiple genomic data

April 8, 2014 10:53 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Data about DNA differences, gene expression or methylation can each tell epidemiologists something about the link between genomics and disease. A new statistical model that can integrate all those sources provides a markedly improved analysis, according to two new papers.

Researchers develop new tool to check cells’ “batteries”

April 8, 2014 9:23 am | by Josh Barney, Univ. of Virginia Health System | News | Comments

Under the microscope, they glow like streetlights, forming tidy rows that follow the striations of muscle tissue. They are mitochondria—the powerhouses of cells—and researchers at the Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine have created a method to illuminate and understand them in living creatures like never before.

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Synthetic gene circuits pump up cell signals

April 8, 2014 7:56 am | News | Comments

Synthetic genetic circuitry created by researchers at Rice Univ. is helping them see, for the first time, how to regulate cell mechanisms that degrade the misfolded proteins implicated in Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other diseases. The Rice team has designed a sophisticated circuit that signals increases in the degradation of proteins by the cell’s ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS).

Experts decode germs' DNA to fight food poisoning

April 6, 2014 8:21 am | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Chances are you've heard of mapping genes to diagnose rare diseases, predict your risk of cancer and tell your ancestry. But to uncover food poisonings? The nation's disease detectives are beginning a program to try to outsmart outbreaks by routinely decoding the DNA of potentially deadly bacteria and viruses.

Lab-grown muscle heals itself after animal implantation

April 2, 2014 12:07 pm | News | Comments

Biomedical engineers have grown living skeletal muscle that looks a lot like the real thing. It contracts powerfully and rapidly, integrates into mice quickly, and for the first time, demonstrates the ability to heal itself both inside the laboratory and inside an animal.

Stem cell controversy sets back Japanese science

April 2, 2014 3:21 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The finding that a lead researcher falsified data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper is a setback for Japan's efforts to promote its advanced research, but also a symptom of the pressure for breakthroughs in the field, experts say. The government-funded Riken Center for Development...

Scientists solve the riddle of zebras’ stripes

April 1, 2014 4:49 pm | News | Comments

Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. A research team in California has examined this riddle systematically and have found that biting flies, including horseflies and tsetse flies, are the evolutionary driver for zebra stripes.

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Team finds a better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

April 1, 2014 3:39 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have reported they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The new method involves adding critical signaling molecules to precursor cells a few days earlier than previous methods specified. This increases the proportion of healthy motor neurons derived from stem cells (from 30 to 70%) and cuts in half the time required to do so.

Phage “cocktail” wipes out 99% of E. coli in meat, spinach

April 1, 2014 3:24 pm | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Bacteriophages are viruses that target and kill bacteria. Recent research at Purdue Univ. shows that treating food products with select bacteriophages could significantly reduce concentrations of E. coli. The study demonstrated that an injection of bacteriophages nearly eradicated a toxin-producing strain of E. coli in contaminated spinach and ground beef, in some cases decreasing E. coli concentrations by about 99%.

Ancient whodunit may be solved: The microbes did it!

April 1, 2014 8:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT | News | Comments

Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90% of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out in what was the largest of this planet’s five known mass extinctions. But pinpointing the culprit has been difficult, and controversial. Now, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers may have found enough evidence to convict the guilty parties, but you’ll need a microscope to see the killers.

New micro-environment could be major advance for stem cell growth strategies

April 1, 2014 8:18 am | News | Comments

Stem cells have the potential to repair human tissue and maintain organ function in chronic disease, but a major problem has been how to mass-produce such a complex living material. Scientists in the U.K. have now developed a new substance which could simplify the manufacture of therapeutic cells by allowing both self-renewal of cells and evolution into cardiomyocyte cells.

Vibration may help heal chronic wounds, researchers say

March 31, 2014 3:33 pm | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | News | Comments

Wounds may heal more quickly if exposed to low-intensity vibration, report researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago. The finding, in mice, may hold promise for the 18 million Americans who have type 2 diabetes, and especially the quarter of them who will eventually suffer from foot ulcers. Their wounds tend to heal slowly and can become chronic or worsen rapidly.

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Effectiveness prompts Novartis to end drug study

March 31, 2014 10:23 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Novartis said it's cutting off late-stage research into a potential chronic heart failure treatment because the drug has proven so effective, sending shares to an all-time high when markets opened Monday. Patients taking its twice-daily pill labeled LCZ696 lived longer without being hospitalized for heart failure than those who received a standard of care, Novartis said.

Surgery gives long-term help for obese diabetics

March 31, 2014 10:23 am | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

New research is boosting hopes that weight-loss surgery can put some patients' diabetes into remission for years and perhaps in some cases, for good. Doctors on Monday gave longer results from a landmark study showing that stomach-reducing operations are better than medications for treating "diabesity," the deadly duo of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Erasing a genetic mutation

March 31, 2014 9:15 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Using a new gene-editing system based on bacterial proteins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have cured mice of a rare liver disorder caused by a single genetic mutation. The findings offer the first evidence that this gene-editing technique, known as CRISPR, can reverse disease symptoms in living animals.

The circadian clock: An orchestra with many conductors

March 31, 2014 7:55 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

New findings challenge the prevailing wisdom about how our body clocks are organized, and suggest that interactions among neurons that govern circadian rhythms are more complex than originally thought. A Univ. of Michigan team looked at the circadian clock neuron network in fruit flies, which is functionally similar to that of mammals, but at only 150 clock neurons is much simpler.

Scientists develop largest developmental proteomic data set for any animal

March 28, 2014 8:49 am | by Gene Stowe and Marissa Gebhard, Univ. of Notre Dame | News | Comments

Now that the human genome is sequenced, researchers are focusing on the study of the proteome, which is the protein content of an organism, tissue or cell. Bioanalytical chemists at Univ. of Notre Dame have successfully tracked the changing patterns of protein expression during early development of African clawed frog embryos, producing the largest data set on developmental proteomics for any organism.

Researcher invents “mini heart” to help return venous blood

March 27, 2014 2:20 pm | News | Comments

A new organ has been developed at George Washington Univ. to help return blood flow from veins lacking functional valves. A rhythmically contracting cuff made of cardiac muscle cells surrounds the vein acting as a 'mini heart' to aid blood flow through venous segments. The cuff can be made of a patient’s own adult stem cells, eliminating the chance of implant rejection.

Cancer researchers find key protein link

March 27, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

A new understanding of proteins at the nexus of a cell’s decision to survive or die has implications for researchers who study cancer and age-related diseases, according to biophysicists at the Rice Univ.-based Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. Experiments and computer analysis of two key proteins revealed a previously unknown binding interface that could be addressed by medication.

Engineered bacteria produce biofuel alternative for high-energy rocket fuel

March 27, 2014 8:17 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications. With improvements in process efficiency, the biofuel could supplement limited supplies of petroleum-based JP-10, and might also facilitate development of a new generation of more powerful engines.

Autism may be tied to flawed prenatal brain growth

March 26, 2014 5:21 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A small study that examined brains from children who died found abnormal patterns of cell growth in autistic children. The research bolsters evidence that something before birth might cause autism, at least in some cases. Clusters of disorganized brain cells were discovered in tissue samples from brain regions important for regulating social functioning, emotions and communication, which can all be troublesome for children with autism.

Researchers engineer resistance to ionic liquids in biofuel microbes

March 26, 2014 2:24 pm | News | Comments

Joint BioEnergy Institute scientists have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels. The ionic liquid resistance is based on a pair of genes discovered in a bacterium native to a tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico.

Last drinks: Brain’s mechanism knows when to stop

March 26, 2014 1:05 pm | News | Comments

A new brain imaging study in Australia found a “stop mechanism” that determined brain signals telling the individual to stop drinking water when no longer thirsty. The study, which used magnetic resonance imaging, also gauged the brain effects of drinking more water than required.

New method automatically tracks biological particles in live cell microscopy images

March 25, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

In order to track the movements of biological particles in a cell, scientists at Heidelberg Univ. and the German Cancer Research Center have developed a powerful analysis method for live cell microscopy images. This so-called probabilistic particle tracking method is automatic, computer-based and can be used for time-resolved 2-D and 3-D microscopy image data.

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