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Researchers edit plant DNA using mechanism evolved in bacteria

June 5, 2015 10:36 am | by James Hataway, Univ. of Georgia | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have used a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR/Cas to modify the genome of a tree species for the first time. Their research, published online in New Phytologist, opens the door to more rapid and reliable gene editing of plants. By mutating specific genes in Populus, the researchers reduced the concentrations of two naturally occurring plant polymers.

A new technique for blueprinting cell membrane proteins

June 5, 2015 8:17 am | by Trinity College Dublin | News | Comments

Biochemists from Trinity College Dublin have devised a new technique that will make the difficult but critical job of blueprinting certain proteins considerably faster, easier and cheaper. The breakthrough will make a big splash in the field of drug discovery and development, where precise protein structure blueprints can help researchers understand how individual proteins work.

How dividing cells end up the same size

June 5, 2015 8:03 am | by Ken Kingery, Duke Univ. | Videos | Comments

There aren't any giants or midgets when it comes to the cells in your body, and now Duke Univ. scientists think they know why. A new study appearing in Nature shows that a cell's initial size determines how much it will grow before it splits into two. This finding goes against recent publications suggesting cells always add the same amount of mass, with some random fluctuations, before beginning division.

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Decaying RNA molecules tell a story

June 5, 2015 7:56 am | by European Molecular Biology Laboratory | News | Comments

Once messenger RNA (mRNA) has done its job—conveying the information to produce the proteins necessary for a cell to function—it is no longer required and is degraded. Scientists have long thought that the decay started after translation was complete and that decaying RNA molecules provided little biological information.

Natural channel proteins move sideways in a thick artificial membrane that condenses around the channel proteins. Courtesy of ACS

How natural channel proteins move in artificial membranes

June 4, 2015 11:05 am | by University of Basel | News | Comments

Natural channel proteins are integrated into artificial membranes to facilitate the transport of ions and molecules. Researchers have now been able to measure the movement of these channel proteins for the first time. They move up to 10 times slower than in their natural environment, namely the cell membrane. The results may prove useful to the ongoing development of new applications such as nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Brain’s reaction to certain words could replace passwords

June 3, 2015 8:26 am | by Binghamton Univ. | News | Comments

You might not need to remember those complicated email and bank account passwords for much longer. According to a new study, the way your brain responds to certain words could be used to replace passwords. In "Brainprint," a newly published study in Neurocomputing, researchers from Binghamton Univ. observed the brain signals of 45 volunteers as they read a list of 75 acronyms, such as FBI and DVD.

Hyperbaric hope for fibromyalgia sufferers

June 3, 2015 8:10 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Women who suffer from fibromyalgia benefit from a treatment regimen in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, according to researchers at Rice Univ. and institutes in Israel. A clinical trial involving women diagnosed with fibromyalgia showed the painful condition improved in every one of the 48 who completed two months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Essential Instruments for Open-Access Environment

June 2, 2015 3:55 pm | by Russell Scammell,PhD, Group Leader, Physical Chemistry, Charles River Laboratories | Articles | Comments

Pharmaceutical companies, like other industries, face frequent and mounting requirements to resolve complex mixtures of active pharmaceutical ingredients into their unique components. Given the demands being placed on medicinal chemistry departments to deliver high-quality new drug candidates, the speed at which separations can be achieved is of utmost importance.

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Genome-editing proteins seek and find with a slide and a hop

June 2, 2015 8:06 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Searching a whole genome for one particular sequence is like trying to fish a specific piece from the box of a billion-piece puzzle. Using advanced imaging techniques, Univ. of Illinois researchers have observed how one set of genome-editing proteins finds its specific targets, which could help them design better gene therapies to treat disease.

Yeast protein network could provide insights into obesity

June 1, 2015 11:20 am | by Ker Than, Caltech | News | Comments

A team of biologists and a mathematician have identified and characterized a network composed of 94 proteins that work together to regulate fat storage in yeast. The findings, detailed in PLOS Computational Biology, suggest that yeast could serve as a valuable test organism for studying human obesity.

Cold improved longevity for some

June 1, 2015 8:13 am | by Laura Williams, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Century-old wisdom holds that cold-blooded creatures live longer in colder environments. And more recent studies have found it's true for mammals as well: Dropping the core body temperatures of mice by less than one degree Fahrenheit can extend their lives by 20%.

Adolescent brain develops differently in bipolar disorder

May 29, 2015 12:43 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

In adolescents with bipolar disorder, key areas of the brain that help regulate emotions develop differently, a new study by Yale Univ. School of Medicine researchers shows. In brain areas that regulate emotions, adolescents with bipolar disorder lose larger-than-anticipated volumes of gray matter, or neurons, and show no increase in white matter connections, which is a hallmark of normal adolescent brain development.

DNA double helix does double duty in assembling nanoparticle arrays

May 29, 2015 8:18 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

In a new twist on the use of DNA in nanoscale construction, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators put synthetic strands of the biological material to work in two ways: They used ropelike configurations of the DNA double helix to form a rigid geometrical framework, and added dangling pieces of single-stranded DNA to glue nanoparticles in place.

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Researchers find “lost” memories

May 29, 2015 7:27 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Memories that have been “lost” as a result of amnesia can be recalled by activating brain cells with light. In a paper published in Science, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology reveal that they were able to reactivate memories that could not otherwise be retrieved, using a technology known as optogenetics.

Diagnosing cancer with help from bacteria

May 28, 2015 11:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of California at San Diego have devised a new way to detect cancer that has spread to the liver, by enlisting help from probiotics, beneficial bacteria similar to those found in yogurt. Many types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic, tend to metastasize to the liver. The earlier doctors can find these tumors, the more likely that they can successfully treat them.

Expanding the code of life with new “letters”

May 28, 2015 7:29 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as “letters,” that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting for the first time that two new nucleotides can do the same thing, raising the possibility that entirely new proteins could be created for medical uses.

Study reveals flaws in gene testing; results often conflict

May 27, 2015 12:21 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The first report from a big public-private project to improve genetic testing reveals it's not as rock solid as many people believe, with flaws that result in some people wrongly advised to worry about a disease risk and others wrongly told they can relax. Researchers say the study shows the need for consumers to be careful about choosing where to have a gene test done and acting on the results.

How Hep C survives immune system attacks

May 27, 2015 9:48 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Warring armies use a variety of tactics as they struggle to gain the upper hand. Among their tricks is to attack with a decoy force that occupies the defenders while an unseen force launches a separate attack that the defenders fail to notice. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the Hepatitis C virus may employ similar tactics to distract the body's natural defenses.

Chip makes testing for antibiotic-resistant bacteria faster, easier

May 27, 2015 8:06 am | by RJ Taylor, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

We live in fear of superbugs: infectious bacteria that don't respond to treatment by antibiotics, and can turn a routine hospital stay into a nightmare. A 2015 Health Canada report estimates that superbugs have already cost Canadians $1 billion, and are a "serious and growing issue." Each year two million people in the U.S. contract antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result.

Researchers find “decoder ring” powers in microRNA

May 26, 2015 12:07 pm | by New York Univ. | News | Comments

MicroRNA can serve as a "decoder ring" for understanding complex biological processes, a team of New York Univ. chemists has found. Their study, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points to a new method for decrypting the biological functions of enzymes and identifying those that drive diseases.

New way to prevent diabetes-associated blindness

May 26, 2015 8:04 am | by Shawna Williams, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Reporting on their study with lab-grown human cells, researchers at The Johns Hopkins Univ. and the Univ. of Maryland say that blocking a second blood vessel growth protein, along with one that is already well-known, could offer a new way to treat and prevent a blinding eye disease caused by diabetes.

DNA mutations get harder to hide

May 26, 2015 7:34 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have developed a method to detect rare DNA mutations with an approach hundreds of times more powerful than current methods. The technique allows the researchers to find a figurative needle in a haystack that’s smaller than any needle.

Study: High altitude may boost babies' risks for SIDS deaths

May 25, 2015 2:04 am | by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Lofty living may make babies vulnerable to sudden infant death syndrome, according to a Colorado study that found higher risks above 8,000 ft (2,400 m). While the research shows that the SIDS rate in Colorado's tall mountains is very low, it's still two times greater than in the Denver area and other regions where the altitude is less than 6,000 ft (1,800 m). The results echo earlier research done in Austria's Alps.

“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 bacteria can use their social behavior of outer membrane exchange (OME) to repair damaged cells and improve the fitness of the bacteria population as a whole.

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