Merck said Monday that its new human papillomavirus vaccine was about 97% effective in blocking precancerous lesions caused by strains of the virus that are not stopped by Merck's vaccine Gardasil. Merck & Co. said it expects to file for marketing approval of the new vaccine, which is designated V503, before the end of 2013.
A team of researchers has discovered a bacterium in hot springs which needs rare earth materials such as lanthanum, cerium or neodymium to grow. The bacteria need the valuable metals to produce energy as co-factor for the enzyme methanol dehydrogenase, with which the microbes produce their energy. The use of rare earths is possibly more widespread among bacteria than previously thought.
Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug given to more than half of all cancer patients. The drug kills cells very effectively by damaging nuclear DNA, but if tumors become resistant to cisplatin they often grow back. A new study offers a possible way to overcome that resistance. The researchers found that when cisplatin was delivered to cellular structures called mitochondria, DNA in this organelle was damaged, leading to cancer cell death.
Slapping a 20% tax on soda in Britain could cut the number of obese adults by about 180,000, according to a new study. Though the number works out to a modest drop of 1.3% in obesity, scientists say that reduction would still be worthwhile in the U.K., which has a population of about 63 million and is the fattest country in Western Europe. About one in four Britons is obese.
Doctors may one day be able to control a patient's HIV infection in a new way: injecting swarms of germ-fighting antibodies, two new studies suggest. In monkeys, that strategy sharply reduced blood levels of a cousin of HIV. The results also gave tantalizing hints that someday the tactic might help destroy the AIDS virus in its hiding places in the body, something current drugs cannot do.
One of the world’s largest dinosaurs has been digitally reconstructed by experts from The Univ. of Manchester allowing it to take its first steps in over 94 million years. The Manchester team, working with scientists in Argentina, were able to laser scan a 40-m-long skeleton of the vast Cretaceous Argentinosaurus dinosaur. Then using an advanced computer modeling technique they recreated its walking and running movements.
Taking inspiration from the human immune system, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a new material that can be programmed to identify an endless variety of molecules. The new material resembles tiny sheets of Velcro, each just one-hundred nanometers across. But instead of securing your sneakers, this molecular Velcro mimics the way natural antibodies recognize viruses and toxins.
Researchers using transmission electron microscopy have examined the smallest building block of coral that can be identified: sphemlites. These studies have revealed three distinct regions whose formation could be directly correlated to the time of day. These findings could help scientists and environmentalists working to protect and conserve coral from the threats of acidification and rising water temperatures.
A new study from Yale School of Medicine uncovers clues as to how a key part of the immune system is regulated to avoid tissue injury to human organs after stroke or transplant. The study focuses on a type of white blood cell called a neutrophil, and how regulation of the granules inside can protect organs such as kidneys from injury.
Digs over the years at the La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles have unearthed bones of mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats and dire wolves that became trapped in ponds of sticky asphalt. But it's the smaller discoveries, like plants, insects and rodents, that in recent years are shaping scientists' views of life in the region 11,000 to 50,000 years ago.
Bee stings can be painful, and for people who are allergic to the bee’s venom, they can be deadly. But a new study from Yale School of Medicine finds that the key toxic component in bee venom—the major allergen—can actually induce immunity and protect against future allergic reactions to the toxin.
Dendrites, the branch-like projections of neurons, were once thought to be passive wiring in the brain. But now researchers at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that these dendrites do more than relay information from one neuron to the next. They actively process information, multiplying the brain's computing power.
The effects of gravity are relevant when building houses or flying airplanes, but biologists have generally accepted that the average cell is too small for gravity to play a role in how it is built or behaves. A finding by Princeton Univ. researchers now shows gravity imposes a size constraint on cells. The results provide a novel reason why most animal cells are small and of similar size.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers found thousands of gene enhancers, regulatory sequences of DNA that act to turn-on or amplify the expression of a specific gene, that are involved in the development of the human face. These enhancers help explain why every human face is as unique as a fingerprint.
Cancer researchers from Rice Univ. have deciphered the operating principles of a genetic switch that cancer cells use to decide when to metastasize and invade other parts of the body. The study found that the on-off switch’s dynamics also allows a third choice that lies somewhere between “on” and “off.” The extra setting both explains previously confusing experimental results and opens the door to new avenues of cancer treatment.
For more a decade scientists have investigated microbial life under the seafloor off the coast of Peru. Traces of past microbial life in sediments reveal how these ecosystems have responded to climate change over hundreds of thousands of years. Little is known about how the “deep biosphere” developed over millennia and how microbial life influences the cycling of carbon in the oceans.
Everyone grows older, but scientists don't really understand why. Now a Univ. of California, Los Angeles study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process.
In a biological quirk that promises to provide researchers with a new approach for studying and potentially treating Fragile X syndrome, scientists at UMass Medical School have shown that knocking out a gene important for messenger RNA translation in neurons restores memory deficits and reduces behavioral symptoms in a mouse model of a prevalent human neurological disease.
Bioengineers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley have shown that physical cues can replace certain chemicals when nudging mature cells back to a pluripotent stage, capable of becoming any cell type in the body. The researchers grew fibroblasts on surfaces with parallel grooves measuring 10 µm wide and 3 µm high.
Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified the key genes required for oil production and accumulation in plant leaves and other vegetative plant tissues. Enhancing expression of these genes resulted in vastly increased oil content in leaves, the most abundant sources of plant biomass—a finding that could have important implications for increasing the energy content of plant-based foods and renewable biofuel feedstocks.
A colorful wheel developed by Rice Univ. bioengineers to visualize protein interactions has won an international competition for novel strategies to study the roots of breast cancer. The winning BioWheel by the Rice laboratory of bioengineer Amina Qutub was chosen, topping 14 academic and industry participants in the HPN-DREAM Breast Cancer Network Inference Challenge.
A British scientist says he may have solved the mystery of the Abominable Snowman, the elusive ape-like creature of the Himalayas. DNA analysis conducted by Oxford Univ. genetics professor Bryan Sykes suggests the creature, also known as the Yeti, is the descendant of an ancient polar bear.
The discovery of a 1.8-million-year-old skull of a human ancestor buried under a medieval Georgian village provides a vivid picture of early evolution and indicates our family tree may have fewer branches than some believe, scientists say. The fossil is the most complete pre-human skull uncovered.
In two parallel projects, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created new genomes inside the bacterium E. coli in ways that could open new possibilities for increasing flexibility, productivity and safety in biotechnology. In the first project, researchers created a novel genome, the first-ever entirely genomically recoded organism. They then greatly expanded genetic changes in the second project.
Around 3% of all plants use an advanced form of photosynthesis, which allows them to capture more carbon dioxide, use less water, and grow more rapidly. This phenomenon had been a mystery, but researchers have used a mathematical analysis to uncover a number of tiny changes in the plants' physiology that allow them to grow more quickly, using a third as much water as other plants and capturing around 13 times more carbon dioxide.