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Technology could screen for emerging viral diseases

July 15, 2014 11:58 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A microbe detection array technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists could provide a new rapid method for public health authorities to conduct surveillance for emerging viral diseases. This possible use of the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) was studied by an international team of researchers from eight nations in a paper published in the PLOS ONE.

Study: Friends share similarities in their DNA

July 15, 2014 9:20 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

You may be more similar to your friends than you think. A new study suggests that the DNA code tends to be more alike between friends than between strangers, and the similarity goes beyond the effect of shared ethnicity. The difference is slight but detectable and consistent, and the finding could be important for theories about human evolution.

Capturing cancer: A powerful, new technique for early diagnosis

July 15, 2014 8:28 am | by Richard Harth, Arizona State Univ. Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

Despite impressive medical strides, cancer remains a leading killer and overwhelming burden to healthcare systems, causing well over a half million fatalities per year with a projected cost of $174 billion by 2020, according to the National Cancer Institute. Reducing the human and economic toll will require diagnosis and intervention at early stages of illness, when the best prognosis for a cure exists.

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Study: U.S. Alzheimer's rate seems to be dropping

July 15, 2014 3:17 am | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is falling in the U.S. and some other rich countries—good news about an epidemic that is still growing simply because more people are living to an old age, new studies show. An American over age 60 today has a 44% lower chance of developing dementia than a similar-aged person did roughly 30 years ago, the longest study of these trends in the U.S. concluded.

Flower development in 3-D: Timing is the key

July 14, 2014 11:48 am | News | Comments

Developmental processes in all living organisms are controlled by genes. At the same time there is a continuous metabolism taking place. Recent research in Austria has analyzed this interaction in flowering plants. For the first time, changes in metabolism were linked to 3-D morphometric data using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) for the first time.

3-D printed anatomy to mark a new era for medical training

July 14, 2014 11:32 am | News | Comments

The creators of a unique kit containing 3-D printed anatomical body parts say it will revolutionize medical education and training, especially in countries where cadaver use is problematic. The “3D Printed Anatomy Series”, developed by experts in Australia, is thought to be the first commercially available resource of its kind. The kit contains no human tissue, yet it provides all the major parts of the body required to teach anatomy.

Deep within spinach leaves, vibrations enhance efficiency of photosynthesis

July 14, 2014 7:46 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Biophysics researchers have used short pulses of light to peer into the mechanics of photosynthesis and illuminate the role that molecule vibrations play in the energy conversion process that powers life on our planet. The findings could potentially help engineers make more efficient solar cells and energy storage systems.

Anthrax scare reveals more CDC lab safety problems

July 11, 2014 5:18 pm | by Mike Stobbe, Associated Press Medical Writer | News | Comments

Citing an anthrax scare and other safety problems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said it shut down two research labs and stopped shipping highly dangerous germs to other labs. An incident at one of the closed Atlanta laboratories could have accidentally exposed workers in three labs to anthrax last month. A second, previously undisclosed problem earlier this year involved deadly bird flu.

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Bacteria: A day in the life

July 11, 2014 7:50 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

We are all creatures of habit, and a new study finds ocean bacteria are no exception. In a paper published in Science, researchers report that microbes in the open ocean follow predictable patterns of biological activity, such as eating, breathing and growing. Certain species are early risers, exhibiting genetic signs of respiration, metabolism and protein synthesis in the morning hours, while others rouse to action later in the day.

New technologies fuel patient participation, data collection in research

July 10, 2014 9:06 am | by Duke Medicine News and Communications | News | Comments

The changing dynamic of health studies driven by “big data” research projects will empower patients to become active participants who provide real-time information such as symptoms, side effects and clinical outcomes, according to researchers at Duke Medicine. The analysislays out a new paradigm for health research, particularly comparative effectiveness studies that are designed to assess which therapies work best in clinical practice.

Study cracks how the brain processes emotions

July 10, 2014 7:35 am | by Melissa Osgood, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Although feelings are personal and subjective, the human brain turns them into a standard code that objectively represents emotions across different senses, situations and even people. A Cornell Univ. team's findings provide insight into how the brain represents our innermost feelings and upend the long-held view that emotion is represented in the brain simply by activation in specialized regions for positive or negative feelings.

Study: Psych drug ER trips approach 90,000 a year

July 9, 2014 6:23 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Bad reactions to psychiatric drugs result in nearly 90,000 emergency room visits each year by U.S. adults, with anti-anxiety medicines and sedatives among the most common culprits, a study suggests. A drug used in some popular sleeping pills was among the most commonly involved sedatives, especially in adults aged 65 and older.

Even geckos can lose their grip

July 9, 2014 2:17 pm | News | Comments

Geckos and spiders seem to be able to sit still forever upside down. But sooner or later the grip is lost, no matter how little force is acting on it. Engineers, using scanning electron microscopy, have recently demonstrated why this is so by showing how heat, and the subsequent movement of molecules at the nanoscale, eventually force loss of adhesion.

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Tiny DNA pyramids enter bacteria easily

July 9, 2014 11:49 am | News | Comments

Bacterial infections usually announce themselves with pain and fever but often can be defeated with antibiotics—and then there are those that are sneaky and hard to beat. Now, scientists have built a new weapon against such pathogens in the form of tiny DNA pyramids. Published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, their study found the nanopyramids can flag bacteria and kill more of them than medicine alone.

When faced with some sugars, bacteria can be picky eaters

July 9, 2014 8:31 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of Minnesota have found, for the first time, that genetically identical strains of bacteria can respond very differently to the presence of sugars and other organic molecules in the environment, with some individual bacteria devouring the sugars and others ignoring it.

Unprecedented detail of intact neuronal receptor offers blueprint for drug developers

July 9, 2014 8:23 am | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists succeeded in obtaining an unprecedented view of a type of brain cell receptor that is implicated in a range of neurological illnesses. The team of biologists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory used the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory to get an atomic-level picture of the intact NMDA (N-methyl, D-aspartate) receptor should serve as template and guide for the design of therapeutic compounds.

Scientists uncover new compounds that could affect circadian rhythm

July 9, 2014 7:45 am | News | Comments

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a surprising new role for a pair of compounds—which have the potential to alter circadian rhythm, the complex physiological process that responds to a cycle of light and dark and is present in most living things. At least one of these compounds could be developed as a chemical probe to uncover new therapeutic approaches to a range of disorders, including diabetes and obesity.

Food allergies: A new, simple method to track down allergens

July 8, 2014 1:20 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a fast and accurate method for determining exactly which proteins cause allergies to milk. The novel approach, which is based on a specialized form of laser desorption-ionization mass spectrometry, is highly personalized and can extend to other foods as well.

Scientists report contradictory findings on the effect of full moon on sleep

July 8, 2014 10:24 am | by Krister Svahn, Univ. of Gothenberg | News | Comments

Studies through the years have attempted to prove or disprove the hypothesis that lunar phases affect human sleep. But results have been hard to repeat. A Swiss research study conducted last year showed that the full moon does affect sleep. The findings demonstrated that people average 20 minutes less sleep, take five minutes longer to fall asleep and experience 30 minutes more of REM sleep, during which most dreaming is believed to occur.

Artificial cilia: Scientists develop nanostructured transportation system

July 7, 2014 3:40 pm | News | Comments

For billions of years, bacteria have moved themselves using cilia. Now, researchers have constructed molecules that imitate these tiny, hair-like structures. The innovation was possible by nanofabricating artificial cilia that would respond in just one direction to provide a net displacement of motion.

Dodging dots helps explain brain circuitry

July 7, 2014 3:07 pm | News | Comments

In a new study, Brown Univ. neuroscientists looked cell-by-cell at the brain circuitry that tadpoles, and possibly other animals, use to avoid collisions. The study produced a model of how individual inhibitory and excitatory neurons can work together to control a simple behavior.

How knots can swap positions on a DNA strand

July 7, 2014 9:48 am | News | Comments

Recent computer simulations show how, for the first time, two knots on a DNA strand can interchange their positions, with one knot growing in size and the other diffusing along the contour of the first. This swapping of positions on a DNA strand may also happen in living organisms, and the mechanism may play an important role in future technologies such as nanopore sequencing.

New discovery in living cell signaling

July 7, 2014 9:33 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

An international collaboration of researchers have unlocked the secret behind the activation of the Ras family of proteins, one of the most important components of cellular signaling networks in biology and major drivers of cancers that are among the most difficult to treat. To make the discovery, they performed single molecule studies of Ras activation in a membrane environment.

DNA origami nano-tool provides important clue to cancer

July 7, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Sweden have headed a study that provides new knowledge about the EphA2 receptor, which is significant in several forms of cancer. The researchers employed the method of DNA origami, in which a DNA molecule is shaped into a nanostructure, and used these structures to test theories about cell signalling.

“Nanojuice” could improve how doctors examine the gut

July 7, 2014 8:05 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

Located deep in the human gut, the small intestine is not easy to examine: X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound images each suffer limitations. Univ. at Buffalo researchers are developing a new imaging technique involving nanoparticles suspended in liquid to form “nanojuice” that patients would drink. Upon reaching the small intestine, doctors would strike the nanoparticles with laser light, providing a non-invasive, real-time view of the organ.

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