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How tumors escape

March 11, 2014 7:43 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

About 90% of cancer deaths are caused by tumors that have spread from their original locations. This process, known as metastasis, requires cancer cells to break loose from their neighbors and from the supportive scaffold that gives tissues their structure. Cancer biologists have now discovered that certain proteins in this structure, known as the extracellular matrix, help cancer cells make their escape.

Study: 2% of Americans have new hips, knees

March 11, 2014 1:19 am | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

It's not just grandma with a new hip and your uncle with a new knee. More than two of every 100 Americans now have an artificial joint, doctors are reporting. Among those over 50, it's even more common: 5% have replaced a knee and more than 2%, a hip.

Doctors often uncertain in ordering, interpreting lab tests

March 10, 2014 12:43 pm | by Sharon Parmet, Univ. of Illinois Chicago | News | Comments

Over the past 20 years, the number of laboratory tests available to primary care physicians has doubled, to more than 3,500 tests, and physicians are challenged by the quantity of tests available. A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests they often face uncertainty in ordering and interpreting clinical laboratory tests, and would welcome better electronic clinical decision support tools.

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Trends in Genomics Technology

March 10, 2014 8:54 am | by Barrett Bready and John Thompson, Nabsys | Articles | Comments

Ever since the study of individual genes and RNAs was first known to be important, there has been a drive to get as detailed and complete genomic information as possible. Early technologies like the hybridization-based Southern and Northern blotting methods were tremendous advances, but allowed only a handful of genomic targets to be studied at a time.

Synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis

March 10, 2014 7:56 am | Videos | Comments

In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice Univ. bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.

Research on 3-D scaffolds sets new bar in lung regeneration

March 9, 2014 11:44 pm | by Jennifer Nachbur, Univ. of Vermont | News | Comments

In end-stage lung disease, transplantation is sometimes the only viable therapeutic option, but organ availability is limited and rejection presents an additional challenge. New methods and techniques in the field of tissue regeneration hold promise for this population, which includes an estimated 12.7 million people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

Chemists discover new class of antibiotics

March 9, 2014 11:43 pm | News | Comments

A team of Univ. of Notre Dame researchers have discovered a new class of antibiotics to fight bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other drug-resistant bacteria. Called oxadiazoles, the new class was discovered through in silico (by computer) screening and has shown promise in the treatment of MRSA in mouse models of infection.  

Liver metabolism study could help patients awaiting transplants

March 7, 2014 1:39 pm | News | Comments

In a new study that could help doctors extend the lives of patients awaiting liver transplants, a Rice Univ.-led team of researchers examined the metabolic breakdown that takes place in liver cells during late-stage cirrhosis and found clues that suggest new treatments to delay liver failure.

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Smartphones become “eye-phones” with new low-cost opthalmologic devices

March 7, 2014 1:22 pm | by Rosanne Spector, Stanford Univ. School of Medicine | News | Comments

Researchers at the Stanford Univ. School of Medicine have developed two inexpensive adapters that enable a smartphone to capture high-quality images of the front and back of the eye. The adapters make it easy for anyone with minimal training to take a picture of the eye and share it securely with other health practitioners or store it in the patient’s electronic record.

A new way to profile immune cells in blood

March 7, 2014 8:42 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

When a person becomes sick or is exposed to an unwelcome substance, the body mobilizes specific proportions of different immune cells in the blood. Methods of discovering and detecting those profiles are therefore useful both clinically and in research. In a new Genome Biology paper, a team of scientists describes a new and uniquely advantageous way to detect them.

Pigment or bacteria? Researchers re-examine the idea of “color” in fossil feathers

March 7, 2014 8:33 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Paleontologists studying fossilized feathers have proposed that the shapes of certain microscopic structures inside the feathers can tell us the color of ancient birds. But new research from North Carolina State Univ. demonstrates that it is not yet possible to tell if these structures, thought to be melanosomes, are what they seem, or if they are merely the remnants of ancient bacteria.

Storing and Tracking Samples: Preserving Contents and Managing Sample Data

March 6, 2014 11:42 am | by Kiara Biagioni, Storage Tracking Product Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, Mass. | Thermo Fisher Scientific | Articles | Comments

Samples are precious resources and integral to the research process. The information derived from them is dependent on their quality, integrity and consistency. And, many samples represent a scientist’s investment in and trust of the biomedical research process. Yet, it is not unusual for samples to go missing, to find that their labels have fallen off or that they have become unusable.

Computational tool offers new insight into key biological processes

March 6, 2014 10:45 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a computational tool designed to guide future research on biochemical pathways by identifying which components in a biological system are related to specific biochemical processes, including those processes responsible for gene expression, cell signaling, stress response and metabolism.

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Microbial detection array detects plague in ancient human remains

March 6, 2014 10:40 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists who study past pandemics, such as the 14th-century Black Death that devastated much of Europe, might soon be turning to an innovative biological detection technology for some extra help. The apparent first use of this technology, known as a microarray, for studying pathogens from ancient DNA, was reported by a team of scientists in Scientific Reports.

Shrinking gel steers tooth tissue formation

March 6, 2014 9:02 am | by Dan Ferber, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A bit of pressure from a new shrinking, sponge-like gel is all it takes to turn transplanted unspecialized cells into cells that lay down minerals and begin to form teeth. The bioinspired gel material could one day help repair or replace damaged organs, such as teeth and bone, and possibly other organs as well.

Pumping iron: A hydrogel actuator with mussel tone

March 6, 2014 8:48 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

Protein from a small, tasty mollusk inspired Michigan Technological Univ.’s Bruce P. Lee to invent a new type of hydrogel actuator. Hydrogels are soft networks of polymers with high water content, like jello. Because of their soft, gentle texture, they have the potential to interact safely with living tissues and have applications in a number of medical areas, including tissue engineering.

Brain circuits multitask to detect, discriminate the outside world

March 6, 2014 8:40 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Imagine driving on a dark road. In the distance you see a single light. As the light approaches it splits into two headlights. That’s a car, not a motorcycle, your brain tells you. A new study found that neural circuits in the brain rapidly multitask between detecting and discriminating sensory input, such as headlights in the distance.

Cell’s skeletons get a closer look

March 6, 2014 8:29 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have developed a theoretical approach to analyze the process by which protein building blocks form the biopolymer skeletons of living cells. The cytoskeleton, made of fibers and microtubules, gives a cell its shape and provides the “roads” along which proteins and other cargoes travel.

Gene therapy seems safe, may help control HIV

March 5, 2014 5:21 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists have modified genes in the blood cells of HIV patients to help them resist the AIDS virus, and say the treatment seems safe and promising. The results give hope that this approach might one day free at least some people from needing medicines to keep HIV under control, a form of cure.

Gene identified for butterfly wing marking mimicry

March 5, 2014 5:03 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

To fool predators, some butterflies create wing color patterns that make them resemble their unpalatable cousins. Only recently have scientists been unraveling how they do that, and now researchers have identified the gene that does the trick for an Asian swallowtail.

Doctors hope for cure in a 2nd baby born with HIV

March 5, 2014 1:21 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A second baby born with the AIDS virus may have had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment—in this instance, four hours after birth. Doctors revealed the case Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Boston. The girl was born in suburban Los Angeles last April, a month after researchers announced the first case from Mississippi.

Bright pulses of light could make space veggies more nutritious

March 5, 2014 9:48 am | News | Comments

One of the concerns for astronauts during future extended spaceflights will be the onslaught of eye-damaging radiation, and plants that contain carotenoids would help mitigate that harm. According to a new study by researchers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder, exposing leafy vegetables grown during spaceflight to a few bright pulses of light daily could increase the amount of eye-protecting nutrients produced by the plants.

New evidence confirms link between IQ and brain cortex

March 4, 2014 4:17 pm | News | Comments

According to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries, rate of change in the thickness of the brain’s cortex is an important factor associated with a person’s change in IQ. The study has potentially wide-ranging implications for the pedagogical world and for judicial cases in which the defendant’s IQ score could play a role in determining the severity of the sentence.

Giant virus revived after more than 30,000 years

March 4, 2014 3:15 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have revived a giant virus more than 30,000 years old, recovered from the permafrost of northeast Siberia. It is a new kind of giant virus, joining a group that was first discovered 10 years ago. But the virus poses no threat to people, only amoebas.

Shaky hand, stable spoon: Study shows device helps essential tremor patients

March 3, 2014 12:05 pm | News | Comments

For people whose hands shake uncontrollably due to a medical condition, just eating can be a frustrating and embarrassing ordeal, enough to keep them from sharing a meal with others. But a small new study conducted at the Univ. of Michigan Health System suggests that a new handheld electronic device can help such patients overcome the hand shakes caused by essential tremor, the most common movement disorder.

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