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Sunny news for medicine

May 8, 2015 8:57 am | by Univ. of Western Australia | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered an extraordinary protein-cutting enzyme that has also evolved to glue proteins together, a finding that may be valuable in the production of therapeutic drugs. They found the unusual enzyme in an ordinary plant, the sunflower. The researchers have unraveled the manufacturing route sunflowers use to make a super-stable protein ring.

Researchers develop custom artificial membranes

May 8, 2015 8:06 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Decorating the outside of cells like tiny antenna, a diverse community of sugar molecules acts like a telecommunications system, sending and receiving information, recognizing and responding to foreign molecules and neighboring cells. This sugar part of biomembranes is as crucial to health as DNA, but not much is known about it.

Sounding out scaffolds for eardrum replacement

May 7, 2015 10:18 am | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has created tiny, complex scaffolds that mimic the intricate network of collagen fibers that form the human eardrum. It is hoped the scaffolds can be used to replace eardrums when they become severely damaged, reducing the need for patients to have their own tissue used in reconstruction surgery.

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Molecular homing beacon redirects human antibodies

May 7, 2015 8:28 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | Videos | Comments

With the threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens growing, new ideas to treat infections are sorely needed. Researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report preliminary success testing an entirely novel approach: tagging bacteria with a molecular “homing beacon” that attracts pre-existing antibodies to attack the pathogens.

A better way to build DNA scaffolds

May 6, 2015 12:47 pm | by Chris Chipello, McGill Univ. | Videos | Comments

Imagine taking strands of DNA and using it to build tiny structures that can deliver drugs to targets within the body or take electronic miniaturization to a whole new level. While it may still sound like science fiction to most of us, researchers have been piecing together and experimenting with DNA structures for decades.

Naked mole-rats’ anti-cancer gene

May 6, 2015 8:37 am | by Will Hoyles, Public Relations Manager, Queen Mary Univ. of London | News | Comments

Naked mole-rats are unusual in many ways as a result of adaptations to living underground, with extreme longevity and a lack of the normal signs of ageing. Their resistance to cancer has been linked to the production of a substance called high molecular mass hyaluronan (HMM-HA), and mutations in the HAS2 gene that produces it.

Observed: The moment your mind changes

May 6, 2015 7:48 am | by Janet Rae-Dupree and Tom Abate, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. The findings result from experiments led by electrical engineering Prof. Krishna Shenoy, whose Stanford Univ. lab focuses on movement control and neural prostheses controlled by the user's brain.

Proteomics identifies DNA repair toolbox

May 4, 2015 10:49 am | by Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry | News | Comments

During each cell division, more than 3.3 billion base pairs of genomic DNA have to be duplicated and segregated accurately to daughter cells. But what happens when the DNA template is damaged in such a way that the replication machinery gets stuck? To answer this question, a team of scientists have analyzed how the protein composition of the DNA replication machinery changes upon encountering damaged DNA.

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New research into health benefits of coffee

May 1, 2015 10:29 am | by Monash Univ. | News | Comments

New research has brought us closer to being able to understand the health benefits of coffee. Monash Univ. researchers, in collaboration with Italian coffee roasting company Illycaffè, have conducted the most comprehensive study to date on how free radicals and antioxidants behave during every stage of the coffee brewing process, from intact bean to coffee brew.

Inflammatory immune cells can flip the genetic script

April 30, 2015 8:47 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A type of immune cell that promotes inflammation during the immune response, TH17, can convert into another type of cell that reduces inflammation, Yale Univ. researchers have found. The finding, published in Nature, points to a possible therapeutic strategy for inflammation-mediated diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Illuminating the dark zone

April 30, 2015 8:01 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

The human body is a cross between a factory and a construction zone; at least on the cellular level. Certain proteins act as project managers, which direct a wide variety of processes and determine the fate of the cell as a whole. One group of proteins called the WD-repeat (WDR) family helps a cell choose which of the thousands of possible gene products it should manufacture.

Genetic testing moves into world of employee health

April 29, 2015 2:07 pm | by Tom Murphy, AP Business Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Your employer may one day help determine if your genes are why your jeans have become too snug. Big companies are considering blending genetic testing with coaching on nutrition and exercise to help workers lose weight and improve their health before serious conditions like diabetes or heart disease develop.

Mathematicians from the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester developed a new set of equations to study how flowing fluid affected the movement of bacteria and how the swimming behavior of the bacteria themselves affected their travel.

Mathematics reveals how fluid flow affects bacteria

April 28, 2015 12:02 pm | by University of Liverpool | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have used mathematical equations to shed new light on how flowing fluid hinders the movement of bacteria in their search for food.  Mathematicians developed a new set of equations to study how flowing fluid affected the movement of bacteria and how the swimming behavior of the bacteria themselves affected their travel.

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Factors Impact Fate of Sinking Carbon

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | News | Comments

The researchers found that sinking particles of stressed and dying phytoplankton release chemicals that have a jolting, steroid-like effect on marine bacteria feeding on the particles. The chemicals juice up the bacteria’s metabolism causing them to more rapidly convert organic carbon in the particles back into CO2 before they can sink to the deep ocean.

Researchers have captured the first 3-D video of a living algal embryo turning itself inside out, from a sphere to a mushroom shape and back again. The results could help unravel the mechanical processes at work during a similar process in animals, which

Upside down and inside out

April 27, 2015 12:53 pm | by University of Cambridge | News | Comments

Researchers have captured the first 3-D video of a living algal embryo turning itself inside out, from a sphere to a mushroom shape and back again. The results could help unravel the mechanical processes at work during a similar process in animals, which has been called the “most important time in your life.”

3-D Method Aids Study of Proteins

April 27, 2015 11:08 am | by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona | News | Comments

Researchers have developed AGGRESCAN3D, a new computational method which allows studying the structure of folded globular proteins and their propensity for forming toxic protein aggregates.

Zeroing in on a silent killer

April 24, 2015 8:16 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

One in three Americans has high blood pressure, a long-term constriction of arteries that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Using a sophisticated x-ray analysis, a U.S.-German team of scientists revealed the molecular structure of the angiotensin receptor AT1R, an important regulator for blood pressure in the human body.

New DNA codes for mammoths: Step toward bringing them back?

April 23, 2015 2:05 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are getting their best look yet at the DNA code for the woolly mammoth, thanks to work that could be a step toward bringing back the extinct beast. Researchers deciphered the complete DNA code, or genomes, of two mammoths. The new genomes are far more refined than a previous one announced in 2008.

Nondestructive 3-D imaging of biological cells with sound

April 23, 2015 8:28 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Much like magnetic resonance imaging is able to scan the interior of the human body, the emerging technique of "picosecond ultrasonics," a type of acoustic imaging, can be used to make virtual slices of biological tissues without destroying them. Now, a team of researchers in Japan and Thailand has shown that picosecond ultrasonics can achieve micron resolution of single cells, imaging their interiors in slices separated by 150 nm.

Nanoparticle drug reverses Parkinson’s-like symptoms in rats

April 22, 2015 11:26 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As baby boomers age, the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease is expected to increase. Patients who develop this disease usually start experiencing symptoms around age 60 or older. Currently, there's no cure, but scientists are reporting a novel approach that reversed Parkinson's-like symptoms in rats. Their results, published in ACS Nano, could one day lead to a new therapy for human patients.

Decoding the cell’s genetic filing system

April 22, 2015 11:09 am | by Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

A fully extended strand of human DNA measures about five feet in length. Yet it occupies a space just one-tenth of a cell by wrapping itself around histones to form a dense hub of information called chromatin. Access to these meticulously packed genes is regulated by post-translational modifications, chemical changes to the structure of histones that act as on-off signals for gene transcription.

Scientists watch living taste cells in action

April 22, 2015 10:08 am | by Australian National Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have, for the first time, captured live images of the process of taste sensation on the tongue. The international team imaged single cells on the tongue of a mouse with a specially designed microscope system.

Engineering the P450 enzyme to perform new reactions

April 22, 2015 8:24 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Enzymes, the micro machines in our cells, can evolve to perform new tasks when confronted with novel situations. But what if you want an enzyme to do an entirely different job—one that it would never have to do in a cell? In a recent report published in ACS Central Science, researchers show that they can mimic nature and perform evolution in a test tube, developing enzymes that can perform brand-new chemical reactions.

3-D structure solved for vulnerable region of glaucoma-causing protein

April 22, 2015 7:53 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Scientists have determined the 3-D structure of a key part of a protein that is associated with glaucoma and identified regions of this domain that correlate with severe forms of the disease. The new crystal structure is of the olfactomedin (OLF) domain in myocilin, a protein implicated in glaucoma. Many proteins have OLF domains, but mutations in the OLF domain of myocilin are linked to early-onset glaucoma.

A better grasp of primate grip

April 21, 2015 10:59 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability of humans and other primates throughout history. In a new study, a research team led by Yale Univ. found that even the oldest known human ancestors may have had precision grip capabilities comparable to modern humans. This includes Australopithecus afarensis, which appears in the fossil record a million years before the first evidence of stone tools.

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