Cell biologists and chemists in Switzerland have revealed how viral DNA moves in human cells. They have developed a new method to generate virus particles containing labeled viral DNA genomes, which has allowed them to visualize, for the first time, single viral genomes in the cytoplasm and the nucleus.
Human fingertips have several types of sensory neurons that are responsible for relaying touch signals to the central nervous system. Scientists have long believed these neurons followed a linear path to the brain with a "labeled-lines" structure. But new research on mouse whiskers reveals a surprise: At the fine scale, the sensory system's wiring diagram doesn't have a set pattern.
Researchers at Oregon State Univ. and other institutions announced the successful use of a new type of antibacterial agent called a PPMO, which appears to function as well or better than an antibiotic, but may be more precise and also solve problems with antibiotic resistance. In animal studies, one form of PPMO showed significant control of two strains of Acinetobacter, a group of bacteria of global concern.
About a dozen years ago, scientists discovered that a hormone called ghrelin enhances appetite. Dubbed the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin was quickly targeted by drug companies seeking treatments for obesity—none of which have yet panned out. Neuroscientists have now discovered that ghrelin’s role goes far beyond controlling hunger.
New research from the Univ. of California, Davis shows that the tiny proportion of a cell's DNA that is located outside the cell nucleus has a disproportionately large effect on a cell's metabolism. The work, with the model plant Arabidopsis, may have implications for future treatments for inherited diseases in humans.
U.S. and German scientists have decoded a key molecular gateway for the toxin that causes botulism, pointing the way to treatments that can keep the food-borne poison out of the bloodstream. The study leaders created a 3-D crystal model of a complex protein compound in the botulinum neurotoxin. This compound binds to the inner lining of the small intestine and allows passage of the toxin into the bloodstream.
Scotland announced that leading industry players, Sistemic and Roslin Cells, are going to work together with Scottish Development International to make the process of undertaking clinical trials in cell therapy easier, faster and more successful in reaching commercial realization.
When the "war on cancer" was declared, identifying potential biomarkers that would allow doctors to detect the disease early on was a significant goal. To this day, progress depends on understanding the underlying causes and molecular mechanisms of the disease. In a new study, researchers analyzed the gene-expression profiles of more than 2,000 patients and were able to identify cancer-specific gene signatures for certain cancers.
An important step in building ribosomes is like a strictly choreographed dance, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, have discovered. To build these factories, other “machines” inside the cell have to produce specific RNA molecules and fold them into the right shape, then combine the folded RNA with proteins to form a working ribosome.
Stem cell therapy for heart disease is happening. Around the world, thousands of heart disease patients have been treated in clinical studies with some form of bone marrow cells or stem cells. But in these studies, the actual impact on heart function was modest or inconsistent. One reason is that most of the cells either don’t stay in the heart or die soon after being introduced into the body. Cardiology researchers have a solution.
When The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) launched its collaborative approach to organ-by-organ genomic analysis of cancers, the brain had both the benefit, and the challenge, of going first. TCGA ganged up on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), with more than 100 scientists from 14 institutions tracking down the genomic abnormalities that drive GBM. Five years later, TCGA revisited glioblastoma, producing a broader, deeper picture of the drivers.
Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers have settled a century-old debate over whether occurrence of DNA methylation acts to silence gene expression, or if genes are turned off by other means before they are methylated. As explicated in Nature, methylation in fact enforces gene silencing.
Case Western Reserve Univ. researchers have published findings that point to a promising discovery for the treatment and prevention of prion diseases, rare neurodegenerative disorders that are always fatal. The researchers discovered that recombinant human prion protein stops the propagation of prions, the infectious pathogens that cause the diseases.
Researchers have developed a new quantitative method of identifying pollen grains that is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Since the invention of the light microscopes, the classification of pollen and spores has been a highly subjective venture for those who use these tiny particles to study vegetation in their field, palynology. However, the limitations have kept researchers from classifying pollen and spores beyond a general level.
The microscopic technique, developed by researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London, represents a major advance for cell biologists as it will allow them to investigate structures deep inside the cell, such as viruses, bacteria and parts of the nucleus in depth.
A few desperately ill patients have managed to get into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health's famed hospital, even though the government's partial shutdown has others being turned away, the agency said. Normally, about 200 new patients every week enroll in studies at the NIH's research-only hospital, often referred to as the "house of hope" because so many of those people have failed standard treatments.
You might not think to look to a urine test to diagnose an eye disease. But a new Duke Univ. study says it can link what is in a patient's urine to gene mutations that cause retinitis pigmentosa, or RP, an inherited, degenerative disease that results in severe vision impairment and often blindness.
Scientists report in Nature Communications that they have engineered yeast to consume acetic acid, a previously unwanted byproduct of the process of converting plant leaves, stems and other tissues into biofuels. The innovation increases ethanol yield from lignocellulosic sources by about 10%.
Working with a synthetic gene circuit designed to coax bacteria to grow in a predictable ring pattern, Duke Univ. scientists have revealed an underappreciated contributor to natural pattern formation: time. A series of experiments published by the Duke team show that their engineered gene circuit functions as a timing mechanism, triggering a predictable ring growth pattern that adjusts to the size of its environment.
A Case Western Univ. team studied how proteins bind to RNA, a process required for gene expression. It is known that some proteins only bind RNAs with certain sequences. Other proteins have been deemed “non-specific” because they interact with RNAs at seemingly random places. But the team has published a study showing that non-specific proteins actually do have the ability to be specific about where they bind to RNA.
Scientists at the Univ. of Southern California have created a mathematical model that explains and predicts the biological process that creates antibody diversity, the phenomenon that keeps us healthy by generating robust immune systems through hypermutation.
Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have devised a new technique for connecting drug molecules to antibodies to make advanced therapies. Antibody-drug conjugates are the basis of new therapies on the market that use the target-recognizing ability of antibodies to deliver drug payloads to specific cell types. The new technique allows drug developers to forge more stable conjugates than are possible with current methods.
The 2013 Nobel Prize honors three scientists who have solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system. Each cell is a factory that produces and exports molecules. These molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell.
A global hunt for genes that influence heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter the levels of cholesterol and other blood fats—a discovery that could lead to new medications. Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets.
The announcements of this year's Nobel Prize winners will start Monday with the medicine award and continue with physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics. The secretive award committees never give away any hints in advance of who could win, but here's a look at five big scientific breakthroughs that haven't yet received a Nobel prize.