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.
Univ. of South Florida researchers have suggested a new view of how stem cells may help repair the brain following trauma. In a series of preclinical experiments, they report that transplanted cells appear to build a “biobridge” that links an uninjured brain site where new neural stem cells are born with the damaged region of the brain.
Non-coding RNAs constitute the “dark matter of the genome”, as they are abundant but their function is largely unknown. Researchers in Canada have discovered how these RNA direct telomerase, a molecule essential for cancer development, toward structures on our genome called telomeres in order to maintain its integrity and in turn, the integrity of the genome.
Previous studies had established an association between the activity of certain types of neurons and the phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). Scientists have now found the source of this causal relationship and have used optogenetics techniques to induce and modulate REM sleep in mice.
Hold your nose and don't spit out your coffee: Doctors have found a way to put healthy people's poop into pills that can cure serious gut infections—a less yucky way to do "fecal transplants." Canadian researchers tried this on 27 patients and cured them all after strong antibiotics failed to help.
They were mystery diseases that had stumped doctors for years—adults with strange symptoms and children with neurological problems, mental slowness or muscles too weak to let them stand. Now scientists say they were able to crack a quarter of these cases by decoding the patients' genes. Their study is the first large-scale effort to move gene sequencing out of the lab and into ordinary medical care.
At the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, experts have been conducting research of “organs” on microchips. Unlike the few other laboratories conducting these types of studies, the Army is specifically looking at potential scenarios that will affect warfighters, especially chemical agent exposure.
Scientists have discovered a natural temperature sensor in a type of bacteria that causes meningitis and sepsis. The sensor allows the bacteria to evade the body’s immune response, leading to life-threatening infections. The Oxford Univ. team found that increasing temperature causes the bacteria to make more of a protective layer that surrounds the bacterium like an 'invisibility cloak' and helps it evade detection by the immune system.
An intriguing study led by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder may provide a powerful new tool in the quiver of forensic scientists attempting to determine the time of death in cases involving human corpses: a microbial clock. The clock is essentially the lock-step succession of bacterial changes that occur postmortem as bodies move through the decay process.
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute discovered that an antibody that binds and neutralizes HIV likely also targets the body’s own “self” proteins. This finding could complicate the development of HIV vaccines designed to elicit this protective antibody, called 4E10, and others like it, as doing so might be dangerous or inefficient.
The basics of conception are familiar to any high school freshman biology student, yet scientists have yet to find the initial molecular mechanisms that set off the cascade of events that form a developing embryo. Yale Univ. geneticists report they have identified one such trigger of life: The finger that pushes that first domino that makes all the other ones fall and initiates the making of an embryo.
Cancer cells metastasize in several stages—first by invading surrounding tissue, then by infiltrating and spreading via the circulatory system. Some circulating cells work their way out of the vascular network, eventually forming a secondary tumor. Now researchers have developed a microfluidic device that mimics the flow of cancer cells through a system of blood vessels. High-resolution time-lapse imaging captures the moment of metastasis.
Pinning down an effective way to combat the spread of HIV, the viral precursor to AIDS, has long been a challenge for scientists and physicians, because the virus is an elusive one that mutates frequently and, as a result, quickly becomes immune to medication. A team of Drexel Univ. researchers is trying to get one step ahead of the virus with a microbicide they’ve created that can trick HIV into “popping” itself into oblivion.
Bug spray, citronella candles, mosquito netting—most people will do anything they can to stay away from insects during the warmer months. But those creepy crawlers we try so hard to avoid may offer substantial solutions to some of life’s problems. Researchers using x-ray technology at the Advanced Photon Source were able to take an inside look at several insects, gathering results that go beyond learning about insect physiology and biology.
A “vicious cycle” produces mucus that protects uterine and pancreatic cancer cells and promotes their proliferation, according to researchers at Rice Univ. The researchers offer hope for a therapeutic solution. They found that protein receptors on the surface of cancer cells go into overdrive to stimulate the production of MUC1, which covers the exposed tips of the elongated epithelial cells that coat internal organs to prevent infection.
Do the smallest plankton organisms determine the future of the ocean? A five-week long field experiment shows that pico- and nanophytoplankton benefit from higher carbon dioxide concentrations in the water, causing an imbalance in the food web. In addition, the carbon export to the deep ocean and the production of the climate-cooling gas dimethyl sulfide are diminished—two important functions for the global climate.