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Peat soils as gigantic batteries

February 28, 2014 4:02 pm | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurch | News | Comments

Researchers from ETH Zurich and the Univ. of Tubingen in Europehave recently described a process that suppresses the formation of methane in soils that are rich in humic substances. The soils act as a battery, releasing to and accepting electrons from soil bacteria depending on the presence of oxygen. The study shows that electron transfer to and from humic substances is an important process with global implications for methane release.

Earlier Detection of Cancer

February 28, 2014 1:55 pm | by Muneesh Tewari, Univ. of Michigan, and George Karlin-Neumann, Director of Scientific Affairs, Bio-Rad's Digital Biology Center | Articles | Comments

Finding treatments for advanced stage cancer isn’t easy. Therefore, early detection methods are paramount in the fight against the disease. Motivated by the opportunity to intervene as early as possible in the course of cancer, Dr. Muneesh Tewari, a Univ. of Michigan researcher, has been studying the diagnostic potential of blood-based biomarkers.

Researchers create coating material to prevent blood clots associated with implants

February 28, 2014 10:42 am | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A team of researchers has developed a material that could help prevent blood clots associated with catheters, heart valves, vascular grafts and other implanted biomedical devices. Blood clots at or near implanted devices are thought to occur when the flow of nitric oxide, a naturally occurring clot-preventing agent generated in the blood vessels, is cut off. When this occurs, the devices can fail.

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Combination therapies combat HIV at cell junctions

February 28, 2014 10:36 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A new Yale Univ. study indicates that cell-to-cell transmission of HIV particles contributes to the development of full-blown AIDS and helps predict which anti-retroviral therapies will be most effective at keeping the disease at bay. The new research reinforces recent findings that a heavy concentration of the virus at the point of contact between cells is crucial to the development of AIDS.

Tracking genes on the path to genetic treatment

February 28, 2014 8:36 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Before doctors like Matthias Kretzler can begin using the results of molecular research to treat patients, they need science to find an effective way to match genes with the specific cells involved in disease. As Kretzler explains, finding that link would eventually let physicians create far more effective diagnostic tools and treatments.

Disease-causing bacterial invaders aided by failure of immune system switch

February 27, 2014 1:06 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Immune system defenses against dangerous bacteria in the gut can be breached by turning off a single molecular switch that governs production of the protective mucus lining our intestinal walls, according to a study led by researchers at Yale Univ., the Univ. of British Columbia and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Faster anthrax detection could speed bioterror response

February 27, 2014 12:47 pm | News | Comments

Shortly following the 9/11 terror attack in 2001, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to news outlets and government buildings killing five people and infecting 17 others. According to a 2012 report, the bioterrorism event cost $3.2 million in cleanup and decontamination. At the time, no testing system was in place that officials could use to screen the letters.

One gene influences recovery from traumatic brain injury

February 27, 2014 9:44 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers report that one tiny variation in the sequence of a gene may cause some people to be more impaired by traumatic brain injury than others with comparable wounds. The study, described in PLOS ONE, measured general intelligence in a group of 156 Vietnam War veterans who suffered penetrating head injuries during the war.

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Need a water filter? Peel a tree branch

February 27, 2014 7:39 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

If you’ve run out of drinking water during a lakeside camping trip, there’s a simple solution: Break off a branch from the nearest pine tree, peel away the bark and slowly pour lake water through the stick. The improvised filter should trap any bacteria, producing fresh, uncontaminated water. In fact, a team has discovered that this low-tech filtration system can produce up to 4 L of drinking water a day.

DNA blood tests show prenatal screening promise

February 26, 2014 5:20 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A DNA test of a pregnant woman's blood is more accurate than current methods of screening for Down syndrome and other common disorders, new research finds. If other studies bear this out, it could transform prenatal care by giving a more reliable, non-invasive way to detect these problems very early in pregnancy.

Nanoscale freezing leads to better imaging

February 26, 2014 4:40 pm | by Justin H.S. Breaux | News | Comments

For scientists to determine if a cell is functioning properly, they often must destroy it with ionizing radiation, which is used in x-ray fluorescence microscopy to provide detail that conventional microscopes can’t match. To address this, Argonne National Laboratory researchers created the R&D 100 Award-winning Bionanoprobe, which freezes cells to “see” at greater detail without damaging the sample.

Maze puts images on floor, where rats look

February 26, 2014 3:01 pm | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Visual acuity is sharpest for rats and mice when the animals are looking down. Researchers have found that rodents can learn tasks in a fourth to a sixth of the usual number of repetitions when visual stimuli are projected onto the floor of the maze rather than onto the walls.

Finding a few foes among billions of friends

February 26, 2014 2:46 pm | by Steven Powell, Univ. of South Carolina | News | Comments

Beating cancer is all about early detection, and new research from the Univ. of South Carolina is another step forward in catching the disease early. A team of chemists is reporting a new way to detect just a few lurking tumor cells, which can be outnumbered a billion to one in the bloodstream by healthy cells.

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Self-administration of flu vaccine with a patch may be feasible

February 26, 2014 2:17 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The annual ritual of visiting a doctor’s office or health clinic to receive a flu shot may soon be outdated, thanks to the findings of a new study. The research, which involved nearly 100 people recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area, found that test subjects could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves.

FDA weighs unknowns of 3-person embryo technique

February 26, 2014 10:42 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

At a recent two-day meeting, the Food and Drug Administration heard from supporters and opponents of a provocative new technique meant to prevent children from inheriting debilitating diseases. The method creates babies from the DNA of three people, and the agency is considering whether to greenlight testing in women who have defective genes.

Experimental treatment eradicates acute leukemia in mice

February 26, 2014 7:53 am | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A diverse team of scientists from Univ. of California, Los Angeles' Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has developed an experimental treatment that eradicates an acute type of leukemia in mice without any detectable toxic side effects. The drug works by blocking two important metabolic pathways that the leukemia cells need to grow and spread.

“Bad cholesterol” indicates an amino acid deficiency

February 26, 2014 7:29 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad cholesterol” that doctors consider a sign of potential heart disease, is merely a marker of a diet lacking all of the essential amino acids, says Univ. of Illinois comparative biosciences prof. Fred Kummerow, 99, a longtime opponent of the medical establishment’s war on cholesterol.

Silver gone astray

February 25, 2014 5:04 pm | News | Comments

It has long been known that free, ionic silver particles can be highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Yet we a lack of detailed knowledge about the doses required to trigger a response and how the organisms deal with the stress. To learn more about the cellular processes, scientists in Switzerland subjected algae to a range of silver concentrations. The results are reassuring, but the presence of other stressors could compound the problem.

Soy supplements with isoflavones “reprogram” breast cancer cells

February 25, 2014 8:05 am | by Sharita Forrest, News Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Women with estrogen-responsive breast cancer who consume soy protein supplements containing isoflavones to alleviate the side effects of menopause may be accelerating progression of their cancer, changing it from a treatable subtype to a more aggressive, less treatable form of the disease, new research suggests.

New technology detects cellular memory

February 24, 2014 11:10 am | News | Comments

Cells in our body are constantly dividing to maintain our body functions. At each division, our DNA code and a whole machinery of supporting components has to be faithfully duplicated to maintain the cell’s memory of its own identity. Researchers in Denmark have developed a new technology that reveal the dynamic events of this duplication process and the secrets of cellular memory.

Researchers use light to quickly, easily measure blood clotting

February 24, 2014 10:38 am | News | Comments

Defective blood coagulation is one of the leading causes of preventable death in patients who have suffered trauma or undergone surgery. To provide caregivers with timely information about the clotting properties of a patient’s blood, researchers have developed an optical device that requires only a few drops of blood and a few minutes to measure the key coagulation parameters that can guide medical decisions.

New biological scaffold is “home, sweet home” for stem cells

February 24, 2014 10:34 am | News | Comments

Typically, researchers construct cell-building scaffolds from synthetic materials or natural animal or human substances. Until now, however, no scaffolds grown in a Petri dish have been able to mimic the highly organized structure of the matrix made by living things. Researchers in Michigan have used a nano-grate to persuade fibroblasts to grow a scaffold with fibers just 80 nm, similar to to fibers in a natural matrix.

Nanotechnology in glass sponge

February 24, 2014 9:54 am | News | Comments

To attach itself to surfaces, the marine sponge Monorhaphis chuni forms an unusual glass rod. Researchers have recently analyzed the nanostructure of the filament passing through the center of this glass rod and discovered that it is formed with a perfect periodic arrangement of nanopores. In this way, the sponge employs a similar method that is now used for fabrication of man-made mesoporous nanomaterials.

Tissue-penetrating light release chemotherapy inside cancer cells

February 24, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

A light-activated drug delivery system for treating cancer is particularly promising to traditional chemotherapy methods because it can accomplish spatial and temporal control of drug release. To this end, scientists have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can absorb energy from tissue-penetrating light that releases drugs in cancer cells.

Meet your match: Algorithms to spark scientific collaboration

February 21, 2014 10:33 am | News | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. have developed a novel approach to enabling collaborations between researchers at conferences and academic meetings: Treat them like genes. Using mathematical algorithms, the team created a method of matching conference-goers according to pre-set criteria, bringing about unforeseen collaboration opportunities while also enabling “would-like-to-meet” match-ups across disciplines and knowledge areas.

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