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Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia

July 23, 2014 9:27 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

More than 100 researchers from around the world have collaborated in the biggest-ever genomic mapping of schizophrenia, for which scientists had previously uncovered only about a couple of dozen risk-related genes. Since this research began, scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick.

Instrument enables high-speed chemical imaging of tissues

July 23, 2014 8:06 am | News | Comments

A research team from NIST, working with the Cleveland Clinic, has demonstrated a dramatically improved technique for analyzing biological cells and tissues based on characteristic molecular vibration "signatures." The new NIST technique is an advanced form of the widely used spontaneous Raman spectroscopy, but one that delivers signals that are 10,000 times stronger than obtained from spontaneous Raman scattering.

RFID tags on honey bees reveal hive dynamics

July 23, 2014 7:56 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Scientists attached radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to hundreds of individual honey bees and tracked them for several weeks. The effort yielded two discoveries: Some foraging bees are much busier than others; and if those busy bees disappear, others will take their place.

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Bacteria swim with bodies and flagella

July 22, 2014 8:43 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

When it comes to swimming, the bodies of some bacteria are more than just dead weight, according to new research from Brown Univ. Many bacteria swim using flagella, corkscrew-like appendages that push or pull bacterial cells like tiny propellers. It's long been assumed that the flagella do all the work during swimming, while the rest of the cell body is just along for the ride.

More than glitter

July 21, 2014 10:35 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

A special class of tiny gold particles can easily slip through cell membranes, making them good candidates to deliver drugs directly to target cells. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology materials scientists reveals that these nanoparticles enter cells by taking advantage of a route normally used in vesicle-vesicle fusion, a crucial process that allows signal transmission between neurons. 

Reconstructing an animal’s development cell by cell

July 21, 2014 9:36 am | News | Comments

Janelia Research Campus experts have built a new computational method that can essentially automate much of the time-consuming process of reconstructing an animal's developmental building plan cell by cell. Using image data obtaining using a sophisticated form of light sheet microscopy, the tool can track the movement of cells in an animal’s body in 3-D.

Scientists map one of the most important proteins in life—and cancer

July 21, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

In the U.K., researchers have revealed the structure of one of the most important and complicated proteins in cell division, the anaphase-promoting complex. Electron microscopy and software has produced images of the gigantic protein in unprecedented detail and could transform scientists' understanding of exactly how cells copy their chromosomes and divide. It could also reveal binding sites for future cancer drugs.

All HIV not created equal: Scientists can identify which viruses cause infection

July 21, 2014 8:07 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

HIV-infected people carry many different HIV viruses and all have distinct personalities—some much more vengeful and infectious than others. Yet, despite the breadth of infectivity, roughly 76% of HIV infections arise from a single virus. Now, scientists believe they can identify the culprit with very specific measurements of the quantities of a key protein in the HIV virus.

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HIV diagnosis rate fell by third in U.S. over decade

July 19, 2014 11:17 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the U.S. each year fell by one-third over the past decade, a government study finds. Experts celebrated it as hopeful news that the AIDS epidemic may be slowing in the U.S. The reasons for the drop aren't clear. It might mean fewer new infections are occurring. Or that most infected people already have been diagnosed so more testing won't necessarily find many more cases.

Medical marijuana researcher fired by university

July 18, 2014 9:21 pm | by Astrid Galvan - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Veterans, medical marijuana activists and scientists welcomed the first federally approved research into pot as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. But their hopes for the research were dashed when the Univ. of Arizona fired researcher Suzanne Sisley, who undertook the study after clearing four years of bureaucratic hurdles.

Scientists enlist big data to guide conservation efforts

July 18, 2014 12:37 pm | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

“Big data” has yet to make a mark on conservation efforts to preserve the planet’s biodiversity. But that may soon change with a new model developed by Univ. of California, Berkeley, biologist Brent Mishler and his colleagues in Australia. This effort  leverages the growing mass of data to take into account not only the number of species throughout an area, but also the variation among species and their geographic rarity, or endemism.

Researchers create new method to draw molecules from live cells

July 18, 2014 12:30 pm | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Most current methods of identifying intracellular information result in the death of the individual cells, making it impossible to continue to gain information and assess change over time. Using magnetized carbon nanotubes, scientists in Texas have devised a new method for extracting molecules from live cells without disrupting cell development.

Nature’s strongest glue comes unstuck

July 18, 2014 11:23 am | News | Comments

Barnacle glue, or cement, sticks to any surface, under any conditions. And it’s still far better than anything we have been able to develop synthetically. Now, over 150 years since it was first described by Charles Darwin, scientists are finally uncovering the secrets behind the super strength of barnacle glue.

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Researchers uncover new cancer cell vulnerability

July 18, 2014 9:59 am | News | Comments

Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center researchers have uncovered a genetic vulnerability of cancer cells that express telomerase and showed that telomerase-expressing cells depend upon a gene named p21 for their survival. Authors found that simultaneous inhibition of both telomerase and p21 inhibited tumor growth in mice.

Lipoic acid helps restore, synchronize the “biological clock”

July 18, 2014 9:03 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered a possible explanation for the surprisingly large range of biological effects that are linked to a micronutrient called lipoic acid: It appears to reset and synchronize circadian rhythms, or the “biological clock” found in most life forms. The ability of lipoic acid to help restore a more normal circadian rhythm to aging animals could explain its apparent value in so many important biological functions.

National Xenopus Resource at MBL innovates new way to study proteins

July 17, 2014 10:45 am | by Laurel Hamers, Marine Biological Laboratory | News | Comments

Many organisms that hold potential for proteomic analysis do not yet have a completely sequenced genome because the costs are prohibitive. Xenopus laevis, the African clawed frog, is one such species. Researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory have found a work-around. Instead of relying on DNA, they used mRNA sequences to more efficiently create a reference database that can be used for proteomic analysis of Xenopus.

Cell membrane proteins give up their secrets

July 17, 2014 8:03 am | Videos | Comments

Biological physicists at Rice Univ. have succeeded in analyzing transmembrane protein folding in the same way they study the proteins’ free-floating, globular cousins. They have applied energy landscape theory to proteins that are hard to view because they are inside cell membranes. The method should increase the technique’s value to researchers who study proteins implicated in diseases and possibly in the creation of drugs to treat them.

Are ants the answer to carbon dioxide sequestration?

July 17, 2014 7:24 am | News | Comments

A 25-year-long study published in Geology provides the first quantitative measurement of in situ calcium-magnesium silicate mineral dissolution by ants, termites, tree roots, and bare ground. This study reveals that ants are one of the most powerful biological agents of mineral decay yet observed. This discovery might offer a line of research on how to "geoengineer" accelerated carbon dioxide consumption by Ca-Mg silicates.

Trying gene therapy to create biological pacemaker

July 16, 2014 2:22 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

No batteries required: Scientists are creating a biological pacemaker by injecting a gene into the hearts of sick pigs that changed ordinary cardiac cells into a special kind that induces a steady heartbeat. The study, published Wednesday, is one step toward developing an alternative to electronic pacemakers that are implanted into 300,000 Americans a year.

Entomology research fights mosquitoes with mosquitoes

July 15, 2014 4:58 pm | Videos | Comments

Researchers in Kentucky have developed a technology that uses male mosquitoes to effectively sterilize females through a naturally occurring bacterium. Called MosquitoMate, the new technology has been issued an experimental use permit for open field releases targeting the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, which is a vector for newly introduced pathogens like the Chikungunya virus.

Removing parts of shape-shifting protein explains how blood clots

July 15, 2014 1:54 pm | News | Comments

Prothrombin is an inactive precursor for thrombin, a key blood-clotting protein, and is essential for life because of its ability to coagulate blood. Using x-ray crystallography, researchers have published the first image of this important protein. By removing disordered sections of the protein’s structure, scientists have revealed its underlying molecular mechanism for the first time.

Technology could screen for emerging viral diseases

July 15, 2014 11:58 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A microbe detection array technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists could provide a new rapid method for public health authorities to conduct surveillance for emerging viral diseases. This possible use of the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) was studied by an international team of researchers from eight nations in a paper published in the PLOS ONE.

Study: Friends share similarities in their DNA

July 15, 2014 9:20 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

You may be more similar to your friends than you think. A new study suggests that the DNA code tends to be more alike between friends than between strangers, and the similarity goes beyond the effect of shared ethnicity. The difference is slight but detectable and consistent, and the finding could be important for theories about human evolution.

Capturing cancer: A powerful, new technique for early diagnosis

July 15, 2014 8:28 am | by Richard Harth, Arizona State Univ. Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

Despite impressive medical strides, cancer remains a leading killer and overwhelming burden to healthcare systems, causing well over a half million fatalities per year with a projected cost of $174 billion by 2020, according to the National Cancer Institute. Reducing the human and economic toll will require diagnosis and intervention at early stages of illness, when the best prognosis for a cure exists.

Study: U.S. Alzheimer's rate seems to be dropping

July 15, 2014 3:17 am | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is falling in the U.S. and some other rich countries—good news about an epidemic that is still growing simply because more people are living to an old age, new studies show. An American over age 60 today has a 44% lower chance of developing dementia than a similar-aged person did roughly 30 years ago, the longest study of these trends in the U.S. concluded.

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