What came first: the bipedal human ancestor or the grassland encroaching on the forest? A new analysis of the past 12 million years' of vegetation change in the cradle of humanity is challenging long-held beliefs about the world in which our ancestors took shape—and, by extension, the impact it had on them.
Although several hundred different forms of the immune genes exist in humans, individuals only have a few variants which co-determine their typical body odor, their individual “scent”. Scientists in Germany have succeeded in explaining the chemical nature of this individual scent. They have also synthesized it and have tested its effectiveness on people. The results show how perfumes that are completely effective biologically can be produced synthetically without resorting to animal products.
To get a clear picture of what’s happening inside a cell, scientists need to know the locations of thousands of proteins and other molecules. Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have now developed a technique that can tag all of the proteins in a particular region of a cell, allowing them to more accurately map those proteins.
Scientists in the U.K. have reported that they have developed a method that cuts down the time it takes to make new “parts” for microscopic biological factories from two days to only six hours. The technique does away with the need to re-engineer a cell’s DNA every time a new part is needed. The researchers say their research brings them another step closer to a new kind of industrial revolution, where parts for these biological factories could be mass-produced.
In a study designed to find out how smell is written into a molecule’s structure, scientists in England tested whether changing how a molecule vibrates on a nanoscale changes its smell. They found that molecular vibrations, rather than molecular shape, give substances their distinct smell.
The basis of natural biological motors essential to life are enzymes—proteins that jump-start chemical reactions. Scientists long have wondered whether a single enzyme molecule, the smallest machine that could possibly exist, might be able to generate enough force to cause its own movement in a specific direction. A recent publication offers positive evidence for this possibility from recent experiments.
Transposable elements are mobile strands of DNA that insert themselves into chromosomes with mostly harmful consequences. Cells try to keep them locked down, but in a new study, Brown University researchers report that aging cells lose their ability to maintain this control. The result may be a further decline in the health of senescent cells and of the aging bodies they compose.
A genetic variant commonly found in Chinese people may help explain why some got seriously ill with swine flu, a discovery scientists say could help pinpoint why flu viruses hit some populations particularly hard and change how they are treated. Less than one percent of Caucasians are thought to have the gene alteration, which has previously been linked to severe influenza. Yet about 25% of Chinese people have the gene variant, which is also common in Japanese and Korean people.
The connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older has been elusive. But for the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a link between these hallmark maladies of old age. Their discovery opens the door to boosting the quality of sleep in elderly people to improve memory.
Two science projects—one to map the human brain, the other to explore the extraordinary properties of the carbon-based material graphene—were declared the winners Monday of an EU technologies contest and will receive up to €1 billion ($1.35 billion) each over the next 10 years.
In a development that could lead to faster and more effective toxicity tests for airborne chemicals, scientists from Rice University and the Rice spinoff company Nano3D Biosciences have used magnetic levitation to grow some of the most realistic lung tissue ever produced in a laboratory.
Computer scientists at Virginia Tech developed a new approach to address the shortcomings in the computational analysis of the multiple ways interactions can occur within cells. Their work may lead to further understanding of the interactions between molecules.
Some types of carbon nanotubes used for strengthening plastics and other materials may have an adverse effect on soil microbiology and soil microbial processes, a Purdue University study shows. Specifically, these raw, non-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes were shown to damage the active microbiology in low-organic soil.
Like flocks of birds, cells coordinate their motions as they race to cover and ultimately heal wounds to the skin. How that happens is a little less of a mystery today. Researchers once thought only the cells at the edge of a growing patch of wounded skin were actively moving while dividing cells passively filled in the middle. But that's only part of the picture. A Rice University team has discovered that the process works much more efficiently if highly activated cells in every part of the patch exert force as they pull their neighbors along.
A new study of 152 Vietnam veterans with combat-related brain injuries offers the first detailed map of the brain regions that contribute to emotional intelligence—the ability to process emotional information and navigate the social world.
In the same week that a team of researchers in France announced the harmful effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on hormone levels in human tissue, researchers in Texas have demonstrated through experiments that the BPA substitute bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity at an extremely low level of exposure, and in an even more problematic way.
While working out the structure of a cell-killing protein produced by some strains of the bacterium Enterococcus faecalis, researchers stumbled on a bit of unusual biochemistry. They found that a single enzyme helps form distinctly different, 3D ring structures in the protein, one of which had never been observed before.
Microbiologists who study wild marine microbes, as opposed to the laboratory-grown variety, face enormous challenges in getting a clear picture of the daily activities of their subjects. But a team of scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently figured out how to make the equivalent of a nature film, showing the simultaneous activities of many coexisting species in their native habitat over time.
The purpose of cell division is to evenly distribute the genome between two daughter cells. But this process is highly prone to interaction errors between chromosomes and spindles. Studies led by cell biologist Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are revealing new details about a molecular surveillance system that helps detect and correct errors in cell division that can lead to cell death or human diseases
Studies led by cell biologist Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are revealing new details about a molecular surveillance system that helps detect and correct errors in cell division that can lead to cell death or human diseases.
Marking the culmination of over 10 years of investigation by scientists to show—in vivo—that complex four-stranded structures exist in the human genome alongside Watson and Crick’s famous double helix, researchers in the U.K. have recently published a paper that goes on to show clear links between concentrations of four-stranded quadruplexes and the process of DNA replication, which is pivotal to cell division and production.
Biomedical researchers studying aging and cancer are intensely interested in telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. In a new study, scientists at UC Santa Cruz used a novel technique to reveal structural and mechanical properties of telomeres that could help guide the development of new anti-cancer drugs.
The development of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)—a tool used to gauge real-time brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow—has given researchers the opportunity to try to answer various questions about the brain and mind. But some are not convinced of its usefulness, and a new report published by Association for Psychological Science takes stock of what fMRI has actually accomplished.
An assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering is using the teeth of a marine snail found off the coast of California to create less costly and more efficient nanoscale materials to improve solar cells and lithium-ion batteries.
Be it triumph or crushing defeat, exhilaration or agony, body language more accurately conveys intense emotions, according to recent research that challenges the predominance of facial expressions as an indicator of how a person feels. Princeton University researchers report that facial expressions can be ambiguous and subjective when viewed independently.