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Sequencing of fish reveals diverse molecular mechanisms underlying evolution

September 5, 2014 9:49 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers have sequenced the genomes and transcriptomes of five species of African cichlid fishes and uncovered a variety of features that enabled the fishes to thrive in new habitats and ecological niches within the Great Lakes of East Africa. The study helps explain the genetic basis for the incredible diversity among cichlid fishes and provides new information about vertebrate evolution.

2-D or 3-D? That is the question

September 5, 2014 8:04 am | News | Comments

The increased visual realism of 3-D films is believed to offer viewers a more vivid and lifelike experience than 2-D because it more closely approximates real life. However, psychology researchers at the Univ. of Utah, among those who use film clips routinely in the laboratory to study patients’ emotional conditions, have found that there is no significant difference between the two formats.

Should scientists handle retractions differently?

September 5, 2014 7:33 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It’s one of the highest-profile cases of scientific fraud in memory: In 2005, South Korean researcher Woo-Suk Hwang and colleagues made international news by claiming that they had produced embryonic stem cells from a cloned human embryo using nuclear transfer. But within a year, the work had been debunked, soon followed by findings of fraud. South Korea put a moratorium on stem cell research funding.

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Researchers turn to plants to help treat hemophilia

September 4, 2014 1:02 pm | by April Frawley Birdwell, Univ. of Florida | News | Comments

Up to 30% of people with the most common form of hemophilia develop antibodies that attack lifesaving protein injections, making it difficult to prevent or treat excessive bleeding. Now researchers have developed a way to thwart production of these antibodies by using plant cells to teach the immune system to tolerate rather than attack the clotting factors.

Scientists map protein in living bacterial cells

September 4, 2014 8:29 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have for the first time mapped the atomic structure of a protein within a living cell. The technique, which peered into cells with an x-ray laser, could allow scientists to explore some components of living cells as never before.

Cellular RNA can template DNA repair in yeast

September 4, 2014 7:54 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The ability to accurately repair DNA damaged by spontaneous errors, oxidation or mutagens is crucial to the survival of cells. This repair is normally accomplished by using an identical or homologous intact sequence of DNA, but scientists have now shown that RNA produced within cells of a common budding yeast can serve as a template for repairing the most devastating DNA damage—a break in both strands of a DNA helix.

Scientists make diseased cells synthesize their own drug

September 3, 2014 8:34 am | News | Comments

In a new study that could ultimately lead to many new medicines, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing sites for molecules that can treat a form of muscular dystrophy.

Sabotage as therapy

September 3, 2014 8:00 am | by Vicky Agnew, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Cancer Center researchers may have discovered a new way of harnessing lupus antibodies to sabotage cancer cells made vulnerable by deficient DNA repair. The study found that cancer cells with deficient DNA repair mechanisms (or the inability to repair their own genetic damage) were significantly more vulnerable to attack by lupus antibodies.

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Scientists discover how to “switch off” autoimmune diseases

September 3, 2014 7:50 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Scientists have made an important breakthrough in the fight against debilitating autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis by revealing how to stop cells attacking healthy body tissue. Rather than the body’s immune system destroying its own tissue by mistake, researchers at the Univ. of Bristol have discovered how cells convert from being aggressive to actually protecting against disease.

Nano-sized synthetic scaffolding technique

September 3, 2014 7:33 am | by Jim Barlow, Director of Science and Research Communications, Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

Scientists have tapped oil and water to create scaffolds of self-assembling, synthetic proteins called peptoid nanosheets that mimic complex biological mechanisms and processes. The accomplishmentis expected to fuel an alternative design of the 2-D peptoid nanosheets that can be used in a broad range of applications. Among them could be improved chemical sensors and separators, and safer, more effective drug delivery vehicles.

Double mastectomy doesn't boost survival for most

September 2, 2014 4:26 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Removing both breasts to treat cancer affecting only one side doesn't boost survival chances for most women, compared with surgery that removes just the tumor, a large study suggests. The results raise concerns about riskier, potentially unnecessary operations that increasing numbers of women are choosing.

Ebola genomes sequenced

September 2, 2014 10:28 am | by Lisa Girard, Broad Institute Communication | News | Comments

Responding rapidly to the deadly outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa, a team of researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard Univ., working with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and researchers elsewhere, has sequenced and analyzed many Ebola virus genomes. Their findings could have important implications for rapid field diagnostic tests.

Research hints at why stress is more devastating for some

September 2, 2014 9:52 am | by Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Some people take stress in stride; others are done in by it. New research at Rockefeller Univ. has identified the molecular mechanisms of this so-called stress gap in mice with very similar genetic backgrounds—a finding that could lead researchers to better understand the development of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.

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Surprising new role for calcium in sensing pain

September 2, 2014 7:53 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

When you accidentally touch a hot oven, you rapidly pull your hand away. Although scientists know the basic neural circuits involved in sensing and responding to such painful stimuli, they are still sorting out the molecular players. Duke Univ. researchers have made a surprising discovery about the role of a key molecule involved in pain in worms, and have built a structural model of the molecule.

Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study

August 29, 2014 1:28 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An experimental Ebola drug healed all 18 monkeys infected with the deadly virus in a study, boosting hopes that the treatment might help fight the outbreak raging through West Africa. Scientists gave the drug, called ZMapp, three to five days after infecting the monkeys in the laboratory. Most were showing symptoms by then, and all completely recovered.

We travel with our own germs

August 29, 2014 5:24 am | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Sorry, clean freaks. No matter how well you scrub your home, it's covered in bacteria from your own body. And if you pack up and move, new research shows, you'll rapidly transfer your unique microbial fingerprint to the doorknobs, countertops and floors in your new house, too.

From nose to knee: Engineered cartilage regenerates joints

August 28, 2014 11:59 am | News | Comments

Cartilage lesions in joints often appear in older people as a result of degenerative processes, and appear in younger people after injuries and accidents. Such defects are difficult to repair and often require complicated surgery and long rehabilitation times. Researchers in Switzerland have reported that cells taken from the nasal septum are able to adapt to the environment of the knee joint and can thus repair articular cartilage defects.

New DARPA program aimed at developing customized therapies

August 28, 2014 9:11 am | News | Comments

DARPA’s new Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program was among the initiatives the White House highlighted this week as President Barack Obama addressed the need for new and more effective strategies for improving the health of service members, veterans and others. ElectRx goes beyond medication, aiming to explore neuromodulation of organ functions to help the human body heal itself.

Water “thermostat” could help engineer drought-resistant crops

August 28, 2014 8:58 am | News | Comments

Duke Univ. researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability and adjusts the plant’s water conservation machinery accordingly. The effect is similar to a thermostat.

Neuroscientists reverse memories’ emotional associations

August 28, 2014 8:27 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most memories have some kind of emotion associated with them. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists reveals the brain circuit that controls how memories become linked with positive or negative emotions. Furthermore, the researchers found that they could reverse the emotional association of specific memories by manipulating brain cells with optogenetics.

Researchers discover why Listeria bacterium is so hard to fight

August 27, 2014 11:11 am | News | Comments

The harmful and potentially deadly bacterium Listeria is extremely good at adapting to changes. Research from Denmark uncovers exactly how cunning Listeria is and why it is so hard to fight. The discovery could help develop more efficient ways to combat the bacteria.

Breakthrough antibacterial approach could resolve serious skin infections

August 26, 2014 4:30 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for 80% of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections.

Nanocosmos of cells under the magnifying glass

August 26, 2014 3:56 pm | by Gunnar Bartsch, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg | News | Comments

Scientists in Germany have managed to take a unique look at the membranes of human cells using a new technique called dSTORM: direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy. This is a specific form of high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, and it makes individual saccharified proteins and lipids visible at the molecular level.

Vision problems for older adults can dim life expectancy

August 26, 2014 11:28 am | by Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Older adults losing vision as they age are more likely to face an increased mortality risk, according to new research from Purdue Univ. The researchers analyzed data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation study that tracked the vision health of 2,520 older adults, ages 65 to 84. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute.

Driving brain rhythm makes mice more sensitive to touch

August 26, 2014 8:33 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By striking up the right rhythm in the right brain region at the right time, Brown Univ. neuroscientists report in Nature Neuroscience that they managed to endow mice with greater touch sensitivity than other mice, making hard-to-perceive vibrations suddenly more vivid to them. The findings offer the first direct evidence that “gamma” brainwaves in the cortex affect perception and attention.

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