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Super-Earth unlikely able to transfer life to other planets

March 20, 2012 9:29 am | News | Comments

While scientists believe conditions suitable for life might exist on the so-called "super-Earth" in the Gliese 581 system, Purdue University researchers say it's unlikely to be transferred to other planets within that solar system.

Nerve cells grow on nanocellulose

March 19, 2012 10:28 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg have shown that nanocellulose stimulates the formation of neural networks. This is the first step toward creating a 3D model of the brain.

New tool to reveal structure of proteins

March 19, 2012 9:47 am | News | Comments

A new method to reveal the structure of proteins could help researchers understand biological molecules—both those involved in causing disease and those performing critical functions in healthy cells. The new solid-state NMR method uses paramagnetic tags to help visualize the shape of protein molecules.

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Team discovers how bacteria resist a 'Trojan horse' antibiotic

March 19, 2012 8:41 am | News | Comments

A new study describes how bacteria use a previously unknown means to defeat an antibiotic. The researchers found that the bacteria have modified a common "housekeeping" enzyme in a way that enables the enzyme to recognize and disarm the antibiotic.

Scientists use frogs to battle superbugs

March 19, 2012 5:54 am | News | Comments

In search of ways to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Australian scientists are analyzing synthetic antimicrobial skin secretions of Australian Green-Eyed and Growling Grass frogs. These two species were selected because peptides secreted from their skin form a defense to a broad spectrum of bacteria including Staphylococcus .

A surprising new kind of proton transfer

March 19, 2012 5:04 am | News | Comments

Biologists have longed believed that protons, the bare nuclei of hydrogen atoms, only travel between molecules via hydrogen bonds: No hydrogen bonds, no proton transfer. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists at the Advanced Light Source and their colleagues investigating molecular components of RNA were surprised to find that protons can find ways to transfer even when hydrogen bonds are blocked.

New climate models may change evolutionary theory

March 16, 2012 5:19 am | News | Comments

Climate is believed to be the driving force behind most of humanity’s evolutionary processes, including geographical range change. According to a new paper, new concepts such as “refugia”, or movements forced by harsh Ice Age climates, may explain the emergence of new species, or subspecies.

Brain imaging study finds evidence of basis for caregiving impulse

March 16, 2012 5:12 am | News | Comments

Distinct patterns of activity—which may indicate a predisposition to care for infants—appear in the brains of adults who view an image of an infant face—even when the child is not theirs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Germany, Italy, and Japan.

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Stem cells hint at potential treatment for Huntington's disease

March 15, 2012 10:11 am | News | Comments

Huntington's disease, the debilitating congenital neurological disorder that progressively robs patients of muscle coordination and cognitive ability, is a condition without effective treatment, a slow death sentence. But if researchers can build on new research, a special type of brain cell forged from stem cells could help restore the muscle coordination deficits that cause the uncontrollable spasms characteristic of the disease.

New target for drug addiction treatment

March 15, 2012 9:42 am | News | Comments

In preclinical studies, researchers at SRI International and Astraea Therapeutics have recently evaluated the role of a new drug receptor target that shows promise for the treatment of drug addiction. This potential new drug target belongs to a class of receptors called the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

Study of ribosome evolution challenges RNA world hypothesis

March 15, 2012 5:18 am | News | Comments

In the beginning—of the ribosome, the cell's protein-building workbench—there were ribonucleic acids, the molecules we call RNA that today perform a host of vital functions in cells. And according to a new analysis, even before the ribosome's many working parts were recruited for protein synthesis, proteins also were on the scene and interacting with RNA. This finding challenges a long-held hypothesis about the early evolution of life.

Scientists identify neural activity sequences that help form memory

March 14, 2012 11:40 am | News | Comments

Princeton University researchers have used a novel virtual reality and brain imaging system to detect a form of neural activity underlying how the brain forms short-term memories that are used in making decisions. By following the brain activity of mice as they navigated a virtual reality maze, the researchers found that populations of neurons fire in distinctive sequences when the brain is holding a memory.

Scientists produce eye structures from human blood-derived stem cells

March 14, 2012 10:17 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have made early retina structures containing proliferating neuroretinal progenitor cells using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from human blood. The retina structures showed the capacity to form layers of cells which possess the machinery that could allow them to communicate information.

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LCLS offers new method for examining membrane proteins

March 14, 2012 7:05 am | News | Comments

Experiments at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) have shown a promising new way to collect data on membrane proteins, which serve as gateways in and out of cells. Researchers embedded tiny protein crystals in an oily paste that mimics the supportive environment of the cell membrane, and then hit them with a powerful X-ray laser to determine the protein's structure.

Algae species explored for both biofuel source and pollution control

March 14, 2012 5:57 am | News | Comments

The tiny, plant-like Heterosigma akashiwo is too small to see with the naked eye, but the microscopic algae may pack a big environmental punch. University of Delaware researchers are studying whether the species can neutralize harmful smokestack emissions—and also serve as a source of eco-friendly biofuel.

Breakthrough promises to speed research in cancer epigenetics

March 14, 2012 4:50 am | News | Comments

Cancer is usually attributed to faulty genes, but growing evidence from the field of cancer epigenetics indicates a key role for the gene "silencing" proteins that stably turn genes off inside the cell nucleus. A new study from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine promises to speed research in the field by rapidly identifying the genes that epigenetic proteins can target for silencing.

Biologists find potential drug that speeds cellular recycling

March 13, 2012 9:53 am | News | Comments

A University of Michigan cell biologist and his colleagues have identified a potential drug that speeds up trash removal from the cell's recycling center, the lysosome. The finding suggests a new way to treat rare inherited metabolic disorders and common neurodegenerative diseases.

Youngsters tapped to make computers smarter

March 13, 2012 5:57 am | News | Comments

People often wonder if computers make children smarter. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley are asking the reverse question: Can children make computers smarter? And the answer appears to be 'yes.'

Medical imaging technology helps researchers better understand fish senses

March 12, 2012 10:09 am | News | Comments

University of Rhode Island marine biologist Jacqueline Webb gets an occasional strange look when she brings fish to the Orthopedics Research Laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital. While the facility's microCT scanner is typically used to study bone density and diseases like osteoporosis, it is also providing new insights into the skull structure and sensory systems of fish.

Discovery could reduce chemo's side effects

March 12, 2012 3:17 am | News | Comments

In a prize-winning finding, a team of researchers at Duke University has determined the structure of a key molecule that can carry chemotherapy and anti-viral drugs into cells, which could help to create more effective drugs with fewer effects to healthy tissue.

Brain memory mechanism revealed

March 9, 2012 10:53 am | News | Comments

Despite a century of research, memory storage in the brain has remained mysterious. Evidence points to synaptic connection strengths among brain neurons, but synaptic components are short-lived and yet memories can last lifetimes.Recent has demonstrated a plausible mechanism for encoding synaptic memory in microtubules, major components of the structural cytoskeleton within neurons.

Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem

March 9, 2012 10:38 am | News | Comments

Decades ago, marine scientists made the startling discovery of hydrothermal vents, where hot water surges from the seafloor and life thrives without sunlight. Then they found equally unique, sunless habitats in cold areas where methane rises from seeps on the ocean bottom. Could vents and seeps co-exist in the deep, happily living side-by-side? No one thought so until now.

Meteorites reveal another way to make life’s components

March 9, 2012 10:29 am | News | Comments

A recent study at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center analyzed samples from 14 carbon-rich meteorites with minerals that had experienced temperatures more than 2,000 F. Although the researchers have found amino acids in carbon-rich meteorites before, they weren’t expecting to find them in minerals that had experience enough heat to destroy them.

Origami-inspired paper sensor could test for malaria, HIV

March 8, 2012 11:34 am | News | Comments

Inspired by the paper-folding art of origami, chemists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a 3D paper sensor that may be able to test for diseases such as malaria and HIV for less than 10 cents. Such low-cost. point-of-care sensors could be useful in the developing world.

Images reveal climbing abilities of geckos, spiders

March 8, 2012 10:51 am | News | Comments

Scientists from Lewis and Clark College, working collaboratively with the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, have examined the fascinating climbing skills of geckos and spiders using the ORION helium ion microscope from Carl Zeiss.

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