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New hypothesis formulated to explain bacteria’s increasing toughness

March 7, 2013 10:38 am | News | Comments

A researcher has recently attempted to answer to an enigma in medical science: How are bacteria becoming more resistant to antibiotics? According to his theory, bacteria that are non-resistant to antibiotics acquire this resistance accidentally. This occurs because they take up the DNA of other bacteria that are resistant because of their exposure to stress.

Circuitry of cells involved in immunity, autoimmune diseases exposed

March 7, 2013 10:09 am | by Haley Bridger, Broad Communications | News | Comments

New work from the Broad Institute and partnering organizations has expanded the understanding of how one type of immune cell—known as a T helper 17 or Th17 cell—develops, and how its growth influences the development of immune responses. By figuring out how these cells are “wired,” the researchers make a surprising connection between autoimmunity and salt consumption.

Flip of a single molecular switch makes an old brain young

March 6, 2013 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have long known that the young and old brains are very different. Adolescent brains are more malleable or plastic. The flip of a single molecular switch helps create the mature neuronal connections that allow the brain to bridge the gap between adolescent impressionability and adult stability. Now Yale School of Medicine researchers have reversed the process, recreating a youthful brain that facilitated both learning and healing in the adult mouse.

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Evidence found that comets could have seeded life on Earth

March 6, 2013 2:08 pm | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Chemists have recently shown that conditions in space are capable of creating complex dipeptides—linked pairs of amino acids—that are essential building blocks shared by all living things. The discovery opens the door to the possibility that these molecules were brought to Earth aboard a comet or possibly meteorites, catalyzing the formation of proteins (polypeptides), enzymes and even more complex molecules, such as sugars, that are necessary for life.

New tool better estimates pandemic threats

March 6, 2013 11:12 am | News | Comments

A simple new method better assesses the risks posed by emerging zoonotic viruses Researchers show that the new tool can produce transmissibility estimates for swine flu, allowing researchers to better evaluate the possible pandemic threat posed by this virus. ntil now, estimates of transmissibility were derived from detailed outbreak investigations, which are resource intensive and subject to selection bias.

Biochemists gain insight into cell division

March 5, 2013 4:34 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, including assistant professor Peter Chien, recently gained new insight into how protein synthesis and degradation help to regulate the delicate ballet of cell division. In particular, they reveal how two proteins shelter each other in “mutually assured cleanup” to insure that division goes smoothly and safely.

Study: Mental picture of others can be seen using fMRI

March 5, 2013 2:16 pm | News | Comments

According to a study by Cornell University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues, it is possible to tell who a person is thinking about by analyzing images of his or her brain. Our mental models of people produce unique patterns of brain activation, which can be detected using advanced imaging techniques such as functionalized magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

“True grit” erodes assumptions about evolution

March 5, 2013 1:13 pm | by Sandra Hines, University of Washington | News | Comments

New research led by the University of Washington challenges the 140-year-old assumption that finding fossilized remains of prehistoric animals with such teeth meant the animals were living in grasslands and savannas. Instead it appears certain South American mammals evolved the teeth in response to the gritty dust and volcanic ash they encountered while feeding in an ancient tropical forest.

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Traceable nanoparticles may be the next weapon in cancer treatment

March 5, 2013 8:58 am | by Karin Söderlund Leifler and Peter Larsson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Therapeutic and diagnostic in function, so-called “theranostic” particles have been developed by a team in Sweden. These small particles can be loaded with medicine and could be a future weapon for cancer treatment. Because the particles can be seen in magnetic resonance images, they are traceable.

International consortium builds “Google Map” of human metabolism

March 4, 2013 1:28 pm | News | Comments

Building on earlier pioneering work by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, an international consortium of university researchers has produced the most comprehensive virtual reconstruction of human metabolism to date. Scientists could use the model, known as Recon 2, to identify causes of and new treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes and even psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.

How do bacteria clog medical devices? Very quickly.

March 1, 2013 2:46 pm | News | Comments

A new study has exam­ined how bac­te­ria clog med­ical devices, and the result isn’t pretty. The microbes join to cre­ate slimey rib­bons that tan­gle and trap other pass­ing bac­te­ria, cre­at­ing a full block­age in a star­tlingly short period of time. The find­ing could help shape strate­gies for pre­vent­ing clog­ging of devices such as stents and water fil­ters

“Defective” virus plays surprising role in spread of disease

March 1, 2013 10:31 am | News | Comments

Defective viruses have genetic mutations or deletions that eliminate their essential viral functions. Thought for decades to be essentially garbage unrelated to the transmission of normal viruses, new research shows that they now appear able to play an important role in the spread of disease.

After the human genome project: The human microbiome project

February 28, 2013 12:51 pm | News | Comments

Communities of microbes within our bodies, called the "microbiome," are considered to be so crucial to our health that some consider it to be a complex "second genome." In a recently published report, scientists take an important step toward designing a uniform protocol for microbiome research that ensures proper controls and considerations for variations among people. By doing this, future researchers should be able to better assess how what we ingest, whether drugs or food, affects our bodies.

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Researchers marvel at world's deepest sea vents

February 27, 2013 10:03 pm | by David McFadden, Associated Press | News | Comments

Researchers steering a remote-controlled submarine around the world's deepest known hydrothermal vents have collected numerous samples from depths reaching more than 3 miles below the sea's surface between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. They believe that laboratory analysis in the coming months will reveal some new life forms that have evolved in the pitch-black vent areas of the Cayman Trough, where mineral-rich fluid gushes from volcanic chimneys.

At more colleges, classes on genetics get personal

February 27, 2013 7:44 am | by Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press | News | Comments

The University of Iowa recently offered an honors seminar on personal genetics in which students had the option of sending saliva samples so a testing company could use DNA to unlock some of their most personal health and family secrets. The class, taught at Iowa for the first time, is part of a growing movement in higher education to tackle the rapidly advancing field of personal genetics, which is revolutionizing medicine and raising difficult ethical and privacy questions.

Automating Challenges Associated with Proteomics Workflows

February 26, 2013 4:16 pm | by Brian Field, Life Science Product Manager, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Columbia, Md. | Articles | Comments

Sample preparation workflows for mass spectrometric analysis that involve proteolysis are often labor intensive, time consuming, and user dependent. Typical proteomic workflows require enzymatic digestion, solid phase extraction, drying, and resuspension before the reversed phase liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis.

Beyond the Genome

February 26, 2013 4:06 pm | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

Systems biology holds tremendous promise for the future of science and medicine, but some have criticized the field's lack of practical solutions. Experts counsel patience, saying progress has been strong and is accelerating.

Sweet news for stem cell's "Holy Grail"

February 26, 2013 10:43 am | News | Comments

Stem cells have the unique ability to turn into any type of human cell, opening up all sorts of therapeutic possibilities for some of the world's incurable diseases and conditions. The problem facing scientists is how to encourage stem cells to turn into the particular type of cell required to treat a specific disease. But researchers at the University of Manchester have developed a web-like scaffold, coated with long-sugar molecules, that enhances stem cell cultures to do just this.

An atlas of the human heart is drawn using statistics

February 26, 2013 10:17 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Pompeu Fabra University (Spain) have created a high resolution atlas of the heart with 3D images taken from 138 people. The study demonstrates that an average image of an organ along with its variations can be obtained for the purposes of comparing individual cases and differentiating healthy forms from pathologies.

“Fat worms” inch scientists toward better biofuel production

February 26, 2013 10:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Michigan State University have used use an algae gene involved in oil production to engineer a plant that stores lipids or vegetable oil in its leaves—an uncommon occurrence for most plants. To confirm that the improved plants were more nutritious and contained more energy, the research team fed them to caterpillar larvae. The larvae that were fed oily leaves from the enhanced plants gained more weight than worms that ate regular leaves.

Researchers identify forerunners of inner-ear cells that enable hearing

February 26, 2013 9:47 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a group of progenitor cells in the inner ear that can become the sensory hair cells and adjacent supporting cells that enable hearing. Studying these progenitor cells could someday lead to discoveries that help millions of Americans suffering from hearing loss due to damaged or impaired sensory hair cells.

Lessons from cockroaches could inform robotics

February 22, 2013 1:12 pm | News | Comments

Running cockroaches start to recover from being shoved sideways before their dawdling nervous system kicks in to tell their legs what to do, researchers have found. These new insights on how biological systems stabilize could one day help engineers design steadier robots and improve doctors' understanding of human gait abnormalities.

Has evolution given humans unique brain structures?

February 22, 2013 11:16 am | News | Comments

Our ancestors evolutionarily split from those of rhesus monkeys about 25 million years ago. Since then, brain areas have been added, have disappeared, or have changed in function. This raises the question: Has evolution given humans unique brain structures? Previous research has been inconclusive, but by combining different research methods, researchers in The Netherlands now say they have the first piece of evidence that could prove that humans have unique cortical brain networks.

Protein “passport” helps nanoparticles navigate immune system

February 22, 2013 9:10 am | News | Comments

Macrophages—literally, “big eaters”—are a big part of the body’s immune system response. These cells find and engulf invaders, or form a wall around the foreign object. Unfortunately, macrophages also eat helpful foreigners, including nanoparticles. In an effort to clear this long-standing hurdle, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a “passport” that could be attached to therapeutic particles and devices, tricking macrophages into leaving them alone.

Life's tiniest architects pinpointed

February 21, 2013 1:13 pm | News | Comments

If a genome is the blueprint for life, then the chief architects are tiny slices of genetic material that orchestrate how we are assembled and function, Yale University School of Medicine researchers report. The study pinpoints the molecular regulators of epigenetics—the process by which unchanging genes along our DNA are switched on and off at precisely right time and place.

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