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A shiny new tool for imaging biomolecules

March 23, 2012 11:51 am | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have developed a technique for lacing artificial membranes with billions of gold nanoantennas that can boost optical signals from a protein tens of thousands of times without the protein ever being touched. This technique could provide a critical tool in the fight against a wide range of health problems including cancer.

Fungal analysis reveals clues for targeted biomass deconstruction

March 23, 2012 11:10 am | News | Comments

Without fungi and microbes to break down dead trees and leaf litter in nature, the forest floor might look like a scene from television's "Hoarders." Massive-scale genome sequencing projects being carried out at the Joint Genome Institute highlight the importance of learning how the cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin that serve as a plant's infrastructure can be broken down by these forest organisms to extract needed nutrients.

'Bed-of-nails' breast implant deters cancer cells

March 23, 2012 8:49 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Brown University have created an implant that appears to deter breast cancer cell regrowth. Made from a common federally approved polymer, the implant is the first to be modified at the nanoscale in a way that causes a reduction in the blood-vessel architecture that breast cancer tumors depend upon, while also attracting healthy breast cells.

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LLNL licenses microbial detection array advance

March 23, 2012 5:35 am | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has licensed its microbial detection array technology to a St. Louis, Mo.-based company, MOgene LC, a supplier of DNA microarrays and instruments. Known formally as the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), the technology could enable professionals to detect within 24 hrs any virus or bacteria that has been sequenced and included among the array's probes.

Research points to possible new route to fight dengue virus

March 23, 2012 4:32 am | News | Comments

Purdue University researchers have identified enzymes and biochemical compounds called lipids that are targeted and modified by the dengue virus during infection, suggesting a potential new approach to control the aggressive mosquito-borne pathogen.

Diatom biosensor could shine light on future nanomaterials

March 23, 2012 4:16 am | News | Comments

Fluorescence is the key characteristic of a new biosensor developed by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The biosensor includes fluorescent proteins embedded in a diatom shell that alter their glow when they are exposed to a particular substance.

Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells

March 22, 2012 1:28 pm | by Cathryn Delude, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | News | Comments

Our memories leave traces that we may conjure up in remembrance, accompanied by time, place, and sensations. These memory “engrams” are more than just conceptual. Recent optogenetics studies have shown that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and simply activating a tiny number of neurons can conjure an entire memory.

Why the world in our head stays still when we move our eyes

March 22, 2012 1:12 pm | News | Comments

With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging scientists in Germany have identified two areas of the brain that compare the movements of the eye with the visual movements cast onto the retina so as to correctly perceive objects in motion. Without this ability the brain would not be able to distinguish what is in motion: the world or us.

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Doctors find clue in quest to predict heart attack

March 22, 2012 7:07 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Most heart attacks happen when fatty deposits in an artery burst open, a blood clot forms to seal the break, and the blood clot blocks blood flow. Unfortunately, today's best tests can't predict when that's about to happen. Now scientists have found a clue that one day may help doctors determine if a heart attack is imminent, in hopes of preventing it.

Findings awaken age-old anesthesia question

March 22, 2012 7:01 am | News | Comments

Why does inhaling anesthetics cause unconsciousness? New insights into this century-and-a-half-old question may spring from research performed at NIST. Scientists from NIST and the National Institutes of Health have found hints that anesthesia may affect the organization of fat molecules, or lipids, in a cell's outer membrane—potentially altering the ability to send signals along nerve cell membranes.

Electricity from trees

March 21, 2012 5:41 am | News | Comments

Plants have long been known as the lungs of the Earth, but a new finding has found they may also play a role in electrifying the atmosphere. Scientists have long-suspected an association between trees and electricity, but researchers from Queensland University of Technology think they may have finally discovered the link.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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