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Previous studies on toxic effects of BPA couldn’t be reproduced

January 2, 2013 1:36 pm | News | Comments

Following a three-year study using more than 2,800 mice, a University of Missouri researcher was not able to replicate a series of previous studies by another research group investigating the controversial chemical BPA. The MU study is not claiming that BPA is safe, but that the previous series of studies are not reproducible.

Electric stimulation of brain releases opiate-like painkiller

January 2, 2013 11:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers used electricity on certain regions in the brain of a patient with chronic, severe facial pain to release an opiate-like substance that's considered one of the body's most powerful painkillers. The findings expand on previous work done at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and the City University of New York where researchers delivered electricity through sensors on the skulls of chronic migraine patients, and found a decrease in the intensity and pain of their headache attacks.

New study exposes living cells to synthetic protein

December 28, 2012 7:51 am | News | Comments

One approach to understanding components in living organisms is to attempt to create them artificially, using principles of chemistry, engineering, and genetics. A suite of powerful techniques—referred to as synthetic biology—have been used to produce self-replicating molecules, artificial pathways in living systems, and organisms bearing synthetic genomes. In a new twist, researchers have fabricated an artificial protein in the laboratory and examined the surprising ways living cells respond to it.

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Why some grasses got better photosynthesis

December 26, 2012 1:20 pm | News | Comments

Two groups—clades—of grasses that once had a common ancestry diverged. The PACMAD clade was predisposed to evolve a more efficient "C4" means of photosynthesis than grasses in the BEP clade. In a new study, a Brown University-led team pinpoints the anatomical differences between the clades that led to the PACMAD's tendency toward C4.

Improving the accuracy of cancer diagnoses

December 26, 2012 8:41 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Tiny calcium deposits can be a telltale sign of breast cancer. However, in the majority of cases these microcalcifications signal a benign condition. A new diagnostic procedure developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Case Western Reserve University could help doctors more accurately distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous cases.

Discovery: Dragonflies have human-like “selective attention”

December 21, 2012 1:15 pm | News | Comments

In a discovery that may prove important for cognitive science, our understanding of nature and applications for robot vision, researchers in Australia have found evidence that the dragonfly is capable of higher-level thought processes when hunting its prey. The finding is the first that show an invertebrate animal has brain cells for selective attention, which has so far only been demonstrated in primates.

Gift misgivings? Trust your gut

December 20, 2012 8:06 pm | News | Comments

The clock is ticking and you still haven't decided what to get that special someone in your life for the holidays. When it comes to those last-minute gift-buying decisions for family and close friends, intuition may be the best way to think your way through to that perfect gift. At least, that’s according to new research from Boston College.

New approach destroys disease-associated RNAs in cells

December 20, 2012 8:01 pm | News | Comments

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have developed a way to alter the function of RNA in living cells by designing molecules that recognize and disable RNA targets. As a proof of principle, the team designed a molecule that disabled the RNA causing myotonic dystrophy. This small molecule is cell-permeable, offering benefits over traditional methods of targeting RNAs for degradation.

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Scientists construct first map of how the brain organizes everything we see

December 20, 2012 11:40 am | by Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings.

Research leads to detection of smallest virus particle

December 19, 2012 11:50 am | News | Comments

A research team has recently made a breakthrough with enormous potential significance for the treatment of serious diseases. Their work has made it possible, for the first time, to detect the smallest virus particle. Since even one viral particle can represent a deadly threat, the research likely will make an important contribution to ongoing research on early detection of diseases such as AIDS and cancer.

Spread of cancer cells may be slowed by targeting of protein

December 18, 2012 11:39 am | News | Comments

The spread of cancer cells may be slowed by targeting the protein km23-1, according to researchers at Penn State University College of Medicine. A motor protein that transports cargo within the cell, km23-1 is also involved in the movement or migration of cells. Migration is necessary for cancer to spread, so understanding this cell movement is important for development of better cancer treatments.

How to get fossil fuels from ice cream, soap

December 17, 2012 3:34 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of Manchester have identified a biocatalyst which could produce chemicals found in ice cream and household items such as soap and shampoo—possibly leading to the long-term replacement of chemicals derived from fossil fuels.

Toward a new model of the cell

December 17, 2012 9:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues have proposed a new method that creates an ontology, or a specification of all the major players in the cell and the relationships between them. This computational model of the cell is made from large networks of gene and protein interactions, and is created automatically from large datasets, helping researchers see potentially new biological components.

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Controlled Success

December 14, 2012 11:42 am | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

From an early age, the 2012 Scientist of the Year knew that his knowledge of chemistry could make a difference in medicine. He’s still exploring just how much impact that can be.

Dark Clouds, But Bright Outlook for R&D

December 14, 2012 11:27 am | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

Changes in the R&D environment are driving research managers to look at different ways to support and grow their organizations.

Team solves mystery associated with DNA repair

December 13, 2012 5:06 pm | by Diana Yates, University of Illinois | News | Comments

Every time a human or bacterial cell divides, specialized proteins help copy DNA strands, using the originals as templates. Whenever these proteins encounter a break, they repair proteins to step in and bridge the gap. In a new study, researchers report they have finally identified how one important repair protein, RecA, does it job.

Protein strongest just before death

December 12, 2012 4:35 pm | News | Comments

Retinoblastoma protein are tumor suppressors that can be dysfunctional in several major types of cancers. Researchers at Michigan State University have discovered that these proteins actually do their best work with one foot in the grave. Most proteins, like living things, become weaker toward the end of their lifecycle. Retinoblastoma proteins instead become stronger.

More than 3,000 epigenetic switches control daily liver cycles

December 12, 2012 11:11 am | News | Comments

Circadian rhythms affect our bodies not just on a global scale, but at the level of individual organs, and even genes. Scientists at the Salk Institute have recently determined the specific genetic switches that sync liver activity to the circadian cycle. Their finding gives further insight into the mechanisms behind health-threatening conditions such as high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

Engineers pinpoint origin of bone fractures

December 12, 2012 10:57 am | News | Comments

A new study from engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows, for the first time, how the little-understood protein osteocalcin—found in vegetables like broccoli and spinach—plays a significant role in the strength of our bones. The findings could lead to new strategies and therapeutics for fighting osteoporosis and lowering the risk of bone fracture.

Mussel goo inspires blood vessel glue

December 12, 2012 8:08 am | News | Comments

A University of British Columbia researcher has helped create a gel—based on the mussel's knack for clinging to rocks, piers, and boat hulls-that can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels and stay put, forming a protective barrier with potentially life-saving implications.

Bringing fossils to life

December 10, 2012 9:57 am | News | Comments

A new way to learn about dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures is being pioneered by researchers at the University of Bristol. CT scanning and 3D printing allow paleontologists to see fossils in ways they never could before, to study delicate bones and other ancient remains in great detail without destroying the precious specimens themselves. Now, University of Bristol researchers aim to bring such "virtual paleontology" to the wider public.

Chemical link for hearing, balance found

December 7, 2012 11:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers have mapped the precise 3D atomic structure of a thin protein filament critical for cells in the inner ear and calculated the force necessary to pull it apart. Their findings open avenues for research in fields related to noise-induced hearing loss and certain genetic diseases.

Tapping citizen-scientists for a novel gut check

December 7, 2012 11:22 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

For a modest fee and a stool sample, the truly curious can join one or two unusual new citizen-science projects that represent attempts to find out more about our microbiomes—the colonies of microbes that make up a large part of our bodies’ functions, especially the digestive. Researchers with uBiome and the American Gut Project hope to enroll thousands in the projects.

Gene-altered mosquitoes could be used vs. dengue

December 6, 2012 9:26 am | by Jennifer Kay, Associated Press | News | Comments

Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West. If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first such experiment in the U.S. Some residents, however, are worried about the risks.

Fast-growing fish may never wind up on your plate

December 5, 2012 10:45 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

After weathering concerns about everything from the safety of humans eating the salmon to their impact on the environment, Aquabounty was in a position to become the world's first company to sell fish whose DNA has been altered to speed up growth. But after positive feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010, the agency still has not approved the fish and the company could soon run out of money.

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