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Researchers calculate global health impacts of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

July 18, 2012 3:50 am | by Max McClure, Stanford University | News | Comments

In the first detailed analysis of the Fukushima nuclear diaster's global health effects, Stanford University researchers estimate the number of deaths and cases of cancer worldwide resulting from the release of radiation.

HIV immunity study could pave way for vaccine development

July 17, 2012 9:33 am | News | Comments

Two Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists are among the team recently funded to explore ways to create the precise immune factors needed for effective vaccines against HIV. The Duke University-led consortium will largely concentrate on inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies that can prevent HIV-1 infection, as well as on generating protective T-cell and innate immune system responses.

Man-made pores mimic important features of natural pores

July 17, 2012 9:18 am | News | Comments

Inspired by nature, an international research team has created synthetic pores that mimic the activity of cellular ion channels, which play a vital role in human health by severely restricting the types of materials allowed to enter cells. The pores the scientists built are permeable to potassium ions and water, but not to other ions such as sodium and lithium ions.

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Frog calls inspire new algorithm for wireless networks

July 17, 2012 7:02 am | News | Comments

Males of the Japanese tree frog have learned not to use their calls at the same time so that the females can distinguish between them. Scientists at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have used this form of calling behavior to create an algorithm that assigns colors to network nodes—an operation that can be applied to developing efficient wireless networks.

Neurons derived from cord blood cells may offer new therapeutic option

July 16, 2012 4:46 pm | News | Comments

For more than 20 years, doctors have been using cells from blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth to treat a variety of illnesses. Now, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have found a new way—using a single protein, known as a transcription factor—to convert cord blood cells into neuron-like cells that may prove valuable for the treatment of a wide range of neurological conditions.

Nanorobot can be programmed to target different diseases

July 16, 2012 4:09 pm | News | Comments

University of Florida researchers have created a tiny particle that can be programmed to shut down the genetic production line that cranks out disease-related proteins. In laboratory tests, these newly created “nanorobots” all but eradicated hepatitis C virus infection.

Human eye inspires clog-free inkjet printer

July 16, 2012 11:29 am | News | Comments

Clogged printer nozzles waste time and money while reducing print quality. University of Missouri engineers recently invented a clog-preventing nozzle cover by mimicking the human eye.

Titan supercomputer hours awarded to collaborative protein project

July 16, 2012 11:01 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have been awarded processing time on a new supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study how proteins fold into their 3D shapes.

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Lab-engineered muscle implants restore function in animals

July 16, 2012 10:01 am | News | Comments

New research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that exercise is a key step in building a muscle-like implant in the lab with the potential to repair muscle damage from injury or disease. In mice, these implants successfully prompt the regeneration and repair of damaged or lost muscle tissue, resulting in significant functional improvement.

3D motion and common cold virus offers hope for improved drugs

July 16, 2012 6:28 am | News | Comments

University of Melbourne researchers are now simulating in 3D the motion of the complete human rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of the common cold, on Australia's fastest supercomputer, paving the way for new drug development.

Biophysicists model behavior of protein critical to cell motion

July 16, 2012 4:00 am | News | Comments

Physicists at Lehigh University have created a mathematical model that could benefit researchers who study cell motion, including cancerous cell motion, tissue healing processes, and human embryonic development. Their model consists of partial-differential equations that describe the behavior of actin filaments at the cell's leading edge.

Cancer delivery technique may solve combined drug therapy puzzle

July 15, 2012 2:52 pm | News | Comments

Cancers are notorious for secreting chemicals that confuse the immune system and thwart biological defenses. Some treatments try to neutralize the cancer's chemical arsenal and boost immune response but are rarely successful. Researchers at Yale University have recently developed a system to simultaneously deliver both an immune-system booster and a chemical to counter the cancer's secretions.

Super-resolution microscopy shows detail of biofilm structure

July 12, 2012 10:35 am | News | Comments

A clever new imaging technique discovered at the University of California, Berkeley, reveals a possible plan of attack for many bacterial diseases that form biofilms that make them resistant to antibiotics. By devising a new fluorescent labeling strategy and employing super-resolution light microscopy, the researchers were able to examine the structure of bacterial biofilms that make these infections so tenacious.

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Transcription factor that governs heart growth is found

July 12, 2012 8:14 am | News | Comments

This development of the heart in the embryo is a complex, error-prone process that often causes congenital heart defects. Scientists from in Germany have now identified a key molecule that plays a central role in regulating the function of stem cells in the heart. It could be a path to prevention of defects in the future, or even regeneration of damaged hearts.

New strategy advances stem cell culture techniques

July 12, 2012 5:58 am | News | Comments

Given their enormous potential in future treatments against disease, the study and growth of stem cells in the laboratory is widespread and critical. But growing the cells in culture offers numerous challenges. However, a group of researchers has now developed a nanoparticle-based system to deliver growth factors to stem cells in culture.

Giving ancient life another chance to evolve

July 11, 2012 5:34 am | News | Comments

It's a project 500 million years in the making. Only this time, instead of playing on a movie screen in Jurassic Park, it's happening in a laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old-gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli bacteria.

Searching genomic data faster

July 10, 2012 12:44 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biologists' capacity for generating genomic data is increasing more rapidly than computer power. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University researchers have developed a new algorithm that reduces the time it takes to find a particular gene sequence in a database of genomes.

New biofuel process improves energy recovery

July 10, 2012 10:04 am | News | Comments

A new biofuel production process created by Michigan State University researchers produces energy more than 20 times higher than existing methods. The results showcase a novel way to use microbes to produce biofuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes.

Why powerlines confuse the internal compass

July 10, 2012 6:38 am | News | Comments

Migratory birds and fish use the Earth’s magnetic field to find their way. Researchers have recently identified cells with internal compass needles for the perception of the field—and can explain why high-tension cables perturb the magnetic orientation.

Nutrient mixture improves memory in patients with early Alzheimer's

July 10, 2012 3:45 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A clinical trial of an Alzheimer's disease treatment developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that the nutrient cocktail can improve memory in patients with early Alzheimer's. The results confirm and expand the findings of an earlier trial of the nutritional supplement, which is designed to promote new connections between brain cells.

Diagnostic technique uses immune cell DNA

July 9, 2012 8:56 am | by David Orenstein, Brown University | News | Comments

By looking at signature chemical differences in the DNA of various immune cells called leukocytes, scientists have developed a way to determine their relative abundance in blood samples. The relative abundance turns out to correlate with specific cancers and other diseases, making the technique potentially valuable not only for research, but also for diagnostics and treatment monitoring.

New studies nix report of arsenic-loving bacteria

July 9, 2012 8:42 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

It was a provocative finding: strange bacteria in a California lake that thrived on something completely unexpected—arsenic. What it suggested is that life, a very different kind of life, could possibly exist on some other planet. On Sunday, that same journal, Science , released two papers that rip apart the original research.

Lipid helps cells find their way by keeping their 'antennae' up

July 9, 2012 8:02 am | News | Comments

A lipid that helps lotion soften the skin also helps cells find and stay in the right location in the body by ensuring they keep their "antennae" up, scientists report. Each cell has an antenna, or cilium, that senses the environment then determines where to go and what to do when it arrives.

Scientists discover trigger for immense Atlantic plankton bloom

July 9, 2012 6:58 am | News | Comments

In what's known as the North Atlantic Bloom, an immense number of phytoplankton burst into color, first "greening" then "whitening" the sea as one species follows another. According to recent research, whirlpools, or eddies, swirl across the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean,  sustaining phytoplankton and acting as a biological pump. An important question is how this might change in the future.

What happens when we sunburn

July 9, 2012 6:53 am | News | Comments

According to a report from research on the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the biological mechanism of sunburn—the reddish, painful, protective immune response from UV radiation—is a consequence of RNA damage to skin cells. The findings open the way to perhaps eventually blocking the inflammatory process, the scientists said, and have implications for a range of medical conditions and treatments.

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