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Computer model predicts drug side effects

June 11, 2012 10:19 am | News | Comments

A new set of computer models has successfully predicted negative side effects in hundreds of current drugs, based on the similarity between their chemical structures and those molecules known to cause side effects, according to a paper.

Fat stem cells grow bones faster and better

June 11, 2012 7:00 am | News | Comments

Scientists in California have purified a subset of stem cells found in fat tissue and made from them bone that was formed faster and was of higher quality than bone grown using traditional methods. The discovery may one day eliminate the need for painful bone grafts that use material taken from the patient during invasive procedures.

A SMART(er) way to track influenza

June 11, 2012 4:36 am | News | Comments

Brown University researchers have created a reliable and fast flu-detection test that can be carried in a first-aid kit. The novel prototype device isolates influenza RNA using a combination of magnetics and microfluidics, then amplifies and detects probes bound to the RNA. The technology could lead to real-time tracking of influenza.

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Extreme microbes found on South American volcanoes

June 10, 2012 12:11 pm | News | Comments

Life gets little encouragement on the incredibly dry volcanic slopes of the Atacama region, where sparse snow is quickly sublimated and nitrogen is so scant it is below detection limits. Yet, researchers recently found life here, including bacteria, fungi, and archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.

New imaging technique explains why concussions affect people differently

June 8, 2012 6:03 am | News | Comments

Using a recently developed MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging, along with a new analytical software tool designed specifically for examining microstructures, researchers at Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have found that concussion victims have unique spatial patterns of brain abnormalities that change over time.

Armored caterpillar could inspire new body armor

June 8, 2012 4:41 am | News | Comments

Military body armor and vehicle and aircraft frames could be transformed by incorporating the unique structure of the club-like arm of a crustacean that looks like an armored caterpillar, according to findings by a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering.

Researchers develop new graphene-based MRI contrast agent

June 8, 2012 4:00 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers has developed a new, highly efficacious, potentially safer, and more cost-effective nanoparticle-based magnetic resonance imaging contrast agent for improved disease diagnosis and detection.

How infectious diseases are transmitted on aircraft

June 7, 2012 6:37 am | News | Comments

A new study is expected to provide the first detailed information on how infectious diseases may be transmitted aboard commercial airliners. Sponsored by aircraft manufacturer Boeing, the research will document patterns of passenger movement inside aircraft cabins and inventory the microbes present in cabin air and on surfaces such as tray tables and lavatory fixtures.

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How plants make cocaine

June 7, 2012 5:37 am | News | Comments

Cocaine is one of the most commonly used (and abused) plant-derived drugs in the world, but we have almost no modern information on how plants produce this complex nitrogen-containing compound. The recent discovery of the first enzyme in the pathway sheds new light on the evolution of cocaine alkaloids.

Zeroing in on the best shape for cancer-fighting nanoparticles

June 6, 2012 12:40 pm | News | Comments

As the field of nanomedicine matures, an emerging point of contention has been what shape nanoparticles should be to deliver their drug or DNA payloads most effectively. A pair of new papers by scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI) and six other institutions suggests these microscopic workhorses ought to be disc-shaped, not spherical or rod-shaped, when targeting cancers at or near blood vessels.

Cell contents may be key to controlling toxicity of Huntington's protein

June 6, 2012 10:01 am | News | Comments

New research into the cell-damaging effects of Huntington's disease suggests a new approach for identifying possible therapeutic targets for treating the nerve-destroying disorder. The study, led by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers, suggests that the toxic effects of the huntingtin protein on cells may not be driven exclusively by the length of the protein's expansion, but also by which other proteins are present in the cell.

University professors lead voluntary code of ethics effort for journals

June 6, 2012 9:44 am | News | Comments

Professors from Purdue University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are bringing editors of academic journals together to reaffirm their commitment to research integrity.

Scientists use X-ray laser to probe engines of photosynthesis

June 6, 2012 7:10 am | News | Comments

An international research team led by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has used a powerful X-ray laser to shine new light on a tiny cluster of molecules that is integral to an important stage of photosynthesis known as Photosystem II.

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Experiment lets spine-injured rats walk, climb

June 6, 2012 6:37 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Many scientists are working on treatments to help people with spinal cord injuries walk. Now there's a striking new demonstration of how one approach might work: Spinal nerve stimulation helped rats in a Swiss lab overcome paralysis to walk and climb stairs.

Protein knots gain new evolutionary significance

June 5, 2012 6:03 am | News | Comments

A new study suggests that protein knots, a structure whose formation remains a mystery, may have specific functional advantages that depend on the nature of the protein's architecture. What the researchers found was that protein knots and slipknots, instead of being discarded through the process of evolution, are often strongly conserved.

Researchers learn how populations collapse

June 5, 2012 5:47 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the early 1990s, overfishing led to the collapse of one of the most bountiful cod fisheries in the world, off the coast of Newfoundland. Twenty years later, the cod population still has not recovered. To explain this kind of collapse, ecologists have long theorized that populations suffering a decline in environmental conditions appear stable until they reach a tipping point where the population plummets. Recovery from such collapses is nearly impossible. Now a study has offered the first experimental validation of this theory.

Scientists identify mechanism for regulating plant oil production

June 5, 2012 5:00 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified key elements in the biochemical mechanism plants use to limit the production of fatty acids. The results suggest ways scientists might target those biochemical pathways to increase the production of plant oils as a renewable resource for biofuels and industrial processes.

Engineers discover neural rhythms drive physical movement

June 4, 2012 11:00 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

In a significant departure from earlier models, neural engineers and neuroscientists working at Stanford University have developed a new model for the brain activity underlying arm movements. Motor neurons do not represent external-world parameters as previously thought, but rather send a few basic rhythmic patterns down the spin to drive movement.

Protein pathways provide clues in leukemia research

June 4, 2012 9:50 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Rice University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have successfully profiled protein pathways found to be distinctive to leukemia patients with particular variants of the disease. Their research involved the creation of a new computational approach to identifying complex networks in protein signaling.

A search engine for social networks based on ants

June 4, 2012 9:05 am | News | Comments

Research at Carlos III University in Madrid is developing an algorithm, based on ants' behavior when they are searching for food, which accelerates the search for relationships among elements that are present in social networks.

Building molecular 'cages' to fight disease

June 4, 2012 6:35 am | News | Comments

University of California, Los Angeles biochemists have designed specialized proteins that assemble themselves to form tiny molecular cages hundreds of times smaller than a single cell. The creation of these miniature structures may be the first step toward developing new methods of drug delivery or even designing artificial vaccines.

Researchers achieve RNA interference in a lighter package

June 4, 2012 3:36 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Using a technique known as "nucleic acid origami," chemical engineers have built tiny particles made out of DNA and RNA that can deliver snippets of RNA directly to tumors, turning off genes expressed in cancer cells.

Free-electron lasers reveal detailed architecture of proteins

June 4, 2012 3:33 am | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has recently analyzed protein crystals using short pulses of X-ray light from the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The facility’s ultrashort flashes of X-radiation allow atomic structures of macromolecules to be obtained even from tiny protein crystals

Optical tweezers help researchers uncover mechanics in cellular communication

June 1, 2012 8:42 am | News | Comments

By using a laser microbeam technology called optical tweezers, University of California, Irvine and University of California, Los Angeles researchers have uncovered fundamental properties of a key molecular signaling system involved with development, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Scientists hit major milestone in whole-brain circuit mapping project

June 1, 2012 8:12 am | News | Comments

Neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this week publicly releasing the first installment out of 500 TB of data so far collected in their groundbreaking project to construct the first whole-brain wiring diagram of a vertebrate brain, that of the mouse.

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