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Blood-cleansing biospleen device developed for sepsis therapy

September 15, 2014 8:21 am | by Kristen Kusek, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Things can go downhill fast when a patient has sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which bacteria or fungi multiply in a patient's blood—often too fast for antibiotics to help. A new device inspired by the human spleen and developed by a team at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering may radically transform the way doctors treat sepsis.

Slimy fish and the origins of brain development

September 15, 2014 8:09 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Lamprey—slimy, eel-like parasitic fish with tooth-riddled, jawless sucking mouths—are rather disgusting to look at, but thanks to their important position on the vertebrate family tree, they can offer important insights about the evolutionary history of our own brain development, a recent study suggests.

Evolutionary biology key to tackling diverse global problems

September 12, 2014 10:14 am | by Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Evolutionary biology techniques can and must be used to help solve global challenges in agriculture, medicine and environmental sciences, advises a nine-member global team led by an evolutionary ecologist from Univ. of California, Davis.

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New defense mechanism against viruses discovered

September 11, 2014 1:18 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered that a known quality control mechanism in human, animal and plant cells is active against viruses. They think this new form of a so-called “innate immune defense” might represent one of the oldest defense mechanisms against viruses in evolutionary history.

Findings suggest how swimming cells form biofilms on surfaces

September 11, 2014 1:07 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Bacteria secrete a mucus-like “extracellular polymeric substance” that forms biofilms, allowing bacterial colonies to thrive on surfaces. Costs associated with biofilms affecting medical devices and industrial equipment amount to billions of dollars annually. New research reveals specifics about interactions that induce bacteria to swim close to surfaces and attach to biofilms. This may point to future approaches for fighting biofilms.

Researchers create world’s largest DNA origami

September 11, 2014 9:35 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ., Duke Univ. and the Univ. of Copenhagen have created the world’s largest DNA origami, which are nanoscale constructions with applications ranging from biomedical research to nanoelectronics. DNA origami are self-assembling biochemical structures that are made up of two types of DNA.

Chemists discover way nose perceives common class of odors

September 10, 2014 6:10 pm | News | Comments

Biologists claim that humans can perceive and distinguish a trillion different odors, but little is known about the underlying chemical processes involved. Biochemists at The City College of New York have found an unexpected chemical strategy employed by the mammalian nose to detect chemicals known as aldehydes.

Brain structure could predict risky behavior

September 10, 2014 10:31 am | by Karen N. Peart, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Some people avoid risks at all costs, while others will put their wealth, health and safety at risk without a thought. Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found that the volume of the parietal cortex in the brain could predict where people fall on the risk-taking spectrum.

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Cloud computing revolution applies to evolution

September 10, 2014 7:30 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A $1.1 million National Science Foundation grant to two Rice Univ. computer science groups will allow them to build cloud computing tools to help analyze evolutionary patterns. With the three-year grant, Christopher Jermaine and Luay Nakhleh, both associate professors of computer science, will develop parallel processing tools that track the evolution of genes and genomes across species.

Fingerprinting cell metabolism points toward study of obesity, diabetes

September 9, 2014 7:38 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to use a new imaging platform to map lipid metabolism in living cells, discovering specifically where cholesterol is stored and pointing toward further studies in obesity, diabetes and longevity. The imaging approach makes it possible to not only quantify the storage of cholesterol, but also the "desaturation" and oxidation of lipids, which may reduce the ability of cells to use insulin.

Scientists apply biomedical technique to reveal changes in body of the ocean

September 9, 2014 7:33 am | News | Comments

For decades, doctors have developed methods to diagnose how different types of cells and systems in the body are functioning. Now scientists have adapted an emerging biomedical technique to study the vast body of the ocean. In recent work they have demonstrated that they can identify and measure proteins in the ocean, revealing how single-celled marine organisms and ocean ecosystems operate.

Physicists explore biomimetic clocks

September 8, 2014 1:37 pm | News | Comments

An international team has engineered and studied “active vesicles." These purely synthetic, molecularly thin sacs are capable of transforming energy, injected at the microscopic level, into organized, self-sustained motion.The ability to create spontaneous motion and stable oscillations is a hallmark of living systems and reproducing and understanding this behavior remains a significant challenge for researchers.

Parkinson's, cancer findings earn medical prizes

September 8, 2014 9:25 am | by Malcolm Ritter - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Key discoveries about breast cancer, Parkinson's disease and the body's handling of defective proteins have earned prestigious medical awards for five scientists. The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced the winners Monday. Each prize includes a $250,000 honorarium. The awards will be presented Sept. 19 in New York.

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Breath temperature test could identify lung cancer

September 8, 2014 8:43 am | News | Comments

New research in Europe suggests that testing the temperature of breath could be a simple and noninvasive method to either confirm or reject the presence of lung cancer. Many research teams have been looking at the possibility of using breath tests for a number of cancers but this is the first study looking at breath temperature as a marker in lung cancer.

Platelet-like particles augment natural blood clotting for treating trauma

September 8, 2014 8:23 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A new class of synthetic platelet-like particles could augment natural blood clotting for the emergency treatment of traumatic injuries. The clotting particles, which are based on soft and deformable hydrogel materials, are triggered by the same factor that initiates the body’s own clotting processes.

Shining light on brain circuits to study learning, memory

September 8, 2014 8:04 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley neuroscientists plan to use light to tweak the transmission of signals in the brain to learn more about how the mouse brain and presumably the human brain process information. Last month, the promising optogenetics research project was awarded one of 36 new $300,000, two-year grants from the National Science Foundation in support of the BRAIN Initiative.

Banked blood grows stiffer with age, study finds

September 5, 2014 12:13 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

It may look like fresh blood and flow like fresh blood, but the longer blood is stored, the less it can carry oxygen into the tiny microcapillaries of the body. Using advanced optical techniques, researchers measured the stiffness of the membrane surrounding red blood cells over time. They found that, even though the cells retain their shape and hemoglobin content, the membranes get stiffer, steadily decreasing the cells’ functionality.

Sequencing of fish reveals diverse molecular mechanisms underlying evolution

September 5, 2014 9:49 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers have sequenced the genomes and transcriptomes of five species of African cichlid fishes and uncovered a variety of features that enabled the fishes to thrive in new habitats and ecological niches within the Great Lakes of East Africa. The study helps explain the genetic basis for the incredible diversity among cichlid fishes and provides new information about vertebrate evolution.

2-D or 3-D? That is the question

September 5, 2014 8:04 am | News | Comments

The increased visual realism of 3-D films is believed to offer viewers a more vivid and lifelike experience than 2-D because it more closely approximates real life. However, psychology researchers at the Univ. of Utah, among those who use film clips routinely in the laboratory to study patients’ emotional conditions, have found that there is no significant difference between the two formats.

Should scientists handle retractions differently?

September 5, 2014 7:33 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It’s one of the highest-profile cases of scientific fraud in memory: In 2005, South Korean researcher Woo-Suk Hwang and colleagues made international news by claiming that they had produced embryonic stem cells from a cloned human embryo using nuclear transfer. But within a year, the work had been debunked, soon followed by findings of fraud. South Korea put a moratorium on stem cell research funding.

Researchers turn to plants to help treat hemophilia

September 4, 2014 1:02 pm | by April Frawley Birdwell, Univ. of Florida | News | Comments

Up to 30% of people with the most common form of hemophilia develop antibodies that attack lifesaving protein injections, making it difficult to prevent or treat excessive bleeding. Now researchers have developed a way to thwart production of these antibodies by using plant cells to teach the immune system to tolerate rather than attack the clotting factors.

Scientists map protein in living bacterial cells

September 4, 2014 8:29 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have for the first time mapped the atomic structure of a protein within a living cell. The technique, which peered into cells with an x-ray laser, could allow scientists to explore some components of living cells as never before.

Cellular RNA can template DNA repair in yeast

September 4, 2014 7:54 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The ability to accurately repair DNA damaged by spontaneous errors, oxidation or mutagens is crucial to the survival of cells. This repair is normally accomplished by using an identical or homologous intact sequence of DNA, but scientists have now shown that RNA produced within cells of a common budding yeast can serve as a template for repairing the most devastating DNA damage—a break in both strands of a DNA helix.

Scientists make diseased cells synthesize their own drug

September 3, 2014 8:34 am | News | Comments

In a new study that could ultimately lead to many new medicines, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing sites for molecules that can treat a form of muscular dystrophy.

Sabotage as therapy

September 3, 2014 8:00 am | by Vicky Agnew, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Cancer Center researchers may have discovered a new way of harnessing lupus antibodies to sabotage cancer cells made vulnerable by deficient DNA repair. The study found that cancer cells with deficient DNA repair mechanisms (or the inability to repair their own genetic damage) were significantly more vulnerable to attack by lupus antibodies.

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