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How enzymes from white blood cells function

January 6, 2015 7:26 am | by Nathan Hurst, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

As a part of the human immune system, white blood cells create a number of enzymes that help fight disease. Sometimes, these enzymes damage tissues in inflammatory diseases. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri, have determined that one of these enzymes, known as MMP12, does not remain outside of cells while it fights infections, but rather it can travel all the way to the center of cells.

Researchers find clue to cause of tics in Tourette syndrome

January 5, 2015 4:37 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The tics seen in Tourette syndrome may be caused by the loss of specific neurons in the brain, a Yale Univ. study has demonstrated. Previous postmortem studies of people with severe forms of the disease showed that there was a decrease in a rare but important type of neuron in the dorsal striatum, deep within the brain.

HIV vaccines should avoid viral target cells

January 5, 2015 8:09 am | by Lisa Newbern, Emory Univ. | News | Comments

Vaccines designed to protect against HIV can backfire and lead to increased rates of infection. This unfortunate effect has been seen in more than one vaccine clinical trial. Scientists at Emory Univ. have newly published results that support a straightforward explanation for the backfire effect: vaccination may increase the number of immune cells that serve as viral targets.

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Research suggests approach to treat virus causing respiratory illness in children

January 5, 2015 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

New research findings point toward a class of compounds that could be effective in combating infections caused by enterovirus D68, which has stricken children with serious respiratory infections in the U.S. and elsewhere. The researchers used x-ray crystallography to learn the precise structure of the original strain of EV-D68 on its own and when bound to an anti-viral compound called "pleconaril."

Predicting superbugs’ countermoves to new drugs

January 5, 2015 7:29 am | by Robin Ann Smith, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

With drug-resistant bacteria on the rise, even common infections that were easily controlled for decades are proving trickier to treat with standard antibiotics. New drugs are desperately needed, but so are ways to maximize the effective lifespan of these drugs. To accomplish that, Duke Univ. researchers used software they developed to predict a constantly evolving infectious bacterium's countermoves to one of these new drugs ahead of time.

Plant genetic advance could lead to more efficient biofuel conversion

January 5, 2015 7:14 am | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

Plant geneticists from the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst and the Univ. of California, Davis have sorted out the gene regulatory networks that control cell wall thickening by the synthesis of the three polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The plant geneticists say that the most rigid of the polymers, lignin, represents “a major impediment” to extracting sugars from plant biomass that can be used to make biofuels.

Guide for healthy eating may consider environment

January 3, 2015 3:35 am | by By Mary Clare Jalonick - Associated Press | News | Comments

The government issues dietary guidelines every five years to encourage Americans to eat healthier. This year's version may look at what is healthy for the environment, too. A new focus on the environment would mean asking people to choose more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods—possibly at the expense of meat.

Testing anti-drinking drug with help of a fake bar

January 2, 2015 3:39 pm | by By Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The tequila sure looks real, so do the beer taps. Inside the hospital at the National Institutes of Health, researchers are testing a possible new treatment to help heavy drinkers cut back, using a replica of a fully stocked bar. The idea: Sitting in the dimly lit bar-laboratory should cue the volunteers' brains to crave a drink, and help determine if the experimental pill counters that urge.

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Gelatin nanoparticles could deliver drugs to the brain

January 2, 2015 8:12 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Stroke victims could have more time to seek treatment that could reduce harmful effects on the brain, thanks to tiny blobs of gelatin that could deliver the medication to the brain noninvasively. Univ. of Illinois researchers found that gelatin nanoparticles could be laced with medications for delivery to the brain, and that they could extend the treatment window for when a drug could be effective.

Defying textbook science, study finds new role for proteins

January 2, 2015 7:44 am | by Julie Kiefer, Univ. of Utah Heath Sciences Office of Public Affairs | News | Comments

Open any introductory biology textbook and one of the first things you’ll learn is that our DNA spells out the instructions for making proteins, tiny machines that do much of the work in our body’s cells. Results from a study published in Science defy textbook science, showing for the first time that the building blocks of a protein, called amino acids, can be assembled without blueprints.

E-readers foil good night’s sleep

December 23, 2014 11:12 am | News | Comments

Use of a light-emitting electronic book (LE-eBook) in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness and the circadian clock, which synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep to external environmental time cues, according to Harvard Medical School researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 

Study shows how breast cancer cells break free to spread in the body

December 17, 2014 2:41 pm | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

More than 90% of cancer-related deaths are caused by the spread of cancer cells from their primary tumor site to other areas of the body. A new study has identified how one important gene helps cancer cells break free from the primary tumor.

Research unlocks a mystery of albinism

December 17, 2014 9:54 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Newly published research provides the first demonstration of how a genetic mutation associated with a common form of albinism leads to the lack of melanin pigments that characterizes the condition. About 1 in 40,000 people worldwide have type 2 oculocutaneous albinism, which has symptoms of unusually light hair and skin coloration, vision problems and reduced protection from sunlight-related skin or eye cancers.

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New class of synthetic molecules mimics antibodies

December 17, 2014 9:43 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A Yale Univ. laboratory has crafted the first synthetic molecules that have both the targeting and response functions of antibodies. The new molecules attach themselves simultaneously to disease cells and disease-fighting cells. The result is a highly targeted immune response, similar to the action of natural human antibodies.

A Clear Vision

December 17, 2014 9:29 am | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

Around 400 BC, Hippocrates was among the first people in recorded history to postulate the brain as the seat of sensation and intelligence. Yet only in the last 100 years have we identified, and closely studied, its key building block: the neuron. A highly specialized cell found in all but the simplest animals, like sponges, the neuron is one of the keys to understanding the brain.

Big data analysis reveals gene sharing in mice

December 17, 2014 8:01 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have detected at least three instances of cross-species mating that likely influenced the evolutionary paths of “old world” mice, two in recent times and one in the distant past. The researchers think these instances of introgressive hybridization are only the first of many needles waiting to be found in a very large genetic haystack.

Researchers reveal Ebola virus spreads in social clusters

December 16, 2014 3:45 pm | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

An analysis of the ongoing Ebola outbreak reveals that transmission of the virus occurs in social clusters, a finding that has ramifications for case reporting and the public health. Prior studies of Ebola transmission were based on models that assumed the spread of infection occurred between random pairs of individuals.

Technology advances eye tracking as biomarker for brain function

December 16, 2014 3:19 pm | by Stacey Harris, NYU Langone Medical Center | News | Comments

Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have developed new technology that can assess the location and impact of a brain injury merely by tracking the eye movements of patients as they watch music videos for less than four minutes, according to a study published online in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Cells build “cupboards” to store metals

December 16, 2014 3:06 pm | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers in conjunction with collaborators at Univ. of California, Los Angeles have found that some cells build intracellular compartments that allow the cell to store metals and maintain equilibrium. Nearly 40% of all proteins require metal ions such as zinc, copper, manganese or iron for activity.

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars

December 16, 2014 2:37 pm | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

In one of the most comprehensive laboratory studies of its kind, Rice Univ. scientists traced the uptake and accumulation of quantum dot nanoparticles from water to plant roots, plant leaves and leaf-eating caterpillars. The study found that nanoparticle accumulation in both plants and animals varied significantly depending upon the type of surface coating applied to the particles.

Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

December 16, 2014 7:50 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology implicates a family of RNA-binding proteins in the regulation of cancer, particularly in a subtype of breast cancer. These proteins, known as Musashi proteins, can force cells into a state associated with increased proliferation.

Cancer patients employ mice as avatars

December 15, 2014 3:23 pm | by Associated Press, Marilynn Marchione | News | Comments

Scientists often test drugs in mice. Now some cancer patients are doing the same—with the hope of curing their own disease. They are paying a private lab to breed mice that carry bits of their own tumors so treatments can be tried first on the customized rodents. The idea is to see which drugs might work best on a specific person's cancer.

Molecular “hats” allow in vivo activation of disguised signaling peptides

December 15, 2014 11:42 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

When someone you know is wearing an unfamiliar hat, you might not recognize them. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are using just such a disguise to sneak biomaterials containing peptide signaling molecules into living animals. When the disguised peptides are needed to launch biological processes, the researchers shine ultraviolet light onto the molecules through the skin, causing the "hat" structures to come off.

Research confirms controversial nitrite hypothesis

December 15, 2014 10:48 am | by Bonnie Davis, Office of Communications and External Relations, Wake Forest Univ. | News | Comments

Understanding how nitrite can improve conditions such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke has been the object of worldwide research studies. New research from Wake Forest Univ. has potentially moved the science one step closer to this goal. In a recently published paper, the team shows deoxygenated hemoglobin is indeed responsible for triggering the conversion of nitrite to nitric oxide, a process that affects blood flow and clotting.

Fish use chemical camouflage from diet to hide from predators

December 15, 2014 8:43 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A species of small fish uses a homemade coral-scented cologne to hide from predators, a new study has shown, providing the first evidence of chemical camouflage from diet in fish. Filefish evade predators by feeding on their home corals and emitting an odor that makes them invisible to the noses of predators, the study found.

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