Scientists have discovered an unknown mechanism that establishes polarity in developing nerve cells. According to the research at Univ. of Arizona, two different versions of the same signaling protein tell a nerve cell which end is which. The findings could help improve therapies for spinal injuries and neurodegenerative diseases.
At first glance, Botryllus schlosseri has very little in common with humans. And yet, Botryllus is humans' closest living invertebrate relative. Now, a group led by Stanford Univ. scientists has sequenced its genome, making it possible to find the genetic basis for some of the animal's amazing regenerative abilities and immunity features, which potentially could be applied to human medicine.
A new study by Rice Univ. biophysicists offers the most comprehensive picture yet of the molecular-level action of melittin, the principal toxin in bee venom. The research could aid in the development of new drugs that use a similar mechanism as melittin’s to attack cancer and bacteria.
Fingerprints are not the only thing that killers can leave behind—add cat hair to that list. A British university said Wednesday that its DNA database of British felines helped convict a man of manslaughter, illustrating how the genetic material of pets can be used by crime scene investigators.
A recent invention at Purdue Univ. could improve therapy selection for personalized cancer care. Researchers have created a technique called BioDynamic Imaging that measures the activity inside cancer biopsies, or samples of cells. It allows technicians to assess the efficacy of drug combinations, called regimens, on personal cancers.
Watermelon juice’s reputation among athletes is getting scientific support in a new study, which found that juice from the summer favorite fruit can relieve post-exercise muscle soreness. The report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry attributes watermelon’s effects to the amino acid L-citrulline.
A hallmark of cancer is uncontrolled and sustained cell division. One particular overactive protein, STAT3, is implicated in this malfunction. Scientists have recently discovered a complex mechanism that regulates this protein’s activity in healthy cells.
A new study from an international team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory is guiding drug designers toward improved pharmaceuticals to treat HIV. The scientists used neutrons and x-rays to study the interactions between HIV protease, a protein produced by the HIV virus, and an antiviral drug commonly used to block virus replication.
It’s counterintuitive but true: Some microorganisms that use flagella for locomotion are able to swim faster in gel-like fluids such as mucus. Research engineers at Brown Univ. have figured out why. It's the angle of the coil that matters.
For cancer patients, it’s not the primary tumor that is deadly, but the spread or “metastasis” of cancer cells from the primary tumor to secondary locations throughout the body that is the problem. That’s why a major focus of contemporary cancer research is how to stop or fight metastasis. Studies suggest that metastasizing cancer cells undergo a major molecular change when they leave the primary tumor—a process called EMT.
Communities in nature are likely to be a lot more sensitive to change than previously thought, according to a new study at Rice Univ. The study shows that scientists concerned about human influence on the biosphere need to take a deeper look at how altering the dynamics of a population—for example, by removing large members of a species through overfishing—can have measurable consequences.
In 1998, scientists published the first complete genome of a multicellular organism—the worm Caenorhabditis elegans. At the same time, new technologies were emerging to help researchers manipulate genes and learn more about their functions.
Outbreaks such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) have afflicted people around the world, yet many people think these trends are on the decline. Quite the opposite is true. The efforts to combat this epidemic are being spearheaded by a team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists.
A dog may be man's best friend, but dolphins can imitate human actions, and even how they solve problems. According to a recent study at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida, when a dolphin has one of its senses blocked, it can use other senses to mimic a human's movements.
Rice Univ. researchers are making strides toward a set of rules to custom-design Lego-like viral capsid proteins for gene therapy. A recent paper details the team's use of computational and bioengineering methods to combine pieces of very different adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) to create new, benign viruses that can deliver DNA payloads to specific cells.
The human brain has 100 billion neurons, connected to each other in networks that allow us to interpret the world around us, plan for the future and control our actions and movements. Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Sebastian Seung wants to map those networks, creating a wiring diagram of the brain that could help scientists learn how we each become our unique selves.
Higher blood-sugar levels, even those well short of diabetes, seem to raise the risk of developing dementia, a major new study finds. Researchers say it suggests a novel way to try to prevent Alzheimer's disease—by keeping glucose at a healthy level.
Ninety birthdays maybe, but not 120: Americans hope to stretch out life expectancy another decade or so, but they are ambivalent, even skeptical, about a fountain of youth. A new poll by the Pew Research Center explores attitudes about a scientific quest: Creating treatments that one day might slow the aging process and let people live decades longer than is normal today.
More forms of mercury can be converted to deadly methylmercury than previously thought, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience.The discovery provides scientists with another piece of the mercury puzzle, bringing them one step closer to understanding the challenges associated with mercury cleanup.
Certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, have the ability to deploy tiny darts. This biological weapon kills the host cell by piercing the membrane. Researchers have unlocked, piece by piece, this intriguing little machine and found an assembly of proteins that, in unfolding at the right time, takes the form of a spur.
“Are we there yet?” As anyone who has traveled with young children knows, maintaining focus on distant goals can be a challenge. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests how the brain achieves this task, and indicates that the neurotransmitter dopamine may signal the value of long-term rewards.
Sugars are important sources of energy for all organisms. Virginia Tech researchers have discovered that certain types of sugars, known as polysaccharides, may also control the timing and placement of minerals that animals use to produce hard structures such as shells and exoskeletons of mollusks, lobsters, and shrimp.
The bacterium Yersinia can cause a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea. The bacterium’s pathogenic potential is based on a syringe-like injection apparatus called the injectisome. For the first time, an international team of researchers including scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research Germany, has unraveled this molecular syringe’s spatial conformation.
In collaboration with teams in China, researchers in California have used the technology of single-cell RNA sequencing to track the genetic development of a human and a mouse embryo at a high level of accuracy. The technique could lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses of genetic diseases, even when the embryo consists of only eight cells.
The chemical components crucial to the start of life on Earth may have primed and protected each other in never-before-realized ways, according to new research led by Univ. of Washington scientists. It could mean a simpler scenario for how that first spark of life came about on the planet.