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A new approach to treating peanut, food allergies

May 14, 2014 11:22 am | News | Comments

These days, more and more people seem to have food allergies, which can sometimes have life-threatening consequences. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report the development of a new type of flour that someday could be used in food-based therapies to help people better tolerate their allergy triggers, including peanuts.

Enzyme unveils its secrets

May 14, 2014 10:25 am | by Kim DeRose, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

In pharmaceutical production, identifying enzyme catalysts that help improve the speed and efficiency of the process can be a major boon. Figuring out exactly why a particular enzyme works so well is an altogether different quest. Take the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin.

3-D map of enzyme could lead to more effective drugs

May 14, 2014 10:03 am | by Nathan Hurst, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

The human body is full of proteins called enzymes that help nearly every function in the body. Scientists have been studying enzymes for decades in order to learn how they work and how to create better drugs and medical treatments for many ailments. Now, Univ. of Missouri researchers have completed a 3-D map of an enzyme called Proline utilization A (PutA).

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The Bright Side of Fluorescence

May 14, 2014 8:49 am | by Takeharu Nagai, PhD, Osaka Univ., Japan | Photometrics | Articles | Comments

Fluorescent proteins have helped researchers open doors to countless molecular imaging applications and deepened our understanding of biological processes. Without fluorescence, advancements in oncology, drug discovery and any field that requires single-cell to whole-body imaging would be substantially limited.

Chemists design molecules for controlling bacterial behavior

May 14, 2014 8:29 am | by Rob Enslin, Syracuse Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse Univ. have figured out how to control multiple bacterial behaviors—potentially good news for the treatment of infectious diseases and other bacteria-associated issues, without causing drug resistance.

Insight on HIV lifecycle gained through creative use of high-energy x-rays

May 14, 2014 7:59 am | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A key step in the decades-long mystery of the HIV lifecycle was uncovered using what formerly was thought of as only a supplementary x-ray technique for structural biology. This advances study of HIV as well as highlights a powerful tool to obtain currently unobtainable high-resolution structural determination and characterization of RNA molecules.

Technique enables air-stable water droplet networks

May 14, 2014 7:48 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

A simple new technique to form interlocking beads of water in ambient conditions could prove valuable for applications in biological sensing, membrane research and harvesting water from fog. Researchers have developed a method to create air-stable water droplet networks known as droplet interface bilayers. These interconnected water droplets have many roles in biological research because their interfaces simulate cell membranes.

Genetic material hitchhiking in cells may shape physical traits

May 13, 2014 11:57 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2003, when the human genome had been sequenced, many people expected a welter of new therapies to follow, as biologists identified the genes associated with particular diseases. But the process that translates genes into proteins turned out to be much more involved than anticipated. Other elements also regulate protein production, complicating the relationship between an organism’s genetic blueprint and its physical characteristics.

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All in the rotation

May 12, 2014 3:10 pm | News | Comments

In new work, a research team has shed light on a type of molecular motor used to package the DNA of a number of viruses, including such human pathogens as herpes and the adenoviruses. The scientists found that this viral packaging motor exerts torque to rotate DNA and adapts to changing conditions in order to coordinate its mechano-chemical activity.

Genetically modified foods confuse U.S. consumers

May 9, 2014 12:22 pm | by Mary Clare Jalonick - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Genetically modified foods have been around for years, but most Americans have no idea if they are eating them. The Food and Drug Administration says they don't need to be labeled. But in the first major victory for consumers who say they have the right to know whether their food contains GMOs, the state of Vermont has moved forward on its own.

Method sneaks drugs into cancer cells before triggering release

May 9, 2014 10:11 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed an anti-cancer drug delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into a cancer cell before triggering its release. The method can be likened to keeping a cancer-killing bomb and its detonator separate until they are inside a cancer cell, where they then combine to destroy the cell.

Chemotherapy timing is key to success

May 8, 2014 4:00 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have devised a novel cancer treatment that destroys tumor cells by first disarming their defenses, then hitting them with a lethal dose of DNA damage. In studies with mice, the research team showed that this one-two punch, which relies on a nanoparticle that carries two drugs and releases them at different times, dramatically shrinks lung and breast tumors.

Small mutation changes brain freeze to hot foot

May 8, 2014 3:50 pm | News | Comments

Ice cream lovers and hot tea drinkers with sensitive teeth could one day have a reason to celebrate a new finding from Duke Univ. researchers. The scientists have found a very small change in a single protein that turns a cold-sensitive receptor into one that senses heat.

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Your brain on speed: Walking doesn’t impair thinking, multitasking

May 8, 2014 2:04 pm | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

When we're strolling down memory lane, our brains recall just as much information while walking as while standing still—findings that contradict the popular science notion that walking hinders one's ability to think. Univ. of Michigan researchers at the School of Kinesiology and the College of Engineering examined how well study participants performed a very complex spatial cognitive task while walking versus standing still.

Scientists create first living organism that transmits unnatural DNA “letters”

May 8, 2014 12:41 pm | News | Comments

Scripps Research Institute scientists have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.

Researchers identify extent of new tick-borne infection

May 8, 2014 11:32 am | by Michael Greenwood, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The frequency of a new tick-borne infection that shares many similarities with Lyme disease, and a description of the antibody test used to test individuals for evidence of the infection, have been reported for the first time by researchers at the Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine.

Experimental antibody shows early promise for treatment of childhood tumor

May 8, 2014 11:14 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

 Tumors shrank or disappeared and disease progression was temporarily halted in 15 children with advanced neuroblastoma enrolled in a safety study of an experimental antibody produced at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Four patients are still alive after more than two-and-a-half years and without additional treatment.

Health insurers just say no to marijuana coverage

May 8, 2014 10:27 am | by Tom Murphy - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Patients who use medical marijuana for pain and other chronic symptoms can take an unwanted hit: Insurers don't cover the treatment, which costs as much as $1,000 a month. Once the drug of choice for hippies and rebellious teens, marijuana in recent years has gained more mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in everyone from epilepsy to cancer patients.

A lab in your pocket

May 8, 2014 8:33 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

When you get sick, your physician may take a sample of your blood, send it to the laboratory and wait for results. In the near future, however, doctors may be able to run those tests almost instantly on a piece of plastic about the size of credit card. These labs-on-a-chip would not only be quick—results are available in minutes—but also inexpensive and portable.

Advanced Photon Source to remain leader in protein structure research for years

May 7, 2014 2:19 pm | by Brian Grabowski, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

No x-ray facility in the world has supported more protein structure research and characterized more proteins than the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Soon this 2/3-mile-in-circumference x-ray instrument will get a boost in efficiency that likely will translate into a big boon for the discovery of new pharmaceuticals and the control of genetic disorders and other diseases, as well as advancing the biotech industry.

Where DNA’s copy machine pauses, cancer could be next

May 6, 2014 9:13 am | News | Comments

From time to time, genetic codes aren’t copied and collated properly, leaving gaps or breaks. A comprehensive mapping of these “fragile sites” in yeast by a team of Duke Univ. researchers shows that errors appear in specific areas of the genome where the DNA-copying machinery is slowed or stalled. The study could shed light on abnormalities seen in solid tumors.

Soy sauce molecule may unlock drug therapy for HIV patients

May 6, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

For HIV patients being treated with anti-AIDS medications, resistance to drug therapy regimens is commonplace. Often, patients develop resistance to first-line drug therapies, such as Tenofovir, and are forced to adopt more potent medications. Virologists at the Univ. of Missouri now are testing the next generation of medications that stop HIV from spreading, and are using a molecule related to flavor enhancers found in soy sauce.

Two-lock box delivers cancer therapy

May 6, 2014 7:37 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have designed a tunable virus that works like a safe deposit box. It takes two keys to open it and release its therapeutic cargo. The Rice team developed an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that unlocks only in the presence of two selected proteases, enzymes that cut up other proteins for disposal. Because certain proteases are elevated at tumor sites, the viruses can be designed to target and destroy the cancer cells.

Spread of polio now a world health emergency

May 5, 2014 10:29 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The spread of polio is an international public health emergency that could grow in coming months and ultimately unravel the nearly three-decade effort to eradicate the crippling disease, the World Health Organization said Monday. The agency described the ongoing polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as an "extraordinary event" requiring a coordinated international response.

Experimental drug prolongs life span in mice

May 2, 2014 11:30 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have newly identified a protein’s key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed—in collaboration with Tohoku Univ. in Japan—an experimental drug that inhibits the protein’s effect and prolonged the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging. The rapidly aging mice fed the experimental drug lived more than four times longer than a control group.

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