Drug designers now have a new way of designing drug candidates suitable for dislodging unstable water molecules. Previous research treated water as a continuum medium even at interfaces. Researchers in Argentina have built a discrete model that describes water molecules’ partial confinement on the protein’s surface. The area where water is most easily dislodged could be a candidate for drug target research.
Many drugs such as agents for cancer or autoimmune diseases have nasty side effects because while they kill disease-causing cells, they also affect healthy cells. Now a new study has demonstrated a technique for developing more targeted drugs, by using molecular “robots” to hone in on more specific populations of cells.
Researchers at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have used optogenetics techniques to implant false memories into mice, potentially illuminating the mechanisms underlying the human phenomenon of “recalling” experiences that never occurred.
The phenomenon of false memory has been well-documented: In many court cases, defendants have been found guilty based on testimony from witnesses and victims who were sure of their recollections, but DNA evidence later overturned the conviction. In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice.
Two years ago, a team from the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara discovered the mechanism by which a neurotransmitter dramatically changes color in the common market squid. Now the researchers have delved deeper to uncover the mechanism responsible for the dramatic changes in color used by such creatures as squids and octopuses. They have found the animals have evolved their own version of a tunable Bragg reflector.
As many as 10% of combat wounds result in life threatening infections that ultimately lead to septicemia and/or sepsis. Battelle, in partnership with NxStage Medical Inc. and Aethlon Medical, has won a nearly $23 million contract from DARPA to develop a new medical device that would holistically treat for sepsis by removing blood and cleaning it in a manner similar to dialysis.
In a twist on "survival of the fittest," researchers have discovered that evolution is driven not by a single beneficial mutation but rather by a group of mutations, including ones called "genetic hitchhikers" that are simply along for the ride. These hitchhikers are mutations that do not appear to have a role in contributing to an organism's fitness and therefore its evolution, yet may play an important role down the road.
A new mathematical theory from the Univ. of Bath is challenging one of the most basic ideas of biology—that the concept of a ‘species’ applies to all creatures. The new results suggest that classifying very small creatures from extremely large populations into species may actually be impossible. This is because for large populations, the gradual build-up over time of random genetic mutations leads to an overwhelming amount of diversity.
There’s an old head-scratcher that asks whether the refrigerator light really goes out when you close the door. The answer may be about to change. Scientists have known that plants respond to light in a variety of ways. But the results of a new study tell them how specific light wavelengths can manipulate volatile compounds that control aroma and taste in several high-value crops, including petunia, tomato, strawberry and blueberry.
Another reason to eat breakfast: Skipping it may increase your chances of a heart attack. A study of older men found those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of a heart attack than those who ate a morning meal. There's no reason why the results wouldn't apply to other people, too, the Harvard researchers said.
A family of molecules developed at Carnegie Mellon Univ. to break down pollutants in water is one step closer to commercial use. Recently published study results show that the molecules, which are aimed at removing hazardous endocrine disruptors from water sources, aren't endocrine disruptors themselves. They proved to be non-toxic to developing zebrafish embryos.
Using several imaging techniques, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists found that a common soil bacterium stays connected by a network of chain-like membranes. They believe the bacterium uses its network to coordinate social activities—such as evading bacterial enemies and snaring prey—without revealing its location.
Stem cells are key to the promise of regenerative medicine, but the formula for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the cells that can be created from a patient’s own tissues, has limited variations. New research, however, says iPSCs are far more versatile than originally thought. For the first time, researchers have replace a gene once thought impossible to substitute, creating the potential for more flexible recipes.
This week Illumina, Inc. announced the availability of its Phasing Analysis Service. The new sample-to-answer service delivers human whole-genome phase information, empowering gene mapping studies with a more comprehensive view of genomic variation. With phase data, researchers can better understand the effect of genotype on phenotype and variant interaction within a gene.
Microbiologists in France are reinvigorating a way of battling C. difficile infections that they hope will help overcome the growing problem of antibiotic resistant superbugs in hospitals. Using a model human colon, the researchers showed that the administration of a specific bacteriophage significantly reduced toxins and the number of C. difficile cells produced without significantly affecting the other members of the gut microbiota.
Researchers in Switzerland have developed a live-cell fluorescent labeling that makes bacterial cell-to-cell communication pathways visible. The communication between bacterial cells is essential in the regulation of processes within bacterial populations, such as biofilm development.
Although malaria has been eradicated in many countries, including the United States, it still infects more than 200 million people worldwide, killing nearly a million every year. In a major step toward reducing that number, a team led by MIT researchers has now developed a way to grow liver tissue that can support the liver stage of the life cycle of the two most common species of malaria.
Using a close interplay of neuronal control and clever biomechanical tricks, insects can move their limbs without muscles. So-called “passive joint forces” serve to return the limb back towards a preferred resting position. This surprising finding from neurobiologists at the Univ. of Leicester may provide engineers with new ways to improve the control of robotic and prosthetic limbs.
A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have identified a mechanism that can prevent the normal prion protein from changing its molecular shape into the abnormal form responsible for neurodegenerative diseases. This finding offers new hope in the battle against a foe that until now has always proved fatal.
Butterfly wings can do remarkable things with light, and humans are still trying to learn from them. Physicists have now uncovered how subtle differences in the tiny crystals of butterfly wings create stunningly varied patterns of color even among closely related species. The discovery could lead to new coatings for manufactured materials that could change color by design.
According to a presentation this week at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists exposition in Chicago, new technologies and ingredients are improving the taste, appearance and nutritional content of gluten-free food products, a market that is expected to grow to $6 billion by 2017. An estimated one in 133 Americans has celiac disease, an immune disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten peptides found in wheat, barley and rye.
The electrical activity of neurons contains a mixture of stored memories, environmental circumstances, and current state of mind, scientists have found in a study of laboratory rats. The research, which monitored neuronal electrical activity in the hippocampus, relied on the concept of “cross-episode retrieval”, in which brain activity is stimulated in a given circumstance that was also activated in a previous, distinctive experience.
The ergodic theorem, proposed by mathematician George Birkhoff in 1931, holds that if you follow an individual particle over an infinite amount of time, it will go through all the states that are seen in an infinite population at an instant in time. Experiments by biochemists in California show for the first time that the ergodic theorem can be demonstrated by a collection of individual protein molecules.
The interior of a living cell is a crowded place, with proteins and other macromolecules packed tightly together. A team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon Univ. has approximated this molecular crowding in an artificial cellular system and found that tight quarters help the process of gene expression, especially when other conditions are less than ideal.
New research provides a rare “picture” of the activity taking place at the single molecular level. Scientists have used total internal reflection microscope to obtain visual evidence of the mechanisms involved when a cell transports mRNA (or messenger RNA) to where a protein is needed to perform a cellular function.