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Scientists discover how to “switch off” autoimmune diseases

September 3, 2014 7:50 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Scientists have made an important breakthrough in the fight against debilitating autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis by revealing how to stop cells attacking healthy body tissue. Rather than the body’s immune system destroying its own tissue by mistake, researchers at the Univ. of Bristol have discovered how cells convert from being aggressive to actually protecting against disease.

Nano-sized synthetic scaffolding technique

September 3, 2014 7:33 am | by Jim Barlow, Director of Science and Research Communications, Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

Scientists have tapped oil and water to create scaffolds of self-assembling, synthetic proteins called peptoid nanosheets that mimic complex biological mechanisms and processes. The accomplishmentis expected to fuel an alternative design of the 2-D peptoid nanosheets that can be used in a broad range of applications. Among them could be improved chemical sensors and separators, and safer, more effective drug delivery vehicles.

Double mastectomy doesn't boost survival for most

September 2, 2014 4:26 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Removing both breasts to treat cancer affecting only one side doesn't boost survival chances for most women, compared with surgery that removes just the tumor, a large study suggests. The results raise concerns about riskier, potentially unnecessary operations that increasing numbers of women are choosing.

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Ebola genomes sequenced

September 2, 2014 10:28 am | by Lisa Girard, Broad Institute Communication | News | Comments

Responding rapidly to the deadly outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa, a team of researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard Univ., working with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and researchers elsewhere, has sequenced and analyzed many Ebola virus genomes. Their findings could have important implications for rapid field diagnostic tests.

Research hints at why stress is more devastating for some

September 2, 2014 9:52 am | by Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Some people take stress in stride; others are done in by it. New research at Rockefeller Univ. has identified the molecular mechanisms of this so-called stress gap in mice with very similar genetic backgrounds—a finding that could lead researchers to better understand the development of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Surprising new role for calcium in sensing pain

September 2, 2014 7:53 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

When you accidentally touch a hot oven, you rapidly pull your hand away. Although scientists know the basic neural circuits involved in sensing and responding to such painful stimuli, they are still sorting out the molecular players. Duke Univ. researchers have made a surprising discovery about the role of a key molecule involved in pain in worms, and have built a structural model of the molecule.

Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study

August 29, 2014 1:28 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An experimental Ebola drug healed all 18 monkeys infected with the deadly virus in a study, boosting hopes that the treatment might help fight the outbreak raging through West Africa. Scientists gave the drug, called ZMapp, three to five days after infecting the monkeys in the laboratory. Most were showing symptoms by then, and all completely recovered.

We travel with our own germs

August 29, 2014 5:24 am | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Sorry, clean freaks. No matter how well you scrub your home, it's covered in bacteria from your own body. And if you pack up and move, new research shows, you'll rapidly transfer your unique microbial fingerprint to the doorknobs, countertops and floors in your new house, too.

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From nose to knee: Engineered cartilage regenerates joints

August 28, 2014 11:59 am | News | Comments

Cartilage lesions in joints often appear in older people as a result of degenerative processes, and appear in younger people after injuries and accidents. Such defects are difficult to repair and often require complicated surgery and long rehabilitation times. Researchers in Switzerland have reported that cells taken from the nasal septum are able to adapt to the environment of the knee joint and can thus repair articular cartilage defects.

New DARPA program aimed at developing customized therapies

August 28, 2014 9:11 am | News | Comments

DARPA’s new Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program was among the initiatives the White House highlighted this week as President Barack Obama addressed the need for new and more effective strategies for improving the health of service members, veterans and others. ElectRx goes beyond medication, aiming to explore neuromodulation of organ functions to help the human body heal itself.

Water “thermostat” could help engineer drought-resistant crops

August 28, 2014 8:58 am | News | Comments

Duke Univ. researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability and adjusts the plant’s water conservation machinery accordingly. The effect is similar to a thermostat.

Neuroscientists reverse memories’ emotional associations

August 28, 2014 8:27 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most memories have some kind of emotion associated with them. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists reveals the brain circuit that controls how memories become linked with positive or negative emotions. Furthermore, the researchers found that they could reverse the emotional association of specific memories by manipulating brain cells with optogenetics.

Researchers discover why Listeria bacterium is so hard to fight

August 27, 2014 11:11 am | News | Comments

The harmful and potentially deadly bacterium Listeria is extremely good at adapting to changes. Research from Denmark uncovers exactly how cunning Listeria is and why it is so hard to fight. The discovery could help develop more efficient ways to combat the bacteria.

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Breakthrough antibacterial approach could resolve serious skin infections

August 26, 2014 4:30 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for 80% of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections.

Nanocosmos of cells under the magnifying glass

August 26, 2014 3:56 pm | by Gunnar Bartsch, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg | News | Comments

Scientists in Germany have managed to take a unique look at the membranes of human cells using a new technique called dSTORM: direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy. This is a specific form of high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, and it makes individual saccharified proteins and lipids visible at the molecular level.

Vision problems for older adults can dim life expectancy

August 26, 2014 11:28 am | by Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Older adults losing vision as they age are more likely to face an increased mortality risk, according to new research from Purdue Univ. The researchers analyzed data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation study that tracked the vision health of 2,520 older adults, ages 65 to 84. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute.

Driving brain rhythm makes mice more sensitive to touch

August 26, 2014 8:33 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By striking up the right rhythm in the right brain region at the right time, Brown Univ. neuroscientists report in Nature Neuroscience that they managed to endow mice with greater touch sensitivity than other mice, making hard-to-perceive vibrations suddenly more vivid to them. The findings offer the first direct evidence that “gamma” brainwaves in the cortex affect perception and attention.

Scientist uncover navigation system used by cancer, nerve cells

August 25, 2014 1:35 pm | News | Comments

Specialized cells can break through normal tissue boundaries and burrow into other tissues and organs. This crucial step in many normal developmental processes is guided by an extracellular cue called netrin, which orients the anchor cell so that it invades in the right direction. In a new study, researchers have shown how receptors on the invasive cells rove around the cell membrane ”hunting” for a missing netrin signal.

A surprising new role for natural killer T cells

August 25, 2014 9:25 am | News | Comments

In the past, immune cells were clearly divided into innate cells, which respond to attacks in a non-specific way, and adaptive cells, which learn to recognize new antigens and gain the ability to rapidly react to later attacks. Researchers at RIKEN in Japan have discovered that is not always the case, having found that killer T cells previously thought to be innate, and thus short-lived, can remain in the lung for up to nine months.

Efficient Bioengineering

August 22, 2014 2:50 pm | Award Winners

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Tissue-Specific Cell-Wall Engineering is a powerful new method for rapidly transforming crops into biological factories. The technology, a suite of high-precision genetic tools and procedures, makes it possible to change plant traits in a highly selective, tissue-specific fashion.

Coffee may fight gum disease

August 22, 2014 10:38 am | by Boston Univ. | News | Comments

Coffee contains antioxidants. Antioxidants fight gum disease. Researchers in dental medicine have found that coffee consumption does not have an adverse effect on periodontal health, and may have protective effects against periodontal disease.

Study: Combining vaccines boosts polio immunity

August 21, 2014 3:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

New research suggests a one-two punch could help battle polio in some of the world's most remote and strife-torn regions: Giving a single vaccine shot to children who've already swallowed drops of an oral polio vaccine greatly boosted their immunity. The World Health Organization officials said the combination strategy already is starting to be used in mass vaccination campaigns in some hard-hit areas.

Researchers develop models to study polyelectrolytes

August 21, 2014 9:04 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Videos | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a novel and versatile modeling strategy to simulate polyelectrolyte systems. The model has applications for creating new materials as well as for studying polyelectrolytes, including DNA and RNA. Polyelectrolytes are chains of molecules that are positively or negatively charged when placed in water.

Programmed to fold: RNA origami

August 21, 2014 8:27 am | by Katie Neith, California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers from Aarhus Univ. and Caltech have developed a new method for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Inspired by techniques used for folding DNA origami, the team fabricated complicated shapes from DNA's close chemical cousin, RNA. Unlike DNA origami, whose components are chemically synthesized and then folded in an artificial heating and cooling process, RNA origami are enzymatically synthesized.

Treating pain by blocking the chili-pepper receptor

August 21, 2014 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As anyone who has bitten into a chili pepper knows, its burning spiciness—though irresistible to some—is intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper’s effect are using their findings to develop a new drug candidate for many kinds of pain, which can be caused by inflammation or other problems. They reported their progress on the compound, which is being tested in clinical trials, in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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