Researchers in Australia have discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird quantum phenomenon that occurs during photosynthesis. The function in the algae of this quantum effect, known as coherence, remains a mystery, but it is thought it could help them harvest energy from the sun much more efficiently.
Nanoengineers at UC San Diego have developed a nanoshell to protect foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells as part of chemotherapy. Enzymes are naturally smart machines that are responsible for many complex functions and chemical reactions in biology. However, despite their huge potential, their use in medicine has been limited by the immune system, which is designed to attack foreign intruders.
How does a stem cell decide what path to take? In a way, it’s up to the wisdom of the crowd. The DNA in a pluripotent stem cell is bombarded with waves of proteins whose ebb and flow nudge the cell toward becoming blood, bone, skin or organs. A new theory by scientists at Rice Univ. shows the cell’s journey is neither a simple step-by-step process nor all random.
After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation. An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered.
Researchers have determined that a copper compound known for decades may form the basis for a therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. In a new study, scientists showed in laboratory animal tests that oral intake of this compound significantly extended the lifespan and improved the locomotor function of transgenic mice that are genetically engineered to develop this debilitating and terminal disease.
The human mind can rapidly absorb and analyze new information as it flits from thought to thought. These quickly changing brain states may be encoded by synchronization of brain waves across different brain regions. Researchers found that as monkeys learn to categorize different patterns of dots, two brain areas involved in learning synchronize their brain waves to form new communication circuits.
Why would already abundant “natural killer” cells proliferate even further after subduing an infection? It’s been a biological mystery for 30 years. But now Brown Univ. scientists have an answer: After proliferation, the cells switch from marshaling the immune response to calming it down.
People abused as children show reduced brain volume in regions governing emotion, learning and memory, deficits that make them more vulnerable to relapse—and relapses of greater severity—if they become substance abusers, a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers shows. The studyidentifies potential biological markers that can identify addicts at high risk of relapse.
An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year.
Women who often indulge their cravings for hamburgers, steaks and other red meat may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, a new study suggests. Doctors have long warned that a diet loaded with red meat is linked to cancers including those of the colon and pancreas, but there has been less evidence for its role in breast cancer.
About 11% of school-age children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD. While many eventually “outgrow” the disorder, some carry their difficulties into adulthood. In the first study to compare patterns of brain activity in adults who recovered from childhood ADHD and those who didn’t, neuroscientists have discovered key differences in a brain communication network that is active when the brain is at wakeful rest.
Much as human DNA can be used as evidence in criminal trials, genetic information about microorganisms can be analyzed to identify pathogens or other biological agents in the event of a suspicious disease outbreak. The tools and methods used to investigate such outbreaks belong to the new field of microbial forensics, but the field faces substantial scientific and technical challenges, says a new report from the National Research Council.
Staph infections that become resistant to multiple antibiotics don't happen because the bacteria themselves adapt to the drugs, but because of a kind of genetic parasite they carry called a plasmid that helps its host survive the antibiotics. Plasmids are rings of bare DNA containing a handful of genes that are essentially freeloaders, borrowing most of what they need to live from their bacterial host.
Sometimes a cell has to die—when it's done with its job or inflicted with injury that could otherwise harm an organism. Conversely, cells that refuse to die when expected can lead to cancer. So scientists interested in fighting cancer have been keenly interested in learning the details of "programmed cell death." They want to understand what happens when this process goes awry and identify new targets for anticancer drugs.
Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have gained more insights into why older women are more susceptible to breast cancer. They found that as women age, the cells responsible for maintaining healthy breast tissue stop responding to their immediate surroundings, including mechanical cues that should prompt them to suppress nearby tumors.
Certain bonds connecting biological cells get stronger when they’re tugged. Those bonds are known as catch bonds and they’re formed by common adhesion proteins called cadherins. Using computer simulations based on data from previous experiments, researchers in Iowa have answered the question about how these bonds get stronger under force.
In the last few years, the benefits of short, intense workouts have been extolled by both researchers and exercise fans as something of a metabolic panacea capable of providing greater overall fitness. Now, a new study from scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida confirm that there is something molecularly unique about intense exercise: the activation of a single protein.
In the battle against stubborn skin infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a new single-dose antibiotic is as effective as a twice-daily infusion given for up to 10 days, according to a large study led by Duke Medicine researchers. Researchers said the advantage of the new drug, oritavancin, is its potential to curtail what has been a key driver of antibiotic resistance.
A new report offers the strongest evidence yet that a mysterious Middle East virus spreads from camels to people. Researchers studied the illness of a 44-year-old camel owner in Saudi Arabia, who died in November of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. Through repeated tests, they were able to show: the man and one camel were infected with the same virus.
One of the biggest challenges for medical researchers studying the effectiveness of stem cell therapies is that transplants or grafts of cells are often rejected by the hosts. This rejection can render experiments useless. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have shown that a new line of genetically modified pigs will host transplanted cells without the risk of rejection.
Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. The disease can be caused by both external and internal factors; and, if the spread isn’t controlled, it can result in death. The annual cancer statistics report from the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 1,885,540 new cancer cases and 585,720 cancer deaths in the U.S. for 2014.
Twenty years after the hormone leptin was found to regulate metabolism, appetite and weight through brain cells called neurons, Yale School of Medicine researchers have found that the hormone also acts on other types of cells to control appetite.
New research from North Carolina State Univ. pinpoints the areas of the cerebral cortex that are affected in mice with absence epilepsy and shows that transplanting embryonic neural cells into these areas can alleviate symptoms of the disease by reducing seizure activity. The work may help identify the areas of the human brain affected in absence epilepsy and lead to new therapies for sufferers.
The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. It is the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory.
New research by an international consortium may help physicians better understand the chronological development of a brain aneurysm. Using radiocarbon dating to date samples of ruptured and unruptured cerebral aneurysm tissue, the team, led by neurosurgeon Nima Etminan, found that the main structural constituent and protein—collagen type I—in cerebral aneurysms is distinctly younger than once thought.