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People with tinnitus process emotions differently from peers

June 26, 2014 12:47 pm | by Chelsey Coombs, Life Sciences Intern, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Patients with persistent ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus, process emotions differently in the brain from those with normal hearing, researchers report in Brain Research. Tinnitus afflicts 50 million people in the U.S., and causes those with the condition to hear noises that aren’t really there. These phantom sounds are not speech, but rather whooshing noises, train whistles, cricket noises or whines.

Sequencing efforts miss DNA crucial to bacteria’s disease causing power

June 25, 2014 10:41 pm | News | Comments

Genomic sequencing is supposed to reveal the entire genetic makeup of an organism. The technology can be used to analyze a disease-causing bacterium to determine how much harm it is capable of causing. But new research at Rockefeller Univ. suggests that current sequencing protocols overlook crucial bits of information: isolated pieces of DNA floating outside the bacterial chromosome, the core of a cell’s genetic material.

Young researcher discovers source of disco clams’ light show

June 25, 2014 11:27 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Using high speed video, transmission electron microscopy, spectrometry, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, and computer modeling, a Univ. of California, Berkeley graduate student has unraveled the mystery of the disco clams flashing “lips”. Most people assumed the glowing mantle was the result of bio-luminescence, but Lindsey Dougherty has found it is caused by something else entirely.

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Study shows puzzle games can improve mental flexibility

June 24, 2014 10:26 am | News | Comments

Executive functions in your brain are important for making decisions in everyday life when you have to deal with sudden changes in your environment. A recent study by scientists in Singapore showed that adults who played the physics-based puzzle video game Cut the Rope regularly, for as little as an hour a day, had improved executive functions. This marks the first time video games have been shown to deliver such broad improvements.

MAD science: Understanding cellular signaling

June 24, 2014 7:50 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers in California has zeroed in on the important process of “attenuation,” the way cells guard against potentially harmful overreactions to the external cues that enable them to adapt to prevailing conditions. This bimolecular mutually assured destruction (MAD) mechanism of signaling attenuation broadens our understanding of the range of mechanisms nature has evolved to enact this critical function.

Ferroelectric switching seen in biological tissues

June 24, 2014 7:32 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Measurements taken at the molecular scale have, for the first time, confirmed a key property that could improve our knowledge of how the heart and lungs function. Univ. of Washington researchers have shown that a favorable electrical property is present in a type of protein found in organs that repeatedly stretch and retract, such as the lungs, heart and arteries.

Scientists use x-rays to look at how DNA protects itself from UV light

June 23, 2014 2:51 pm | News | Comments

The molecular building blocks that make up DNA absorb ultraviolet light so strongly that sunlight should deactivate them, yet it does not. Now, scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made detailed observations of a “relaxation response” that protects these molecules, and the genetic information they encode, from UV damage.

Biologists find “missing link” in production of protein factories in cells

June 23, 2014 8:02 am | News | Comments

Ribosomes are responsible for the production of the wide variety of proteins that include enzymes. But until now researchers had not uncovered all of the details of how the proteins that are used to construct ribosomes are themselves produced. Biologists in California now say they have found the “missing link” in the chemical system that allows ribosomal proteins to be synthesized.

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New monkey model for AIDS offers promise for medical research

June 19, 2014 4:38 pm | by Zach Veilleux, The Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

HIV-1, the virus responsible for most cases of AIDS, is a very selective virus. It doesn’t readily infect species other than its usual hosts. While this would qualify as good news for most mammals, for humans this fact has made the search for effective treatments and vaccines for AIDS that much more difficult; without an accurate animal model of the disease, researchers have had few options for clinical studies of the virus.

Bioengineers invent way to speed up drug discovery

June 19, 2014 4:20 pm | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

Think of the human body as an intricate machine whose working parts are proteins: molecules that change shape to enable our organs and tissues to perform tasks such as breathing, eating or thinking. Of the millions of proteins, 500 in the kinase family are particularly important to drug discovery. Kinases are messengers: They deliver signals that regulate and orchestrate the actions of other proteins.

Researchers develop genetic control mechanism for major livestock pest

June 19, 2014 1:04 pm | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a technique to control populations of the Australian sheep blowfly—a major livestock pest in Australia and New Zealand—by making female flies dependent upon a common antibiotic to survive.

Breathalyzer test may detect deadliest cancer

June 18, 2014 4:04 pm | News | Comments

Lung cancer causes more deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common cancers combined, and the main reason is poor detection methods. A new device developed by a team of Israeli, American and British cancer researchers may turn the tide by both accurately detecting lung cancer and identifying its stage of progression. The breathalyzer test is embedded with a "NaNose" nanotech chip to literally "sniff out" cancer tumors.

Human sweat can reduce bacteria defenses in hospitals, schools

June 18, 2014 8:35 am | News | Comments

Sweaty hands can reduce the effectiveness of bacteria-fighting brass objects in hospitals and schools after just an hour of coming into contact with them, according to scientists at the Univ. of Leicester. While copper found in everyday brass items has an antimicrobial effect on bacteria the team has discovered that peoples’ sweat can produce sufficient corrosion to adversely affect its use to kill a range of microorganisms.

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Algae able to switch quantum coherence on and off

June 17, 2014 3:54 pm | News | Comments

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.

Nanoshell shields foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells from immune system

June 17, 2014 11:24 am | News | Comments

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.

Many bodies prompt stem cells to change

June 16, 2014 4:45 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

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.

With the right rehabilitation, paralyzed rats learn to grip again

June 16, 2014 2:58 pm | News | Comments

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.

Findings point toward first therapy for Lou Gehrig’s disease

June 13, 2014 7:36 am | News | Comments

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.

Synchronized brain waves enable rapid learning

June 13, 2014 7:22 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

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.

Proliferation cues “natural killer” cells for job change

June 12, 2014 12:13 pm | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

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.

Brain retains signs of childhood trauma

June 12, 2014 11:20 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

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.

A key step toward a safer strep vaccine

June 12, 2014 8:17 am | News | Comments

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.

Study: Red meat possibly linked to breast cancer

June 11, 2014 9:22 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

Inside the adult ADHD brain

June 11, 2014 8:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

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.

Reports: Advances in microbial forensics needed to respond to outbreaks

June 10, 2014 9:53 am | News | Comments

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.

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