Researchers from North Carolina State University believe they have solved a puzzle that has vexed science since plants first appeared on Earth. In a paper published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers provide the first 3D model of an enzyme that links a simple sugar, glucose, into long-chain cellulose, the basic building block within plant cell walls that gives plants structure.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine have discovered a technique that directly converts skin cells to the type of brain cells destroyed in patients with multiple sclerosis and other so-called myelin disorders. This breakthrough now enables "on demand" production of myelinating cells, which provide a vital sheath of insulation that protects neurons and enables the delivery of brain impulses to the rest of the body.
DNA may be the building block of life, but can something taken from it also be the building block of a multimillion-dollar medical monopoly? The Supreme Court grapples Monday with the question of whether human genes can be patented. Its ultimate answer could reshape U.S. medical research, the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer and the multibillion-dollar medical and biotechnology business.
Like finally seeing all the gears of a watch and how they work together, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkeley have, for the first time ever, solved the puzzle of how the various components of an entire telomerase enzyme complex fit together and function in a 3D structure.
When it comes to delivering genes to living human tissue, the odds of success come down the molecule. The entire therapy— including the tools used to bring new genetic material into a cell—must have predictable effects. Now, a new screening process will simplify non-viral transfection, providing a method researchers and clinicians use to find an optimal set of biomaterials to deliver genes to cells.
Proteomics is a powerful technique for examining the structure and function of the proteome. For some organisms, proteomics can uncover the relationship between DNA, RNA, and the production of proteins. For those without a sequenced genome, proteomics can finding new proteins. In a new study, researchers have demonstrated the suitability of proteomics in determining the composition of gymnosperm pollination drops.
Scientists at the Uniersity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have "rationally rewired" some of the cell's smallest components to create proteins that can be switched on or off by command. These "protein switches" can be used to interrogate the inner workings of each cell, helping scientists uncover the molecular mechanisms of human health and disease.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) this week launched a collaborative initiative with university researchers focused on synthetic, or engineered, cells—part of a larger effort to use the smallest units of life to help Sailors and Marines execute their missions. ONR currently has multiple ongoing projects in the field of synthetic biology.
Nitric oxide (NO), a gas with many biological functions in healthy cells, can also help some cancer cells survive chemotherapy. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reveals one way in which this resistance may arise, and raises the possibility of weakening cancer cells by cutting off their supply of NO.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered a new protein that controls the presence of the Vel blood group antigen on our red blood cells. The discovery makes it possible to use simple DNA testing to find blood donors for patients who lack the Vel antigen and need a blood transfusion. This is significant because there is a global shortage of Vel-negative blood
New research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may allow scientists to develop a test that can predict the severity of side effects of some common chemotherapy agents in individual patients, allowing doctors to tailor treatments to minimize the damage. The study focused on powerful cancer drugs known as alkylating agents, which damage DNA by attaching molecules containing carbon atoms to it. Found in tobacco smoke and in byproducts of fuel combustion, these compounds can actually cause cancer. However, because they can kill tumor cells, very reactive alkylating agents are also used to treat cancer.
One of the major obstacles to growing new organs—replacement hearts, lungs, and kidneys—is the difficulty researchers face in building blood vessels that keep the tissues alive, but new findings from the University of Michigan could help overcome this roadblock.
A sensing system developed at the University of Cambridge is being commercialized in the U.K. for use in rapid, low-cost DNA sequencing, which would make the prediction and diagnosis of disease more efficient, and individualized treatment more affordable.
Scientists may soon be able to turn to one of the most powerful forces in biology—evolution—to help in their quest to develop new synthetic polymers. As described in a recent paper, a team of Harvard University researchers has developed a new method to create synthetic polymers using the coding of genetic material. The method may eventually be used to evolve synthetic polymers with new or improved properties such as the ability to serve as catalysts in chemical reactions or enhanced therapeutic potential.
For the first time, an elusive step in the process of human DNA replication has been demystified by scientists at Penn State University. According to senior author Stephen J. Benkovic, the scientists "discovered how a key step in human DNA replication is performed."
Our ability to learn and form memories is due to an increase in synaptic communication called Long Term Potentiation. Although researchers have observed this chemical process in action, the question of what triggers this process has remained. Now, using a common fruit fly, scientists have identified a key molecule responsible for triggering this “molecular memory switch” in our brain linked to our formation of long-term memories.
Through the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, several types of bacteria have become resistant to drugs that were designed to kill them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that some of these "superbugs" are linked to tens of thousands of deaths in the United States annually, including 14,000 for C. difficile and 19,000 for MRSA. Technology developed by Purdue University researchers and commercialized through a Purdue Research Park-based firm could be effective against the increased number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in the world.
Scientists from the University of Bath have developed a new technique that could be used in blood tests to detect a range of age-related conditions such as diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer's. In the process of aging, proteins in the body react with sugars in a process called glycation. This damages the protein's function which in some diseases can trigger complications such as inflammation and premature aging.
A huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person's risk for breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer, scientists reported Wednesday.
As public health officials sound the alarm about the global spread of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers are working to develop more effective antibiotics to counter this dangerous trend. Now, results from a team including a Princeton University scientist offer a possible solution that uses the bacteria's own byproducts to destroy them.
New research findings may help scientists design drugs to treat a virus infection that causes potentially fatal brain swelling and paralysis in children. The virus, called enterovirus 71, causes hand, foot, and mouth disease and is common throughout the world. Although that disease usually is not fatal, the virus has been reported to cause fatal encephalitis in infants and young children, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, no cure exists for the infection. However, new findings show the precise structure of the virus bound to a molecule that inhibits infection.
We live in the post-genomic era, when DNA sequence data is growing exponentially. However, for most of the genes that we identify, we have no idea of their biological functions. They are like words in a foreign language, waiting to be deciphered. A new project called CAFA, for Critical Assessment of Function Annotation, is helping channel the flood of data from genome research to deduce the function of proteins.
Ideally, researchers would like to be able to design and build new catalysts from scratch that can do exactly what they want. However, designing—or even modifying—protein enzymes is a very difficult task. Illinois chemists have overcome the issues with size and complexity by using an artificially synthesized DNA sequence to do a protein’s job, creating opportunities for DNA to find work in more areas of biology, chemistry and medicine than ever before
Three-quarters of the DNA in evolved organisms is wrapped around proteins, forming the basic unit of DNA packaging called nucleosomes, like a thread around a spool. The problem lies in understanding how DNA can then be read by such proteins. Nowphysicists have created a model showing how proteins move along DNA, in a paper just published in EPJ E
The drug-resistant bacteria known as MRSA, once confined to hospitals but now widespread in communities, will likely continue to exist in both settings as separate strains, according to a new study. Researchers at Princeton University used mathematical models to explore what will happen to community and hospital MRSA strains, which differ genetically.