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Scientists find brain protein aids influenza recovery

January 12, 2015 7:55 am | by Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Washington State Univ. Spokane scientists have found a brain protein that boosts the healing power of sleep and speeds an animal's recovery from the flu. The research has determined that a brain-specific protein is uniquely involved in sleep responses triggered by the influenza virus in mice. Without the protein, animals develop more severe symptoms of infection and die at higher rates than regular or control mice.

Solving a case of intercellular entrapment

January 9, 2015 7:51 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

Optogenetics, which uses light to control cellular events, is poised to become an important technology in molecular biology and beyond. The Reich Group in Univ. of California, Santa Barbara’s Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry has made a major contribution to this emergent field by developing a light-activated nanocarrier that transports proteins into cells and releases them on command.

Broad immune response may be needed to destroy latent HIV

January 8, 2015 10:43 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A major barrier to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS is the presence of latent HIV in the cells of chronically infected individuals. But a team of Yale and Johns Hopkins researchers may have pinpointed a strategy for eliminating the residual virus. Despite treatment with antiretroviral therapy, HIV persists in patients in a latent reservoir.

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January 8, 2015 8:12 am | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

Inflammation is a normal and often beneficial response to injury or infection. The swelling, heat and even pain are the body’s attempts to protect its soft tissue, remove offending objects, substances or microbes and initiate healing. However, persistent inflammation is often indicative of more serious conditions and can lead to problems of its own, including impaired healing, loss of function or even tissue death.

Microfluidic Method for Primary Neuron Culture and Analysis

January 7, 2015 8:42 am | by Paul J. Hung, Shin-Yi Cindy Chen, Ivana Zubonja and Terry A. Gaige, EMD Millipore | Articles | Comments

Dissecting neuron function, while crucially important for understanding normal and pathological neurological processes, requires measuring the responses of live cells to external stimuli. Because of the inherent difficulties in performing perturbation analyses inside living organisms, there has been a longstanding drive towards developing methodologies for in vitro analysis of neurons.

Study pinpoints autism-linked protein for sculpting brain connections

January 7, 2015 8:00 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Shortly after birth, human brains expand rapidly with the experience of an entirely new world. During this period, neurons in the newborn brain compete with one another to form lasting connections, called synapses. A new study by Duke Univ. researchers provides a close-up of synapse refinement and identifies a protein that is crucial in this process.

Responsive material could be the “golden ticket” of sensing

January 7, 2015 7:45 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Cambridge have developed a new self-assembled material, which, by changing its shape, can amplify small variations in temperature and concentration of biomolecules, making them easier to detect. The material, which consists of synthetic spheres “glued” together with short strands of DNA, could be used to underpin a new class of biosensors, or form the basis for new drug delivery systems.

Body clock protects metabolic health

January 6, 2015 3:30 pm | by Tom Vasich, Univ. of California, Irvine | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Irvine scientists studying the role of circadian rhythms in skin stem cells found that this clock plays a key role in coordinating daily metabolic cycles and cell division. Their research, which appears in Cell Reports, shows, for the first time, how the body’s intrinsic day-night cycles protect and nurture stem cell differentiation.

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When DNA gets sent to time-out

January 6, 2015 10:21 am | by Catherine Kolf, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

For a skin cell to do its job, it must turn on a completely different set of genes than a liver cell—and keep genes it doesn’t need switched off. One way of turning off large groups of genes at once is to send them to “time-out” at the edge of the nucleus, where they are kept quiet. New research from Johns Hopkins sheds light on how DNA gets sent to the nucleus’ far edge, a process critical to controlling genes and determining cell fate.

How enzymes from white blood cells function

January 6, 2015 7:26 am | by Nathan Hurst, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

As a part of the human immune system, white blood cells create a number of enzymes that help fight disease. Sometimes, these enzymes damage tissues in inflammatory diseases. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri, have determined that one of these enzymes, known as MMP12, does not remain outside of cells while it fights infections, but rather it can travel all the way to the center of cells.

Researchers find clue to cause of tics in Tourette syndrome

January 5, 2015 4:37 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The tics seen in Tourette syndrome may be caused by the loss of specific neurons in the brain, a Yale Univ. study has demonstrated. Previous postmortem studies of people with severe forms of the disease showed that there was a decrease in a rare but important type of neuron in the dorsal striatum, deep within the brain.

DNA origami could lead to nano “transformers” for biomedical applications

January 5, 2015 3:59 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | Videos | Comments

If the new nanomachines built at The Ohio State Univ. look familiar, it’s because they were designed with full-size mechanical parts such as hinges and pistons in mind. The project is the first to prove that the same basic design principles that apply to typical full-size machine parts can also be applied to DNA; and can produce complex, controllable components for future nanorobots.

Sensor demonstrates lack of space in living cells

January 5, 2015 10:12 am | by Ruhr-Univ. Bochum | News | Comments

Proteins and other biomolecules are often analyzed exclusively in aqueous solutions in test tubes. But it is uncertain if these experimental studies can be transferred to the densely packed cellular environment. The Bochum-based researchers have developed a novel method which can be used to analyze the effects of the lack of space in living cells with the aid of a microscope for the first time.

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Watching nanoscale assembly live

January 5, 2015 9:57 am | by Max Ryadnov, National Physical Laboratory | News | Comments

Ebola virus, Alzheimer's amyloid fibrils, tissue collagen scaffolds and cellular cytoskeleton are all filamentous structures that spontaneously assemble from individual proteins. Many protein filaments are well studied and are already finding use in regenerative medicine, molecular electronics and diagnostics. However, the very process of their assembly, protein fibrillogenesis, remains largely unrevealed.

HIV vaccines should avoid viral target cells

January 5, 2015 8:09 am | by Lisa Newbern, Emory Univ. | News | Comments

Vaccines designed to protect against HIV can backfire and lead to increased rates of infection. This unfortunate effect has been seen in more than one vaccine clinical trial. Scientists at Emory Univ. have newly published results that support a straightforward explanation for the backfire effect: vaccination may increase the number of immune cells that serve as viral targets.

Plant genetic advance could lead to more efficient biofuel conversion

January 5, 2015 7:14 am | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

Plant geneticists from the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst and the Univ. of California, Davis have sorted out the gene regulatory networks that control cell wall thickening by the synthesis of the three polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The plant geneticists say that the most rigid of the polymers, lignin, represents “a major impediment” to extracting sugars from plant biomass that can be used to make biofuels.

Defying textbook science, study finds new role for proteins

January 2, 2015 7:44 am | by Julie Kiefer, Univ. of Utah Heath Sciences Office of Public Affairs | News | Comments

Open any introductory biology textbook and one of the first things you’ll learn is that our DNA spells out the instructions for making proteins, tiny machines that do much of the work in our body’s cells. Results from a study published in Science defy textbook science, showing for the first time that the building blocks of a protein, called amino acids, can be assembled without blueprints.

Using Light to Produce Natural Sleep Patterns

December 30, 2014 9:13 am | by MIT | News | Comments

Getting enough of the right kind of sleep is crucial for keeping both body and mind healthy. Now a team of researchers at MIT has moved a step closer to being able to produce natural sleep patterns.                

Lens-free microscope can detect cancer at the cellular level

December 17, 2014 3:07 pm | by Bill Kisliuk, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Los Angeles researchers have developed a lens-free microscope that can be used to detect the presence of cancer or other cell-level abnormalities with the same accuracy as larger and more expensive optical microscopes. The invention could lead to less expensive and more portable technology for performing common examinations of tissue, blood and other biomedical specimens.

Study shows how breast cancer cells break free to spread in the body

December 17, 2014 2:41 pm | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

More than 90% of cancer-related deaths are caused by the spread of cancer cells from their primary tumor site to other areas of the body. A new study has identified how one important gene helps cancer cells break free from the primary tumor.

Research unlocks a mystery of albinism

December 17, 2014 9:54 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Newly published research provides the first demonstration of how a genetic mutation associated with a common form of albinism leads to the lack of melanin pigments that characterizes the condition. About 1 in 40,000 people worldwide have type 2 oculocutaneous albinism, which has symptoms of unusually light hair and skin coloration, vision problems and reduced protection from sunlight-related skin or eye cancers.

New class of synthetic molecules mimics antibodies

December 17, 2014 9:43 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A Yale Univ. laboratory has crafted the first synthetic molecules that have both the targeting and response functions of antibodies. The new molecules attach themselves simultaneously to disease cells and disease-fighting cells. The result is a highly targeted immune response, similar to the action of natural human antibodies.

Big data analysis reveals gene sharing in mice

December 17, 2014 8:01 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have detected at least three instances of cross-species mating that likely influenced the evolutionary paths of “old world” mice, two in recent times and one in the distant past. The researchers think these instances of introgressive hybridization are only the first of many needles waiting to be found in a very large genetic haystack.

Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

December 16, 2014 7:50 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology implicates a family of RNA-binding proteins in the regulation of cancer, particularly in a subtype of breast cancer. These proteins, known as Musashi proteins, can force cells into a state associated with increased proliferation.

Molecular “hats” allow in vivo activation of disguised signaling peptides

December 15, 2014 11:42 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

When someone you know is wearing an unfamiliar hat, you might not recognize them. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are using just such a disguise to sneak biomaterials containing peptide signaling molecules into living animals. When the disguised peptides are needed to launch biological processes, the researchers shine ultraviolet light onto the molecules through the skin, causing the "hat" structures to come off.

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