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Genomics & Proteomics
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The shadow of a disease

September 15, 2014 8:45 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed an optical method that makes individual proteins, such as the proteins characteristic of some cancers, visible. Other methods that achieve this only work if the target biomolecules have first been labeled with fluorescent tags, but this approach is very difficult. By contrast, the new method allows scientists to directly detect the scattered light of individual proteins via their shadows.

X-rays unlock a protein’s SWEET side

September 15, 2014 8:41 am | by Justin Breaux, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Sugar is a vital source of energy. Understanding just how sugar makes its way into the cell could lead to the design of better drugs for diabetes patients and an increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables farmers are able to grow. Stanford Univ. researchers have recently uncovered one of these "pathways” into the cell by piecing together proteins slightly wider than the diameter of a strand of spider silk.

New defense mechanism against viruses discovered

September 11, 2014 1:18 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered that a known quality control mechanism in human, animal and plant cells is active against viruses. They think this new form of a so-called “innate immune defense” might represent one of the oldest defense mechanisms against viruses in evolutionary history.

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Researchers create world’s largest DNA origami

September 11, 2014 9:35 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ., Duke Univ. and the Univ. of Copenhagen have created the world’s largest DNA origami, which are nanoscale constructions with applications ranging from biomedical research to nanoelectronics. DNA origami are self-assembling biochemical structures that are made up of two types of DNA.

A single evolutionary road may lead to Rome

September 9, 2014 12:03 pm | News | Comments

A well-known biologist once theorized that many roads led to Rome when it comes to two distantly related organisms evolving a similar trait. A new paper suggests that when it comes to evolving some traits, especially simple ones, there may be a shared gene, or one road, that’s the source.

Single cell smashes and rebuilds its own genome

September 9, 2014 10:59 am | by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Life can be so intricate and novel that even a single cell can pack a few surprises, according to a study led by Princeton Univ. researchers. The pond-dwelling, single-celled organism Oxytricha trifallax has the remarkable ability to break its own DNA into nearly a quarter-million pieces and rapidly reassemble those pieces when it's time to mate. The organism internally stores its genome as thousands of scrambled, encrypted gene pieces.

Fingerprinting cell metabolism points toward study of obesity, diabetes

September 9, 2014 7:38 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to use a new imaging platform to map lipid metabolism in living cells, discovering specifically where cholesterol is stored and pointing toward further studies in obesity, diabetes and longevity. The imaging approach makes it possible to not only quantify the storage of cholesterol, but also the "desaturation" and oxidation of lipids, which may reduce the ability of cells to use insulin.

Scientists apply biomedical technique to reveal changes in body of the ocean

September 9, 2014 7:33 am | News | Comments

For decades, doctors have developed methods to diagnose how different types of cells and systems in the body are functioning. Now scientists have adapted an emerging biomedical technique to study the vast body of the ocean. In recent work they have demonstrated that they can identify and measure proteins in the ocean, revealing how single-celled marine organisms and ocean ecosystems operate.

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Platelet-like particles augment natural blood clotting for treating trauma

September 8, 2014 8:23 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A new class of synthetic platelet-like particles could augment natural blood clotting for the emergency treatment of traumatic injuries. The clotting particles, which are based on soft and deformable hydrogel materials, are triggered by the same factor that initiates the body’s own clotting processes.

Shining light on brain circuits to study learning, memory

September 8, 2014 8:04 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley neuroscientists plan to use light to tweak the transmission of signals in the brain to learn more about how the mouse brain and presumably the human brain process information. Last month, the promising optogenetics research project was awarded one of 36 new $300,000, two-year grants from the National Science Foundation in support of the BRAIN Initiative.

Sequencing of fish reveals diverse molecular mechanisms underlying evolution

September 5, 2014 9:49 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers have sequenced the genomes and transcriptomes of five species of African cichlid fishes and uncovered a variety of features that enabled the fishes to thrive in new habitats and ecological niches within the Great Lakes of East Africa. The study helps explain the genetic basis for the incredible diversity among cichlid fishes and provides new information about vertebrate evolution.

The buzz on caffeine in coffee: A genetic quirk

September 4, 2014 2:57 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Scientists have woken up and smelled the coffee … and analyzed its DNA. More than 60 researchers from around the world mapped out the genetic instruction book of java. They found that what we love about coffee, the caffeine, is a genetic quirk and not related to the caffeine in chocolate or tea.

Scientists map protein in living bacterial cells

September 4, 2014 8:29 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have for the first time mapped the atomic structure of a protein within a living cell. The technique, which peered into cells with an x-ray laser, could allow scientists to explore some components of living cells as never before.

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Cellular RNA can template DNA repair in yeast

September 4, 2014 7:54 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The ability to accurately repair DNA damaged by spontaneous errors, oxidation or mutagens is crucial to the survival of cells. This repair is normally accomplished by using an identical or homologous intact sequence of DNA, but scientists have now shown that RNA produced within cells of a common budding yeast can serve as a template for repairing the most devastating DNA damage—a break in both strands of a DNA helix.

A new synthetic amino acid for an emerging class of drugs

September 3, 2014 1:01 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a new amino acid that can be used to modify the 3-D structure of therapeutic peptides. Insertion of the amino acid into bioactive peptides enhanced their binding affinity up to 40-fold. Peptides with the new amino acid could potentially become a new class of therapeutics.

A “clear” choice for clearing 3-D cell cultures

September 3, 2014 11:40 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Because Brown Univ. biomedical engineering graduate student Molly Boutin needed to study how neural tissues grow from stem cells, she wanted to grow not just a cell culture, but a sphere-shaped one. Cells grow and interact more naturally in 3-D cultures than when they’re confined to thin slides or dishes.

Scientists make diseased cells synthesize their own drug

September 3, 2014 8:34 am | News | Comments

In a new study that could ultimately lead to many new medicines, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing sites for molecules that can treat a form of muscular dystrophy.

Sabotage as therapy

September 3, 2014 8:00 am | by Vicky Agnew, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Cancer Center researchers may have discovered a new way of harnessing lupus antibodies to sabotage cancer cells made vulnerable by deficient DNA repair. The study found that cancer cells with deficient DNA repair mechanisms (or the inability to repair their own genetic damage) were significantly more vulnerable to attack by lupus antibodies.

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.

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.

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.

Encyclopedia of how genomes function gets much bigger

August 28, 2014 9:07 am | News | Comments

A big step in understanding the human genome has been unveiled in the form of three analyses that provide the most detailed comparison yet of how the genomes of the fruit fly, roundworm, and human function. The research compares how the information encoded in the three species’ genomes is “read out,” and how their DNA and proteins are organized into chromosomes. The results add billions of entries to the archive of functional genomic data.

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.

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