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Scientists uncover four-stranded elements of maize DNA

December 5, 2014 8:59 am | by Florida State Univ. | News | Comments

A team led by Florida State Univ. researchers has identified DNA elements in maize that could affect the expression of hundreds or thousands of genes. The team wanted to know if certain DNA structures such as the four-strand G-quadruplex (G4) DNA might exist throughout the genetic material of maize.

Ability of HIV to cause AIDS is slowing

December 3, 2014 10:02 am | by Oxford Univ. | News | Comments

The rapid evolution of HIV, which has allowed the virus to develop resistance to patients' natural immunity, is at the same time slowing the virus's ability to cause AIDS. The Oxford Univ.-led study also indicates that people infected by HIV are likely to progress to AIDS more slowly—in other words the virus becomes less “virulent”—because of widespread access to antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Cancer uses abdominal stem cells to fuel growth, metastasis

December 3, 2014 9:08 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

New research from Rice Univ. and the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center shows how ovarian tumors co-opt a specific type of adult stem cell from abdominal tissues to fuel their growth. The research, published online in Cancer Research, suggests a new way to target aggressive ovarian cancers by disrupting the metabolic processes that allow them to thrive.

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Computer model enables design of complex DNA shapes

December 3, 2014 8:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Biological engineers have created a new computer model that allows them to design the most complex 3-D DNA shapes ever produced, including rings, bowls and geometric structures such as icosahedrons that resemble viral particles. This design program could allow researchers to build DNA scaffolds to anchor arrays of proteins and light-sensitive molecules called chromophores that mimic the photosynthetic proteins found in plant cells.

Different species share a “genetic toolkit” for behavioral traits

December 2, 2014 8:44 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

The house mouse, stickleback fish and honey bee appear to have little in common, but at the genetic level these creatures respond in strikingly similar ways to danger, researchers report. When any of these animals confronts an intruder, the researchers found, many of the same genes and brain gene networks gear up or down in response.

Exploring cells in 3-D

December 2, 2014 8:12 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Researchers can now explore viruses, bacteria and components of the human body in more detail than ever before with software developed at The Scripps Research Institute. In a study published online in Nature Methods, the researchers demonstrated how the software, called cellPACK, can be used to model viruses such as HIV.

Protein predicts response to new immunotherapy drug

December 1, 2014 11:00 am | by Vicky Agnew, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The presence of an immune-suppressing protein in non-cancerous immune cells may predict how patients with different types of cancer respond to treatment, a multi-center phase I study using an investigational immune therapy drug has found. The trial included patients with melanoma or cancers of the lung, kidney, colon, GI tract, or head and neck, whose tumors were evaluated for PD-L1 expression by a novel assay.

Researchers discover "pre-cancers" in blood

November 26, 2014 6:00 pm | by By Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Many older people silently harbor a blood "pre-cancer"—a gene mutation acquired during their lifetime that could start them on the path to leukemia, lymphoma or other blood disease, scientists have discovered. It opens a new frontier on early detection and possibly someday preventing these cancers, which become more common with age.

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Fast, low-cost DNA sequencing technology one step closer to reality

November 26, 2014 8:19 am | by Joe Caspermeyer, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

A team of scientists from Arizona State Univ.’s Biodesign Institute and IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center have developed a prototype DNA reader that could make whole genome profiling an everyday practice in medicine. Such technology could help usher in the age of personalized medicine, where information from an individual’s complete DNA and protein profiles could be used to design treatments specific to their individual makeup.

How turkeys may be lifesavers

November 25, 2014 4:51 pm | by Todd Hollingshead, Brigham Young Univ. | News | Comments

While the turkey you eat on Thursday will bring your stomach happiness and could probably kick-start an afternoon nap, it may also save your life one day. That’s because the biological machinery needed to produce a potentially life-saving antibiotic is found in turkeys. Looks like there is one more reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving.

Doctor behind "free radical" aging theory dies

November 25, 2014 2:02 pm | by By Josh Funk - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed the most widely accepted theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98. Harman, who worked into his mid-90s at the Univ. of Nebraska Medical Center died after a brief illness at a hospital in Omaha.

Angiogenesis drug could provide treatment for TB

November 25, 2014 9:27 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

The body responds to tuberculosis infection by locking the bacterial offenders into tiny clusters of immune cells called granulomas, which are a hallmark of the disease. This containment strategy succeeds at first, but eventually the bacteria manage to break out of these intercellular jails and spread throughout the body.

Pain in a dish

November 25, 2014 9:11 am | by Harvard Stem Cell Institute | News | Comments

After more than six years of intensive effort, and repeated failures that made the quest at times seem futile, Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard’s Dept. of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology have successfully converted mouse and human skin cells into pain-sensing neurons that respond to a number of stimuli that cause acute and inflammatory pain.

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Device could make large biological circuits practical

November 25, 2014 7:59 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have made great progress in recent years in the design and creation of biological circuits: systems that, like electronic circuits, can take a number of different inputs and deliver a particular kind of output. But while individual components of such biological circuits can have precise and predictable responses, those outcomes become less predictable as more such elements are combined.

Brain’s reaction to virtual reality

November 25, 2014 7:42 am | by Stuart Wolpert, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Los Angeles neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes.

Cell’s skeleton is never still

November 24, 2014 11:23 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

New computer models that show how microtubules age are the first to match experimental results and help explain the dynamic processes behind an essential component of every living cell, according to Rice Univ. scientists. The results could help scientists fine-tune medications that manipulate microtubules to treat cancer and other diseases. 

Bee brains offer insights into how human memories form

November 24, 2014 9:46 am | by Univ. of Queensland | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered that genes switch off as memories are being formed, allowing for new connections between nerve cells. The discovery could eventually lead to a key for treating conditions such as autism and dementia. Researchers studying honeybees during learning activities have shown that memory management in the bee brain is controlled by small genetic elements called microRNAs that help regulate gene expression.

Life’s extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs

November 24, 2014 9:29 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | News | Comments

One of the most mysterious forms of life may turn out to be a rich and untapped source of antibacterial drugs. The mysterious life form is Archaea, a family of single-celled organisms that thrive in environments like boiling hydrothermal pools and smoking deep sea vents which are too extreme for most other species to survive.

For important tumor-suppressing protein, context is key

November 24, 2014 8:19 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have learned new details about how an important tumor-suppressing protein, called p53, binds to the human genome. As with many things in life, they found that context makes a big difference. The researchers mapped the places where p53 binds to the genome in a human cancer cell line.

How mutant gene causes deafness

November 21, 2014 9:47 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered how one gene is essential to hearing, uncovering a cause of deafness and suggesting new avenues for therapies. The new study, published in Neuron, shows how mutations in a gene called Tmie can cause deafness from birth. Underlining the critical nature of their findings, researchers were able to reintroduce the gene in mice and restore the process underpinning hearing.

Biomarker could provide early warning of kidney disease in cats

November 21, 2014 8:27 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from Oregon State Univ. and other institutions have developed a new biomarker called “SDMA” that can provide earlier identification of chronic kidney disease in cats, which is one of the leading causes of their death. A new test based on this biomarker, when commercialized, should help pet owners and their veterinarians watch for this problem through periodic checkups, and treat it with diet or other therapies.

Researchers create first inhibitor for enzyme linked to certain cancers

November 21, 2014 7:49 am | by Univ. of California, Irvine | News | Comments

Recent studies showing acid ceramidase (AC) to be upregulated in melanoma, lung and prostate cancers have made the enzyme a desired target for novel synthetic inhibitor compounds. In Angewandte Chemie, scientists with the Univ. of California, Irvine School of Medicine and the Italian Institute of Technology describe the very first class of AC inhibitors that may aid in the efficacy of chemotherapies.

Unique sense of “touch” gives a prolific bacterium its ability to infect anything

November 20, 2014 8:49 am | by Morgan Kelly, Office of Communications, Princeton Univ. | Videos | Comments

New research has found that one of the world's most prolific bacteria manages to afflict humans, animals and even plants by way of a mechanism not before seen in any infectious microorganism—a sense of touch. This unique ability helps make the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ubiquitous, but it also might leave these antibiotic-resistant organisms vulnerable to a new form of treatment.

Immune system surprise hints at new strategy for fighting HIV

November 19, 2014 10:53 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The discovery of the innate immunity system’s role in mobilizing the body’s defenses against invading microorganisms has been long studied at Yale Univ. Now in Nature Immunology, Yale researchers have discovered a surprising twist to the story that may open a new avenue in the fight against HIV.

Biochemists build largest synthetic molecular “cage” ever

November 19, 2014 10:26 am | by Stuart Wolpert, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Los Angeles biochemists have created the largest-ever protein that self-assembles into a molecular “cage.” The research could lead to synthetic vaccines that protect people from the flu, HIV and other diseases. At a size hundreds of times smaller than a human cell, it also could lead to new methods of delivering pharmaceuticals inside of cells, or to the creation of new nanoscale materials.

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