Terahertz (THz) radiation, a slice of the electromagnetic spectrum that occupies the middle ground between microwaves and infrared light, is rapidly finding important uses in medical diagnostics. Now, new research performed on lab-grown human skin suggests that short but powerful bursts of THz radiation may both cause DNA damage and increase the production of proteins that help the body fight cancer.
Rice University researchers have found a way to divide and modify enzymes to create what amounts to a genetic logic gate. The researchers have created a library of AND gates by mutating a protein from a bacterial virus. The well-understood protein known as T7 RNA polymerase (RNAP) is a strong driver of transcription in cells.
Predictability is often used synonymously with “boring,” as in that story or that outcome was so predictable. For practitioners of synthetic biology seeking to engineer valuable new microbes, however, predictability is the brass ring that must be captured. Researchers with the multi-institutional partnership known as BIOFAB have become the first to grab at least a portion of this ring by unveiling a package of public domain DNA sequences and statistical models that greatly increase the reliability and precision by which biological systems can be engineered.
Vaccines that employ weakened but live pathogens to trigger immune responses have inherent safety issues but Yale University researchers have developed a new trick to circumvent the problem—using bacteria’s own cellular mistakes to deliver a safe vaccine. The findings suggest new ways to create novel vaccines that effectively combat disease but can be tolerated by children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised who might be harmed by live vaccines.
Although they live in similarly extreme ecosystems at opposite ends of the world, Antarctic insects appear to employ entirely different methods at the genetic level to cope with extremely dry conditions than their counterparts that live north of the Arctic Circle. Aside from the significance of the specific discovery, the new finding shows how relatively new and developing scientific techniques, including genomics, are opening science in what was thought to be a relatively uniform, sterile environment.
In nature, the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens uses a type of natural nanowire, called pili, to transport electrons to remote iron particles or other microbes. The benefits of these wires could also be harnessed by humans for use in fuel cells or bioelectronics. A new study reveals that a core of aromatic amino acids are required to turn these hair-like appendages into functioning electron-carrying biological wires.
For hundreds of years, naturalists and scientists have identified new species based on an organism’s visible differences. But different species can often show little or no visible differences. Evolutionary biologists have recently combined traditional morphological tests with genetic techniques to distinguish these genetically different but outwardly similar organisms, which are dubbed “cryptic” species.
Can the length of strands of DNA in patients with heart disease predict their life expectancy? Researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, who studied the DNA of more than 3,500 patients with heart disease, say yes it can.
Protein activity is strictly regulated. Incorrect or poor protein regulation can lead to uncontrolled growth and thus cancer or chronic inflammation. Researchers in Switzerland have identified enzymes that can regulate the activity of medically important proteins. Their discovery enables these proteins to be manipulated very selectively, opening up new treatment methods.
Like the extraterrestrial creature in the movie Alien, the "extremophile" red alga Galdieria sulphuraria can survive brutal heat and resist the effects of toxins. Scientists were previously unsure of how a one-celled alga acquired such flexibility and resilience. But recently they made an unexpected discovery: Galdieria's genome shows clear signs of borrowing genes from its neighbors.
A research team with members and Canada and the United States have discovered that a "gateway" known to control the movement of molecules in and out of a cell's nucleus appears to play another critically important role. Its second job is the ability to control the structure of chromosomes and the DNA linked to those chromosomes. This impacts what genes produce or express.
A researcher has recently attempted to answer to an enigma in medical science: How are bacteria becoming more resistant to antibiotics? According to his theory, bacteria that are non-resistant to antibiotics acquire this resistance accidentally. This occurs because they take up the DNA of other bacteria that are resistant because of their exposure to stress.
Isolation of DNA from some organisms is a routine procedure. For example, you can buy a kit at your local pharmacy or grocery store that allows you to swab the inside of your cheek and send the sample for DNA sequencing. However, for other organisms, DNA extraction is much more problematic. Researchers at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, have developed a novel procedure that greatly simplifies genomic DNA isolation from cactus tissue.
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, including assistant professor Peter Chien, recently gained new insight into how protein synthesis and degradation help to regulate the delicate ballet of cell division. In particular, they reveal how two proteins shelter each other in “mutually assured cleanup” to insure that division goes smoothly and safely.
Building on earlier pioneering work by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, an international consortium of university researchers has produced the most comprehensive virtual reconstruction of human metabolism to date. Scientists could use the model, known as Recon 2, to identify causes of and new treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes and even psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
Defective viruses have genetic mutations or deletions that eliminate their essential viral functions. Thought for decades to be essentially garbage unrelated to the transmission of normal viruses, new research shows that they now appear able to play an important role in the spread of disease.
A homebrewed diagnostic mixture containing a single drop of blood, a dribble of water, and a dose of DNA powder with gold particles could mean rapid diagnosis and treatment of the world's leading diseases in the near future. The cocktail diagnostic is being developed at the University of Toronto and it involves the same technology used in over-the-counter pregnancy tests.
Communities of microbes within our bodies, called the "microbiome," are considered to be so crucial to our health that some consider it to be a complex "second genome." In a recently published report, scientists take an important step toward designing a uniform protocol for microbiome research that ensures proper controls and considerations for variations among people. By doing this, future researchers should be able to better assess how what we ingest, whether drugs or food, affects our bodies.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have achieved a major advance in understanding how genetic information is transcribed from DNA to RNA by providing the first step-by-step look at the biomolecular machinery that reads the human genome.
The University of Iowa recently offered an honors seminar on personal genetics in which students had the option of sending saliva samples so a testing company could use DNA to unlock some of their most personal health and family secrets. The class, taught at Iowa for the first time, is part of a growing movement in higher education to tackle the rapidly advancing field of personal genetics, which is revolutionizing medicine and raising difficult ethical and privacy questions.
Sample preparation workflows for mass spectrometric analysis that involve proteolysis are often labor intensive, time consuming, and user dependent. Typical proteomic workflows require enzymatic digestion, solid phase extraction, drying, and resuspension before the reversed phase liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis.
Systems biology holds tremendous promise for the future of science and medicine, but some have criticized the field's lack of practical solutions. Experts counsel patience, saying progress has been strong and is accelerating.
Stem cells have the unique ability to turn into any type of human cell, opening up all sorts of therapeutic possibilities for some of the world's incurable diseases and conditions. The problem facing scientists is how to encourage stem cells to turn into the particular type of cell required to treat a specific disease. But researchers at the University of Manchester have developed a web-like scaffold, coated with long-sugar molecules, that enhances stem cell cultures to do just this.
While studying a mutant strain of yeast, Purdue University researchers may have found a new target for drugs to combat cholesterol and fungal diseases.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a new way to accelerate a workhorse instrument that identifies proteins. The high-speed technique could help diagnose cancer sooner and point to new drugs for treating a wide range of conditions.