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Stem cells take initial step toward development in the lab

June 2, 2014 8:02 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. It is the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory.

Gold nanoparticles unlock genetic profiles

May 30, 2014 8:47 am | News | Comments

A fast and cost-effective genetic test to determine the correct dosage of blood thinning drugs for the treatment of stroke, heart problems and deep vein thrombosis has been developed by researchers in Singapore. The new test, which uses gold nanoparticles mixed with DNA samples in solution, can quickly recognize three of the most common genetic variations associated with warfarin response.

A tool to better screen, treat aneurysm patients

May 30, 2014 8:26 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

New research by an international consortium may help physicians better understand the chronological development of a brain aneurysm. Using radiocarbon dating to date samples of ruptured and unruptured cerebral aneurysm tissue, the team, led by neurosurgeon Nima Etminan, found that the main structural constituent and protein—collagen type I—in cerebral aneurysms is distinctly younger than once thought.

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Engineering a better way to rebuild bone inside the body

May 30, 2014 8:05 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Traumatic bone injuries are often so severe that the body can’t effectively repair the damage on its own. To aid the recovery, clinicians inject patients with growth factors. The treatment is costly, requiring large amounts of expensive growth factors. The growth factors also disperse, creating unwanted bone formation around the injury. A new technology could provide more efficient delivery of the bone regenerating growth factors.

Hitchhiking nanotubes show how cells stir themselves

May 30, 2014 7:50 am | Videos | Comments

A team of researchers has successfully tracked single molecules inside living cells with carbon nanotubes. Through this new method, the researchers found that cells stir their interiors using the same motor proteins that serve in muscle contraction. The study, which sheds new light on biological transport mechanisms in cells, appears in Science.

Researchers use light to coax stem cells to repair teeth

May 29, 2014 11:11 am | by Kristen Kusek, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A Harvard Univ.-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue, an advance they reported in Science Translational Medicine. The research lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration and more.

Sneaky bacteria change key protein’s shape to escape detection

May 28, 2014 10:23 am | News | Comments

Every once in a while in the U.S., bacterial meningitis seems to crop up out of nowhere, claiming a young life. Part of the disease’s danger is the ability of the bacteria to evade the body’s immune system, but scientists are now figuring out how the pathogen hides in plain sight. Their findings, which could help defeat these bacteria and others like it, appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Cancer, bioelectrical signals and the microbiome connected

May 28, 2014 8:37 am | by Kim Thurler, Tufts Univ. | News | Comments

Developmental biologists at Tufts Univ., using a tadpole model, have shown that bioelectrical signals from distant cells control the incidence of tumors arising from cancer-causing genes and that this process is impacted by levels of a common fatty acid produced by bacteria found in the tadpole and also in humans. 

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HIV can cut and paste in the human genome

May 28, 2014 8:31 am | by Kirsten Olesen, Aarhus University | News | Comments

A new technology developed in Denmark uses the HIV virus as a tool in the fight against hereditary diseases and, in the long term, against HIV infection as well. The technology repairs the genome in a new and safer manner by using the virus as nanoparticles to manage the “cut and paste” approach to modifying the genome.

Kiwi DNA link spurs rethink of flightless birds

May 27, 2014 9:23 am | by Nick Perry, Associated Press | News | Comments

Research linking New Zealand's diminutive kiwi with a giant extinct bird from Africa is prompting scientists to rethink how flightless birds evolved. Instead, it's more likely their chicken-size, flight-capable ancestors enjoyed a window of evolutionary ascendancy about 60 million years ago, after dinosaurs died out and before mammals grew big. The study contradicts earlier theories about the evolution of flightless birds.

DNA nanotechnology places enzyme catalysis within an arm’s length

May 27, 2014 8:06 am | by Joe Caspermeyer, Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

Using molecules of DNA like an architectural scaffold, Arizona State Univ. scientists, in collaboration with colleagues at the Univ. of Michigan, have developed a 3-D artificial enzyme cascade that mimics an important biochemical pathway that could prove important for future biomedical and energy applications.

Relaxation helps pack DNA into a virus

May 27, 2014 7:57 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Taking a moment to pause and relax can help if you find yourself in a tight spot. This strategy can work for molecules as well as people, it turns out. Researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have found that DNA packs more easily into the tight confines of a virus when given a chance to relax.

New “wireless” nanotechnology to help study neurons

May 23, 2014 9:28 am | by Jim Fessenden, Univ. of Massachusetts | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Massachusetts will lead an international team of scientists in the development and implementation of a new optogenetic platform that can remotely activate neurons inside a free-moving organism. Using a new class of nanoparticles they propose to selectively turn on non-image forming photoreceptors inside mice and Drosophila, unencumbered by the fiber optic wires currently used in optogenetic technologies.

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How the anticancer drug Taxol works

May 23, 2014 8:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A pathway to the design of even more effective versions of the powerful anticancer drug Taxol has been opened with the most detailed look ever at the assembly and disassembly of microtubules, tiny fibers of tubulin protein that form the cytoskeletons of living cells and play a crucial role in mitosis.

Researchers discover immune system’s rules of engagement

May 22, 2014 2:06 pm | News | Comments

A new study reveals how T cells, the immune system’s foot soldiers, respond to an enormous number of potential health threats. X-ray studies at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, combined with Stanford Univ. biological studies and computational analysis, revealed remarkable similarities in the structure of binding sites which allow a given T cell to recognize many different invaders that provoke an immune response.

Capillary device significantly improves manufacture of quality liposomes

May 22, 2014 9:29 am | News | Comments

Widespread application of manufactured liposomes as artificial drug carriers has been hindered by factors such as inconsistency in size, structural instability, and high production costs. Researchers have designed a new liposome production system from bundled capillary tubes. It costs less than a $1 to make, requires no special fabrication technology, and consistently yields large quantities of uniform and sturdy vesicles.

Researchers sequence genome of primitive termite

May 21, 2014 8:23 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

North Carolina State Univ. entomologists are part of a research team that has for the first time sequenced the genome of a member of the termite order, the dampwood termite (Zootermopsis nevadensis). The findings on the genetic blueprint of the dampwood termite, one of the world’s most primitive social insects, highlight key differences and similarities with other social insects and provide insight into how social insects evolved.

Bionic particles self-assemble to capture light

May 20, 2014 7:53 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Inspired by fictional cyborgs like Terminator, a team of researchers at the Univ. of Michigan and the Univ. of Pittsburgh has made the first bionic particles from semiconductors and proteins. These particles recreate the heart of the process that allows plants to turn sunlight into fuel.

Ultra-sensitive nanochip detects cancer early

May 19, 2014 1:02 pm | News | Comments

A new  “lab-on-a-chip” platform developed at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain is capable of detecting detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. The device, just a few square centimeters in size, uses recent advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.

Illuminating neuron activity in 3-D

May 19, 2014 10:34 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of Vienna have created an imaging system that reveals neural activity throughout the brains of living animals. This technique, the first that can generate 3-D movies of entire brains at the millisecond timescale, could help scientists discover how neuronal networks process sensory information and generate behavior.

Watching HIV bud from cells

May 19, 2014 8:09 am | by Lee J. Siegel, Science News Specialist, Univ. of Utah | Videos | Comments

Univ. of Utah researchers devised a way to watch newly forming AIDS virus particles emerging or “budding” from infected human cells without interfering with the process. The method shows a protein named ALIX gets involved during the final stages of virus replication, not earlier, as was believed previously.

Genetic study helps resolve speculation about first people in the Americas

May 19, 2014 7:45 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

A new study could help resolve a longstanding debate about the origins of the first people to inhabit the Americas, researchers report in Science. The study relies on genetic information extracted from the tooth of an adolescent girl who fell into a sinkhole in the Yucatan 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.

Interactions may matter most for longevity

May 16, 2014 9:42 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

If studying a single gene or a diet that might extend longevity is like searching for a fountain of youth, then a new study calls for looking at something more like the whole watershed. Brown Univ. biologists who experimentally throttled three such factors in fruit flies found that lifespan depended more on interactions among the factors than on the factors themselves.

Fighting Ebola virus disease: Transformer protein provides new insights

May 16, 2014 8:25 am | by Manuel Gnida, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

A new study reveals that a protein of the Ebola virus can transform into three distinct shapes, each with a separate function that is critical to the virus’s survival. Each shape offers a potential target for developing drugs against Ebola virus disease, a hemorrhagic fever that kills up to nine out of 10 infected patients in outbreaks such as the current one in West Africa.

DNA double helix measurements

May 15, 2014 12:40 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory and the London Centre for Nanotechnology have determined the structure of DNA from measurements on a single molecule using atomic force microscopy (AFM), and found significant variations in the well-known double helix.

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