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The Lead

Disrupted biological clock linked to Alzheimer’s disease

March 27, 2015 11:58 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

New research has identified some of the processes by which molecules associated with neurological diseases can disrupt the biological clock, interfere with sleep and activity patterns and set the stage for a spiral of health concerns that can include a decreased lifespan and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers master gene editing technique in mosquito that transmits deadly diseases

March 27, 2015 11:09 am | by Zach Veilleux, Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Traditionally, to understand how a gene functions, a scientist would breed an organism that...

HIV can lodge quickly in brain after infection

March 27, 2015 10:29 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

HIV can establish itself in the brain as soon as four months after initial infection; a finding...

MRI based on sugar molecule can tell cancerous from noncancerous cells

March 27, 2015 8:32 am | by Shawna Williams, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Imaging tests like mammograms or CT scans can detect tumors, but figuring out whether a growth...

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Big data allows computer engineers to find genetic clues in humans

March 27, 2015 8:26 am | by Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

Big data: It's a term we read and hear about often, but is hard to grasp. Computer scientists at Washington Univ. in St. Louis tackled some big data about an important protein and discovered its connection in human history as well as clues about its role in complex neurological diseases.

FDA to scrutinize unproven alternative remedies

March 26, 2015 12:05 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal officials plan to review the safety and evidence behind alternative remedies like Zicam and Cold-Eeze, products that are protected by federal law, but not accepted by mainstream medicine. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will hold a two-day meeting next month on regulations for homeopathic medicines, which have long occupied a place on the fringes of U.S. health care.

Protein shake-up

March 26, 2015 10:47 am | by Chris Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

For living organisms proteins are an essential part of their body system and are needed to thrive. In recent years, a certain class of proteins has challenged researchers’ conventional notion that proteins have a static and well-defined structure. It’s thought that mutations in these proteins, known as intrinsically disordered proteins, are associated with neurodegenerative changes, cardiovascular disorders and diseases like cancer.

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New pox discovered in Eastern Europe, but not deadly

March 25, 2015 6:06 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Health officials have discovered a new germ in Eastern Europe that is related to the dreaded smallpox and monkeypox viruses but so far seems far less threatening. The germ caused two cattle herders to suffer fever, swollen lymph nodes and painful boils on their hands and arms in 2013.

Science, patients driving rare disease drug research surge

March 25, 2015 12:10 pm | by Linda A. Johnson, AP Business Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The global pharmaceutical industry is pouring billions of dollars into developing treatments for rare diseases, which once drew little interest from major drugmakers but now point the way toward a new era of innovative therapies and big profits. The investments come as researchers harness recent scientific advances.

Researchers find promising new biomarkers for concussion

March 25, 2015 10:50 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By looking at the molecular aftermath of concussion in an unusual way, a team of researchers at Brown Univ. and the Lifespan health system has developed a candidate panel of blood biomarkers that can accurately signal mild traumatic brain injury within hours using standard, widely available lab arrays. The results appear in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain

March 25, 2015 10:33 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Carbon nanotube fibers invented at Rice Univ. may provide a way to communicate directly with the brain. The fibers have proven superior to metal electrodes for deep brain stimulation and to read signals from a neuronal network. Because they provide a two-way connection, they show promise for treating patients with neurological disorders while monitoring the real-time response of neural circuits in areas that control movement and mood.

Turn the light on

March 25, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

In the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop, a potentially powerful new tool could soon be available. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation.

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New technique paints tissue samples with light

March 24, 2015 3:48 pm | by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

One infrared scan can give pathologists a window into the structures and molecules inside tissues and cells, enabling fast and broad diagnostic assessments, thanks to an imaging technique developed by University of Illinois researchers and clinical partners.

Milk may be good for your brain

March 24, 2015 10:30 am | by University of Kansas Medical Center | News | Comments

New research conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center has found a correlation between milk consumption and the levels of a naturally-occurring antioxidant called glutathione in the brain in older, healthy adults.

Brain tumor cells decimated by mitochondrial 'smart bomb'

March 24, 2015 10:25 am | by Houston Methodist | News | Comments

An experimental drug that attacks brain tumor tissue by crippling the cells' energy source called the mitochondria has passed early tests in animal models and human tissue cultures, say Houston Methodist scientists.

Scientists coax stem cells to form 3-D mini lungs

March 24, 2015 10:17 am | by University of Michigan Health System | News | Comments

Scientists have coaxed stem cells to grow the first three-dimensional mini lungs. Previous research has focused on deriving lung tissue from flat cell systems or growing cells onto scaffolds made from donated organs.

Catching and releasing tiny molecules

March 23, 2015 1:47 pm | by Paul Karoff, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Employing an ingenious microfluidic design that combines chemical and mechanical properties, a team of Harvard Univ. scientists has demonstrated a new way of detecting and extracting biomolecules from fluid mixtures. The approach requires fewer steps, uses less energy, and achieves better performance than several techniques currently in use and could lead to better technologies for medical diagnostics and chemical purification.

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Air pollutants could boost potency of common airborne allergens

March 23, 2015 11:43 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

A pair of air pollutants linked to climate change could also be a major contributor to the unparalleled rise in the number of people sneezing and wheezing during allergy season. The gases, nitrogen dioxide and ground-level ozone, appear to provoke chemical changes in certain airborne allergens that could increase their potency. That, in combination with changes in global climate, could explain why airborne allergies are more common.

Genomewide screen of learning in zebrafish identifies enzyme important in neural circuit

March 23, 2015 11:37 am | by Karen Kreeger, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania describe the first set of genes important in learning in a zebrafish model in Neuron. Using in-depth analysis of one of the genes, the team has revealed an important signaling pathway. According to the researchers, the proteins in this pathway could provide new insights into the development of novel pharmacological targets.

Even at a molecular level, taking it slow helps to cope with stress

March 23, 2015 10:08 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley, scientists have identified a new molecular pathway critical to aging, and confirmed that the process can be manipulated to help make old blood like new again. The researchers found that blood stem cells’ ability to repair damage caused by inappropriate protein folding in the mitochondria, a cell’s energy station, is critical to their survival and regenerative capacity.

Artificial sweetener could lead to new treatments for aggressive cancers

March 23, 2015 9:58 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Saccharin, the artificial sweetener that is the main ingredient in Sweet 'N Low, Sweet Twin and Necta, could do far more than just keep our waistlines trim. According to new research, this popular sugar substitute could potentially lead to the development of drugs capable of combating aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancers with fewer side effects.

Squid-inspired invisibility stickers to protect soldiers

March 23, 2015 8:21 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Squid are the ultimate camouflage artists, blending almost flawlessly with their backgrounds so that unsuspecting prey can't detect them. Using a protein that's key to this process, scientists have designed "invisibility stickers" that could one day help soldiers disguise themselves, even when sought by enemies with tough-to-fool infrared cameras.

FDA approves genetically engineered potatoes, apples

March 20, 2015 2:06 pm | by Mary Clare Jalonick And Keith Ridler, Associated Press | News | Comments

Potatoes that won't bruise and apples that won't brown are a step closer to U.S. grocery store aisles. The federal Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the genetically engineered foods, saying they are "as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts."

Bioinformatics tool for metagenome analysis

March 20, 2015 10:07 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new method for DNA analysis of microbial communities such as those found in the ocean, the soil and our own guts. Metagenomics is the study of entire microbial communities using genomics.

Mapping redox switches in cyanobacteria advances use as biofuel

March 20, 2015 8:19 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Chemical reactions involving reduction and oxidation, or redox, play a key role in regulating photosynthesis in plants and metabolism in animals and humans, keeping things running on an even keel. Now, in a recently published study, a team of scientists shed light on the role redox plays in cyanobacteria, tiny organisms with the potential to produce a lot of energy.

Sense of smell may reveal weight bias

March 19, 2015 2:46 pm | by Rebecca Kendall, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Could our reaction to an image of an overweight or obese person affect how we perceive odor? A trio of researchers, including two from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles, says yes. The researchers discovered that visual cues associated with overweight or obese people can influence one’s sense of smell, and that the perceiver’s body mass index matters, too.

Spot treatment

March 19, 2015 1:41 pm | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

Acne, a scourge of adolescence, may be about to meet its ultra-high-tech match. By using a combination of ultrasound, gold-covered particles and lasers, researchers from Univ. of California, Santa Barbara and Sebacia have developed a targeted therapy that could potentially lessen the frequency and intensity of breakouts, relieving acne sufferers the discomfort and stress of dealing with severe and recurring pimples.

Molecule pinpointed that controls stem cell plasticity

March 19, 2015 9:15 am | by Zach Veilleux, Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Stem cells can have a strong sense of identity. Taken out of their home in the hair follicle, and grown in culture, these cells remain true to themselves. After waiting in limbo, these cultured cells become capable of regenerating follicles and other skin structures once transplanted back into skin. It’s not clear just how these stem cells retain their ability to produce new tissue and heal wounds, even under extraordinary conditions.

Green tea could improve MRIs

March 19, 2015 8:29 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Green tea’s popularity has grown quickly in recent years. Its fans can drink it, enjoy its flavor in their ice cream and slather it on their skin with lotions infused with it. Now, the tea could have a new, unexpected role—to improve the image quality of MRIs. Scientists report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces that they successfully used compounds from green tea to help image cancer tumors in mice.

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