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The Lead

How cancer turns good cells to the dark side

January 26, 2015 8:38 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Cancer uses a little-understood element of cell signaling to hijack the communication process and spread, according to Rice Univ. researchers. A new computational study by researchers at the Rice-based Center for Theoretical Biological Physics shows how cancer cells take advantage of the system by which cells communicate with their neighbors as they pass messages to “be like me” or “be not like me.”

Trust your gut

January 23, 2015 9:01 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

E. coli usually brings to mind food poisoning and beach closures, but researchers...

Rare neurological disease shines light on health of essential nerve cells

January 23, 2015 8:35 am | by David Tennebaum, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Ian Duncan is a Scotsman with the iron discipline and stamina of a competitive marathoner,...

Pictured together for the first time: A chemokine and its receptor

January 23, 2015 8:12 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Researchers report the first crystal structure of the cellular receptor CXCR4 bound to an immune...

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Advances in PCR Improve Health of Animal Research Colonies

January 22, 2015 3:59 pm | by Ken Henderson, Director of R&D, Charles River Laboratories, Wilmington, Mass. | Articles | Comments

Reducing the use of laboratory animals has been a long-term goal in biological research. Many in vivo assays, like rabbit endotoxin testing or mouse antibody production testing to detect viral contaminants have largely been replaced by in vitro enzyme or PCR-based assays.

One dose, then surgery: A new way to test brain tumor drugs

January 22, 2015 1:18 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Lori Simons took the bright orange pill at 3 a.m. Eight hours later, doctors sliced into her brain, looking for signs that the drug was working. She is taking part in one of the most unusual cancer experiments in the nation. With special permission from the Food and Drug Administration and multiple drug companies, an Arizona hospital is testing medicines very early in development and never tried on brain tumors before.

Biological safety lock for genetically modified organisms

January 22, 2015 1:17 pm | by Stephanie Dutchen, Harvard Medical School | News | Comments

The creation of genetically modified and entirely synthetic organisms continues to generate excitement as well as worry. Such organisms are already churning out insulin and other drug ingredients, helping produce biofuels and teaching scientists about human disease. While the risks can be exaggerated to frightening effect, modified organisms do have the potential to upset natural ecosystems if they were to escape.

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Researchers reveal how the mundane can be meaningful, remembered

January 22, 2015 11:36 am | by James Devitt, New York Univ. | News | Comments

It’s not surprising that our memories of highly emotional events, such as 9/11 or the birth of a child, are quite strong. But can these events change our memories of the past? In a study published in Nature, New York Univ. researchers report that emotional learning can lead to the strengthening of older memories.

Toward a cocaine vaccine to help addicts kick the habit

January 22, 2015 8:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In their decades-long search for vaccines against drugs of abuse, scientists have hit upon a new approach to annul cocaine’s addictive buzz. They report in Molecular Pharmaceutics that their strategy, which they tested on mice, harnesses a bacterial protein to trigger an immune system attack on the drug if it enters the body. This response could dull cocaine’s psychotropic effects and potentially help users of the drug kick the habit.

Drug compounds show promise against endometriosis

January 22, 2015 8:15 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Two new drug compounds appear to be effective in treating endometriosis, a disorder that, like MS, is driven by estrogen and inflammation, scientists report in Science Translational Medicine. The researchers hope to eventually use the new compounds and others like them to treat a variety of disorders linked to estrogen signaling and inflammation.

New analysis explains collagen’s force

January 22, 2015 7:48 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Research combining experimental work and detailed molecular simulations has revealed, for the first time, the complex role that water plays in collagen. The new analysis reveals an important mechanism that had never been observed before: Adding even small amounts of water to, or removing water from, collagen in tendons can generate surprisingly strong forces, as much as 300 times stronger than the forces generated by muscles.

Study: DNA trick cripples bacteria that escape confinement

January 21, 2015 2:18 pm | by By Malcolm Ritter - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Bacteria have been modified so that they die if they get out of human control, a potential step toward better management of genetically engineered organisms—perhaps including crops, researchers say. Genetically altered microbes are used now in industry to produce fuels, medicines and other chemicals. The new technique might also reduce the risk of using them outdoors, such as for cleaning up toxic spills.

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Officials begin testing mystery gunk linked to bird deaths

January 21, 2015 2:18 pm | by By Kristin J. Bender - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

San Francisco Bay Area officials have begun laboratory tests and necropsies on dead seabirds found coated with a mysterious substance that looks and feels like dirty rubber cement. More than 125 dead birds have been found along the bay's shorelines, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

The ups and downs of the seemingly idle brain

January 21, 2015 9:24 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Even in its quietest moments, the brain is never “off.” Instead, while under anesthesia, during slow-wave sleep, or even amid calm wakefulness, the brain’s cortex maintains a cycle of activity and quiet called “up” and “down” states. A new study by Brown Univ. neuroscientists probed deep into this somewhat mysterious cycle in mice, to learn more about how the mammalian brain accomplishes it.

One nanoparticle, six types of medical imaging

January 21, 2015 8:22 am | by Charlotte Hsu, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It’s technology so advanced that the machine capable of using it doesn’t yet exist. Using two biocompatible parts, Univ. at Buffalo researchers and their colleagues have designed a nanoparticle that can be detected by six medical imaging techniques: computed tomography (CT) scanning, positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, photoacoustic imaging, fluorescence imaging, upconversion imaging and Cerenkov luminescence imaging.

Cancer-causing agent detected in water after pipeline spill

January 21, 2015 8:19 am | by By Matthew Brown - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Eastern Montana residents rushed to stock up on bottled water Tuesday after authorities detected a cancer-causing component of oil in public water supplies downstream of a Yellowstone River pipeline spill. Elevated levels of benzene were found in water samples from a treatment plant that serves about 6,000 people in the agricultural community of Glendive, near North Dakota.

Hearing-aid intervention helps individuals gradually adjust to devices

January 21, 2015 8:10 am | by Jesslyn Chew, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

When individuals wear their hearing aids for the first time, they are flooded with sounds they haven’t heard in months or years; yet, previous research has shown not all new sounds are welcomed. Ambient noises can be painful, irritating and difficult to ignore, causing some individuals to stop using their hearing aids right away. Now, a Univ. of Missouri researcher has developed an intervention.

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Snails produce weaponized insulin

January 20, 2015 11:06 am | by Joe Rojas-Burke, Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

As predators go, cone snails are slow moving and lack the typical fighting parts. They’ve made up for it by producing a vast array of fast-acting toxins that target the nervous systems of prey. A new study reveals that some cone snails add a weaponized form of insulin to the venom cocktail they use to disable fish.

New way to model sickle cell behavior

January 20, 2015 10:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Patients with sickle cell disease often suffer from painful attacks known as vaso-occlusive crises, during which their sickle-shaped blood cells get stuck in tiny capillaries, depriving tissues of needed oxygen. Blood transfusions can sometimes prevent such attacks, but there are currently no good ways to predict when a vaso-occlusive crisis, which can last for several days, is imminent.

Wearable sensor clears path to long-term EKG, EMG monitoring

January 20, 2015 10:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new, wearable sensor that uses silver nanowires to monitor electrophysiological signals, such as electrocardiography (EKG) or electromyography (EMG). The new sensor is as accurate as the “wet electrode” sensors used in hospitals, but can be used for long-term monitoring and is more accurate than existing sensors when a patient is moving.

“Microcapsules” have potential to repair damage caused by osteoarthritis

January 20, 2015 8:29 am | by Queen Mary Univ. of London | News | Comments

A new “microcapsule” treatment delivery method developed by researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London could reduce inflammation in cartilage affected by osteoarthritis and reverse damage to tissue. A protein molecule called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), which occurs naturally in the body, is known to reduce inflammation and aid in the repair of damaged tissue.

Hydrogels deliver on blood-vessel growth

January 20, 2015 7:50 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have found the balance necessary to aid healing with high-tech hydrogel. The team created a new version of the hydrogel that can be injected into an internal wound and help it heal while slowly degrading as it is replaced by natural tissue. Hydrogels are used as a scaffold upon which cells can build tissue. The new hydrogel overcomes a host of issues that have kept them from reaching their potential to treat injuries.

New fibers can deliver many simultaneous stimuli

January 20, 2015 7:33 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

The human brain’s complexity makes it extremely challenging to study; not only because of its sheer size, but also because of the variety of signaling methods it uses simultaneously. Conventional neural probes are designed to record a single type of signaling, limiting the information that can be derived from the brain at any point in time. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have found a way to change that.

Flu vaccine 23% effective

January 16, 2015 2:04 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

As predicted, this year's flu vaccine is doing a pretty crummy job. It's only 23% effective, primarily because it doesn't include the bug that is making most people sick, according to a government study released today. That's one of the worst performances in the last decade, since U.S. health officials started routinely tracking how well vaccines work. In the best flu seasons, the vaccines were 50 to 60% effective.

First critical-care transport helicopter simulator for flight nurse training

January 16, 2015 1:51 pm | by Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

Acute care nurse practitioner students, specializing in flight nursing at Case Western Reserve Univ., will soon be training in the nation’s first state-of-the-art simulator built in an actual helicopter. The simulator creates the sense of treating critically injured patients from takeoff to landing. The helicopter simulator was installed at the university’s Cedar Avenue Service Center.

New genetic clues found in fragile X syndrome

January 16, 2015 1:40 pm | by Julia Evangelou Strait, Senior Medical Sciences Writer, Washington Univ., St. Louis | News | Comments

Scientists have gained new insight into fragile X syndrome by studying the case of a person without the disorder, but with two of its classic symptoms. In patients with fragile X, a key gene is completely disabled, eliminating a protein that regulates electrical signals in the brain and causing a host of behavioral, neurological and physical symptoms.

New “triggered-release” mechanism could improve drug delivery

January 16, 2015 11:58 am | by Tom Frew, International Press Officer, Univ. of Warwick | News | Comments

More efficient medical treatments could be developed thanks to a new method for triggering the rearrangement of chemical particles. The new method, developed at the Univ. of Warwick, uses two “parent” nanoparticles that are designed to interact only when in proximity to each other and trigger the release of drug molecules contained within both.

Study details link between inflammation and cancer

January 16, 2015 9:28 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology reveals one reason why people who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases such as colitis have a higher risk of mutations that cause cancer. The researchers also found that exposure to DNA-damaging chemicals after a bout of inflammation boosts these mutations even more, further increasing cancer risk.

Long-acting drug effectively prevents HIV-like infection in monkeys

January 16, 2015 9:15 am | by Zach Veilleux, The Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

A regime of anti-HIV drugs has the potential to protect against infection in the first place. But real life can interfere; the effectiveness of this prophylactic approach declines if the medications aren’t taken as prescribed. HIV researchers hope a new compound, known as cabotegravir, could make dosing easier for some because the drug would be administered by injection once every three months.

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