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The Lead

Identifying the source of stem cells

October 30, 2014 3:14 pm | News | Comments

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammalian cells become the protective placenta or to commit to forming the baby. It’s during this critical first step that research from Michigan State Univ. has revealed key discoveries. The results provide insights into where stem cells come from, and could advance research in regenerative medicine.

Making lab-grown tissues stronger

October 30, 2014 3:09 pm | News | Comments

Cartilage, for example, is a hard material that caps the ends of bones and allows joints to work...

Heart’s own immune cells can help it heal

October 30, 2014 2:55 pm | by Julia Evangelou Strait, Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

The heart holds its own pool of immune cells capable of helping it heal after injury, according...

Are my muscular dystrophy drugs working?

October 30, 2014 8:25 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

People with muscular dystrophy could one day assess the effectiveness of their medication with...

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Afingen uses precision method to enhance plants

October 30, 2014 8:17 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Imagine being able to precisely control specific tissues of a plant to enhance desired traits without affecting the plant’s overall function. Thus a rubber tree could be manipulated to produce more natural latex. Trees grown for wood could be made with higher lignin content, making for stronger yet lighter-weight lumber.

Tiny nanopores make big impact

October 30, 2014 8:05 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

A team led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists has created a new kind of ion channel consisting of short carbon nanotubes, which can be inserted into synthetic bilayers and live cell membranes to form tiny pores that transport water, protons, small ions and DNA. These carbon nanotube “porins” have significant implications for future health care and bioengineering applications.

Nano ruffles in brain matter

October 29, 2014 12:37 pm | News | Comments

An accumulation of amyloid-beta proteins deposits called plaques is known to cause Alzheimer’s disease. One aspect of this illness that has not received much attention is which role the structure of the brain environment plays. Researchers have discovered that macromolecules like astrocytes provide well-defined physical cues in the form of ruffles that have a crucial role in promoting healthy interactions between cells in the hippocampus.

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Building the Next Generation of Raman

October 29, 2014 9:40 am | by Brian Davies, VP Marketing and Product Development, Chemical Analysis Div., Thermo Fisher Scientific | Thermo Fisher Scientific | Articles | Comments

Given today’s widespread use of Raman spectroscopy, it can be hard to believe Raman was a highly specialized analytical technique for most of its history. The technique’s potential was recognized from the beginning: When Raman scattering was first observed in 1928, it was widely believed to be one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century to date.

ECG on the run: Continuous surveillance of marathon athletes is feasible

October 29, 2014 9:40 am | News | Comments

The condition of an athlete's heart has for the first time been accurately monitored throughout the duration of a marathon race. The real-time monitoring was achieved by continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) surveillance and data transfer over a public mobile phone network. The new development allows instantaneous diagnosis of potentially fatal rhythm disorders.

Researchers prove mathematical models can predict cellular processes

October 29, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

A team led by Virginia Tech researchers studied cells found in breast and other types of connective tissue and discovered new information about cell transitions that take place during wound healing and cancer. They developed mathematical models to predict the dynamics of cell transitions, and by comparison gained new understanding of how a substance known as transforming growth factor triggers cell transformations.

Scientists discover exact receptor for DEET that repels mosquitoes

October 29, 2014 9:24 am | News | Comments

DEET has been the gold standard of insect repellents for more than six decades, and now researchers led by a Univ. of California, Davis, scientist have discovered the exact odorant receptor that repels them. They also have identified a plant defensive compound that might mimic DEET, a discovery that could pave the way for better and more affordable insect repellents.

Blood test may help to diagnose pancreatic cancer

October 29, 2014 9:16 am | News | Comments

Cancer researchers have found that a simple blood test might help diagnose pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease. In new research at Indiana Univ., scientists have found that several microRNAs, which are small RNA molecules, circulate at high levels in the blood of pancreatic cancer patients.

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Self-assembled membranes hint at biomedical applications

October 28, 2014 11:36 am | by David Lindley, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Techniques for self-assembling of molecules have grown increasingly sophisticated, but biological structures remain a challenge. Recently, scientists have used self-assembly under controlled conditions to create a membrane consisting of layers with distinctly different structures. At the Advanced Photon Source, the team has studied the structures and how they form, paving the way for hierarchical structures with biomedical applications.

Boosting biogasoline production in microbes

October 28, 2014 8:53 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the on-going effort to develop advanced biofuels as a clean, green and sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels, researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of Escherichia coli.

How we get the nitrogen we need

October 28, 2014 8:42 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Nitrogen is an essential component of all living systems, playing important roles in everything from proteins and nucleic acids to vitamins. It is the most abundant element in Earth's atmosphere and is literally all around us, but in its gaseous state, N2, it is inert and useless to most organisms.

“Sticky” ends start synthetic collagen growth

October 28, 2014 8:12 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have delivered a scientific one-two punch with a pair of papers that detail how synthetic collagen fibers self-assemble via their sticky ends. Collagen is the most common protein in mammals, a major component of bone and the fibrous tissues that support cells and hold organs together. Discovering its secrets may lead to better synthetic collagen for tissue engineering and cosmetic and reconstructive medicine.

New restrictions for those at high Ebola risk

October 27, 2014 6:30 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

U.S. health officials are recommending that people who are at highest risk for coming down with Ebola avoid commercial travel or attending large public gatherings, even if they have no symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the updated advice to state and local officials on Monday.

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How microbes build a powerful antibiotic

October 27, 2014 10:32 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers report in Nature that they have made a breakthrough in understanding how a powerful antibiotic agent is made in nature. Their discovery solves a decades-old mystery, and opens up new avenues of research into thousands of similar molecules, many of which are likely to be medically useful. 

Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics to Improve ROI

October 27, 2014 10:19 am | by Andy Wight, Director, Service Product Portfolio, Global Services, AB Sciex | Articles | Comments

As a laboratory technician or director, knowing the current status of your instrument or sample runs is critical for your laboratory’s operations and productivity. Through the rapid increase in machine-to-machine connectivity, real-time instrument monitoring services designed to offer visibility and remote control of these instruments has become an enabler in cost savings, efficiency gains, revenue opportunities and competitive advantage.

New dent in HIV-1’s armor

October 27, 2014 8:01 am | by The Salk Institute | Videos | Comments

Like a slumbering dragon, HIV can lay dormant in a person’s cells for years, evading medical treatments only to wake up and strike at a later time, quickly replicating itself and destroying the immune system. Scientists at the Salk Institute have uncovered a new protein that participates in active HIV replication. The new protein, called Ssu72, is part of a switch used to awaken HIV-1 from its slumber.

New hope in treating African sleeping sickness

October 27, 2014 7:53 am | by Joe O'Connell, Staff Writer, Northeastern Univ. | News | Comments

In early drug dis­covery, you need a starting point. In a new research paper pub­lished in PLOS-Neglected Trop­ical Dis­eases, a team of researchers present hun­dreds of such starting points for poten­tially treating Human African try­panoso­mi­asis, or sleeping sick­ness, a deadly dis­ease that affects thou­sands of people annually.

Governors back home quarantine for Ebola workers

October 27, 2014 3:28 am | by Frank Eltman - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The governors of New York and New Jersey are at odds with scientists over Ebola as they back 21-day quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa, while the nation's top infectious-disease expert warns that such restrictions are unnecessary and could discourage volunteers from aiding disease-ravaged countries.

New home test shakes up colon cancer screening

October 26, 2014 12:27 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Starting Monday, millions of people who have avoided colon cancer screening can get a new home test that's noninvasive and doesn't require the icky preparation most other methods do. The test is the first to look for cancer-related DNA in stool. But deciding whether to get it is a more complex choice than ads for "the breakthrough test ... that's as easy as going to the bathroom" make it seem.

Molecular beacons shine light on how cells "crawl"

October 24, 2014 12:40 pm | by Carol Clark, EScience Commons | News | Comments

Adherent cells, the kind that form the architecture of all multicellular organisms, are engineered with precise forces that allow them to move around and stick to things. When these cells are put into a petri dish with a variety of substrates they can sense the differences in the surfaces and they will “crawl” toward the stiffest one. Chemists have devised a method using DNA-based tension probes to measure and map these phenomena.

Implantable device remotely releases therapeutic drugs, on Earth or in orbit

October 24, 2014 10:28 am | News | Comments

Houston Methodist Research Institute scientists will receive about $1.25 million from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to develop an implantable, nanochannel device that delivers therapeutic drugs at a rate guided by remote control. The device's effectiveness will be tested aboard the International Space Station and on Earth's surface.

Multiphysics Brings Vaccines to the Developing World

October 24, 2014 10:22 am | by Laura Bowen, COMSOL | COMSOL, Inc. | Articles | Comments

In many areas of the developing world, there’s limited access to electricity, and many places have never had any type of power infrastructure. This presents a challenge for aid workers and doctors. In the recent past, vaccines that needed to be stored at cold, relatively constant temperatures couldn’t be taken into the remote areas where they were needed most.

Breaking the nano barrier

October 24, 2014 8:00 am | by New York Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at the New York Univ. Polytechnic School of Engineering have broken new ground in the development of proteins that form specialized fibers used in medicine and nanotechnology. For as long as scientists have been able to create new proteins that are capable of self-assembling into fibers, their work has taken place on the nanoscale. For the first time, this achievement has been realized on the microscale.

Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page

October 24, 2014 7:53 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | News | Comments

New achievements in synthetic biology, which will allow complex cellular recognition reactions to proceed outside of living cells, will dare scientists to dream big: There could one day be inexpensive, shippable and accurate test kits that use saliva or a drop of blood to identify specific disease or infection.

Researchers break the nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiber

October 23, 2014 1:06 pm | News | Comments

For as long as scientists have been able to create new proteins that are capable of self-assembling into fibers, scientists’ work has taken place on the nanoscale. For the first time, this achievement has been realized on the microscale, a leap of magnitude in size that presents significant new opportunities for using engineered protein fibers.

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