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Plant cell structure discovery could lead to improved renewable materials

April 10, 2015 12:07 pm | by Univ. of Warwick | News | Comments

The step forward follows research by the Univs. of Warwick and Cambridge and the unexpected discovery of a previously unknown arrangement of molecules in plant cell walls. The researchers investigated the polymer xylan, which comprises a third of wood matter.

Bacteria tracked feeding nitrogen to nutrient-starved plants

April 10, 2015 11:19 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

With rising populations and changing climate conditions, the need for resilient and reliable crops has never been greater. Nitrogen, an essential element for plant growth, is often woefully absent in heavily farmed land. Earth’s atmosphere offers an overabundance of nitrogen, but how can it be safely and sustainably transferred into the soil? Nitrogen-eating bacteria may be the answer.

Researchers deliver large particles into cells at high speed

April 9, 2015 12:06 pm | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A new device developed by Univ. of California, Los Angeles, engineers and doctors may eventually help scientists study the development of disease, enable them to capture improved images of the inside of cells and lead to other improvements in medical and biological research.

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Detecting lysosomal pH with fluorescent probes

April 9, 2015 11:51 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

Lysosomes are the garbage disposals of animal cells. As the resources are limited in cells, organic materials are broken down and recycled a lot; and that’s what lysosomes do. Detecting problems with lysosomes is the focus of a new set of fluorescent probes developed by researchers at Michigan Technological Univ.

A digital field guide to cancer cells

April 9, 2015 10:10 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are mapping the habits of cancer cells, turn by microscopic turn. Using advanced technology and an approach that merges engineering and medicine, a Yale Univ.-led team has compiled some of the most sophisticated data yet on the elaborate signaling networks directing highly invasive cancer cells. Think of it as a digital field guide for a deadly scourge.

Turning to freshwater sources to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis

April 9, 2015 8:17 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The discovery of antibiotics produced by soil fungi and bacteria gave the world life-saving medicine. But new antimicrobials from this resource have become scarce as the threat of drug resistance grows. Now, scientists have started mining lakes and rivers for potential pathogen-fighters, and they’ve found one from Lake Michigan that is effective against drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Self-assembling, bioinstructive collagen materials for research, medical applications

April 9, 2015 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. researcher and entrepreneur is commercializing her laboratory's innovative collagen formulations that self-assemble or polymerize to form fibrils that resemble those found in the body's tissues. These collagen building blocks can be used to create customized 3-D tissue and organs outside the body to support basic biological research, drug discovery and chemical toxicity testing.

Amniotic stem cells demonstrate healing potential

April 9, 2015 7:41 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are using stem cells from amniotic fluid to promote the growth of functional blood vessels in healing hydrogels. In new experiments, the scientists combined versatile amniotic stem cells with injectable hydrogels used as scaffolds in regenerative medicine and proved they enhance the development of vessels needed to bring blood to new tissue and carry waste products away.

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Biologists identify brain tumor weakness

April 9, 2015 7:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biologists have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors. The study found that a subset of glioblastoma tumor cells is dependent on a particular enzyme that breaks down the amino acid glycine. Without this enzyme, toxic metabolic byproducts build up inside the tumor cells, and they die.

Complex organic molecules discovered in infant star system: hints that prebiotic chemistry is universal

April 8, 2015 2:21 pm | by National Radio Astronomy Observatory | News | Comments

For the first time, astronomers have detected the presence of complex organic molecules, the building blocks of life, in a protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star, suggesting once again that the conditions that spawned our Earth and Sun are not unique in the universe.

Food for thought: Master protein enhances learning and memory

April 8, 2015 8:54 am | by The Salk Institute | News | Comments

Just as some people seem built to run marathons and have an easier time going for miles without tiring, others are born with a knack for memorizing things, from times tables to trivia facts. These two skills are not so different as it turns out. Salk scientists and collaborators have discovered that physical and mental activities rely on a single metabolic protein that controls the flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body.

Possible new RNA engineering tool

April 8, 2015 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A great deal of public attention in the past couple of years has been showered on complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas” for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA. Now, researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are reporting that CRISPR-Cas complexes could also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Spotting a molecular warhead for disease in the human gut

April 7, 2015 12:20 pm | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. scientists are using new chemical tools to identify and understand molecules in the human gut that alter DNA and regulate inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancers. In a recent article, researchers describe the chemical structures of 32 such molecules from the bacterial colibactin pathway, found in select strains of E. coli in the gut.

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Office inkjet printer could produce simple tool to identify infectious diseases

April 7, 2015 12:03 pm | by Michelle Donovan, McMaster Univ. | News | Comments

Consumers are one step closer to benefiting from packaging that could give simple text warnings when food is contaminated with deadly pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, and patients could soon receive real-time diagnoses of infections such as C. difficile right in their doctors' offices, saving critical time and trips to the lab.

Study hints at spontaneous appearance of primordial DNA

April 7, 2015 10:51 am | by Jim Scott, CU-Boulder Media Relations | News | Comments

The self-organization properties of DNA-like molecular fragments four billion years ago may have guided their own growth into repeating chemical chains long enough to act as a basis for primitive life, says a new study by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder and the Univ. of Milan.

Sound separates cancer cells from blood samples

April 7, 2015 8:26 am | by A’ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers from Penn State Univ.

How do you feel? Video of your face may tell all

April 7, 2015 7:42 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers are developing a highly accurate, touch-free system that uses a video camera to monitor patients’ vital signs just by looking at their faces. The technique isn’t new, but engineering researchers in Rice’s Scalable Health Initiative are making it work under conditions that have so far stumped earlier systems.

Cancer genes turned off in deadly brain cancer

April 6, 2015 10:55 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified a small RNA molecule called miR-182 that can suppress cancer-causing genes in mice with glioblastoma mulitforme (GBM), a deadly and incurable type of brain tumor. While standard chemotherapy drugs damage DNA to stop cancer cells from reproducing, the new method stops the source that creates those cancer cells: genes that are overexpressing certain proteins.

Cells exercise suboptimal strategy to survive

April 6, 2015 10:42 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

There are few times in life when one should aim for suboptimal performance, but new research at Rice Univ. suggests scientists who study metabolism and its role in evolution should look for signs of just that. A study published in BMC Systems Biology details a computational method called corsoFBA.

Calico licenses technology from acclaimed UCSF laboratory

April 2, 2015 3:27 pm | by USCF | News | Comments

Calico, a company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase understanding of the biology that controls human lifespan, and UC San Francisco have partnered on an innovative project to develop potential therapies for cognitive decline.

Electroconvulsive therapy changes key areas of the brain that play roles in memory and emotion

April 2, 2015 3:18 pm | by UCLA | News | Comments

Scientists know that depression affects the brain, but they still don’t know why some people respond to treatment and others do not. Now UCLA researchers have shown for the first time in a large cohort of patients that electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, changes certain areas of the brain that play a role in how people feel, learn and respond to positive and negative environmental factors.

“Open” stem cell chromosomes reveal new possibilities for diabetes

April 2, 2015 12:08 pm | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Stem cells hold great promise for treating a number of diseases, in part because they have the unique ability to differentiate, specializing into any one of the hundreds of cell types that comprise the human body. Harnessing this potential, though, is difficult.

Protein determines life or death fate of stressed cells

April 2, 2015 10:30 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers discovered a new protein involved in the process that determines the fate of cells under stress and whether they fight to survive or sacrifice themselves for the greater good. A protein named HYPE orchestrates a response to misfolded proteins within the cell, mistakes which increase when a cell is under stress from disease or injury.

How a rare form a liver cancer arises

April 2, 2015 10:20 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the 1970s, epidemiologists found that workers in factories using vinyl chloride had unusually high rates of a rare form of liver cancer called angiosarcoma. Biologists later identified a mutation that appears to be associated with this cancer, which originates in cells of the blood vessels that feed the liver.

New insecticide class offers safer, more targeted mosquito control

April 2, 2015 7:37 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have identified a new class of chemical insecticides that could provide a safer, more selective means of controlling mosquitoes that transmit key infectious diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and elephantiasis. Known as dopamine receptor antagonists, the chemicals beat out the neurotransmitter dopamine to lock into protein receptors that span the mosquito cell membrane.

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