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Genes influence brain reaction to emotional information

May 8, 2015 11:31 am | by Jessica Werb, UBC Public Affairs | News | Comments

Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to new research by a UBC neuroscientist. The study, recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.

PTSD linked to accelerated aging

May 8, 2015 10:21 am | by Scott LaFee, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

In recent years, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning from conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. PTSD is associated with number of psychological maladies, among them chronic depression, anger, insomnia, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Sunny news for medicine

May 8, 2015 8:57 am | by Univ. of Western Australia | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered an extraordinary protein-cutting enzyme that has also evolved to glue proteins together, a finding that may be valuable in the production of therapeutic drugs. They found the unusual enzyme in an ordinary plant, the sunflower. The researchers have unraveled the manufacturing route sunflowers use to make a super-stable protein ring.

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Researchers develop custom artificial membranes

May 8, 2015 8:06 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Decorating the outside of cells like tiny antenna, a diverse community of sugar molecules acts like a telecommunications system, sending and receiving information, recognizing and responding to foreign molecules and neighboring cells. This sugar part of biomembranes is as crucial to health as DNA, but not much is known about it.

Ebola found in doctor's eye months after virus left blood

May 7, 2015 4:06 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

For the first time, Ebola has been discovered inside the eyes of a patient months after the virus was gone from his blood. The case concerns Dr. Ian Crozier, an American physician who caught Ebola in September while working in West Africa. He was treated at Emory Univ. in Atlanta and released when he was no longer contagious.

Potential painkiller provides longer lasting effects

May 7, 2015 1:40 pm | by Derek Thompson, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | News | Comments

Medications have long been used to treat pain caused by injury or chronic conditions. Unfortunately, most are short-term fixes or cause side effects that limit their use. Researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have discovered a new compound that offers longer lasting painkilling effects, and shows promise as an alternative to current anesthetics.

Sounding out scaffolds for eardrum replacement

May 7, 2015 10:18 am | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has created tiny, complex scaffolds that mimic the intricate network of collagen fibers that form the human eardrum. It is hoped the scaffolds can be used to replace eardrums when they become severely damaged, reducing the need for patients to have their own tissue used in reconstruction surgery.

Molecular homing beacon redirects human antibodies

May 7, 2015 8:28 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | Videos | Comments

With the threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens growing, new ideas to treat infections are sorely needed. Researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report preliminary success testing an entirely novel approach: tagging bacteria with a molecular “homing beacon” that attracts pre-existing antibodies to attack the pathogens.

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The next step in DNA computing

May 7, 2015 7:59 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Conventional silicon-based computing, which has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent decades, is pushing against its practical limits. DNA computing could help take the digital era to the next level. Scientists are now reporting progress toward that goal with the development of a novel DNA-based GPS.

A better way to build DNA scaffolds

May 6, 2015 12:47 pm | by Chris Chipello, McGill Univ. | Videos | Comments

Imagine taking strands of DNA and using it to build tiny structures that can deliver drugs to targets within the body or take electronic miniaturization to a whole new level. While it may still sound like science fiction to most of us, researchers have been piecing together and experimenting with DNA structures for decades.

A “super cool” way to deliver drugs

May 6, 2015 11:52 am | by George Hunka, American Friends of Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

Water, when cooled below 32 F, eventually freezes. But some substances, when they undergo a process called "rapid-freezing" or "supercooling," remain in liquid form. The supercooling phenomenon has been studied for its possible applications in a wide spectrum of fields. A new Tel Aviv Univ. study published in Scientific Reports is the first to break down the rules governing the complex process of crystallization through rapid-cooling.

Thermometer-like device could help diagnose heart attacks

May 6, 2015 10:33 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Diagnosing a heart attack can require multiple tests using expensive equipment. But not everyone has access to such techniques, especially in remote or low-income areas. Now scientists have developed a simple, thermometer-like device that could help doctors diagnose heart attacks with minimal materials and cost. The report on their approach appears in Analytical Chemistry.

Naked mole-rats’ anti-cancer gene

May 6, 2015 8:37 am | by Will Hoyles, Public Relations Manager, Queen Mary Univ. of London | News | Comments

Naked mole-rats are unusual in many ways as a result of adaptations to living underground, with extreme longevity and a lack of the normal signs of ageing. Their resistance to cancer has been linked to the production of a substance called high molecular mass hyaluronan (HMM-HA), and mutations in the HAS2 gene that produces it.

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Observed: The moment your mind changes

May 6, 2015 7:48 am | by Janet Rae-Dupree and Tom Abate, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. The findings result from experiments led by electrical engineering Prof. Krishna Shenoy, whose Stanford Univ. lab focuses on movement control and neural prostheses controlled by the user's brain.

Producing jet fuel compounds from fungus

May 6, 2015 7:36 am | by Tina Hilding, Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Washington State Univ. researchers have found a way to make jet fuel from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. The researchers hope the process leads to economically viable production of aviation biofuels in the next five years. The researchers used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

Proteomics identifies DNA repair toolbox

May 4, 2015 10:49 am | by Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry | News | Comments

During each cell division, more than 3.3 billion base pairs of genomic DNA have to be duplicated and segregated accurately to daughter cells. But what happens when the DNA template is damaged in such a way that the replication machinery gets stuck? To answer this question, a team of scientists have analyzed how the protein composition of the DNA replication machinery changes upon encountering damaged DNA.

“Freezing a bullet” to find clues to ribosome assembly process

May 4, 2015 8:00 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Ribosomes are vital to the function of all living cells. Using the genetic information from RNA, these ribosomes build proteins by linking amino acids together in a specific order. Scientists have known that these cellular machines are themselves made up of about 80 different proteins, called ribosomal proteins, along with several RNA molecules and that these components are added in a particular sequence to construct new ribosomes.

New research into health benefits of coffee

May 1, 2015 10:29 am | by Monash Univ. | News | Comments

New research has brought us closer to being able to understand the health benefits of coffee. Monash Univ. researchers, in collaboration with Italian coffee roasting company Illycaffè, have conducted the most comprehensive study to date on how free radicals and antioxidants behave during every stage of the coffee brewing process, from intact bean to coffee brew.

Practical gel that simply “clicks” for biomedical applications

May 1, 2015 10:17 am | by Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

If you opt to wear soft contact lenses, chances are you are using hydrogels on a daily basis. Made up of polymer chains that are able to absorb water, hydrogels used in contacts are flexible and allow oxygen to pass through the lenses, keeping eyes healthy. Hydrogels can be up to 99% water and as a result are similar in composition to human tissues.

Cellular sensing platform supports next-gen bioscience, biotech applications

May 1, 2015 8:25 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a novel cellular sensing platform that promises to expand the use of semiconductor technology in the development of next-generation bioscience and biotech applications. The research proposes and demonstrates the world’s first multi-modality cellular sensor arranged in a standard low-cost CMOS process.

The accelerator of the compact light source. Courtesy of Klaus Achterhold / TUM

Compact synchrotron makes tumors visible

April 30, 2015 11:39 am | by Technische Universität München | News | Comments

Soft tissue disorders like tumors are very difficult to recognize using normal X-ray machines. There is hardly any distinction between healthy tissue and tumors. Researchers at the Technische Universität München have now developed a technology using a compact synchrotron source that measures not only X-ray absorption, but also phase shifts and scattering. Tissue that is hardly recognizable using traditional X-ray machines is now visible.

Inflammatory immune cells can flip the genetic script

April 30, 2015 8:47 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A type of immune cell that promotes inflammation during the immune response, TH17, can convert into another type of cell that reduces inflammation, Yale Univ. researchers have found. The finding, published in Nature, points to a possible therapeutic strategy for inflammation-mediated diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Students use smarts for damaged hearts

April 30, 2015 8:23 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A smartphone app created by students at Rice Univ. may someday serve as the ultimate remote to help control the flow of blood through human hearts. The Flowtastic team of Rice senior engineering students created a combined software-hardware interface that works with an Android app to monitor and even control a high-tech pump that resides in the aorta and regulates the flow of blood.

Illuminating the dark zone

April 30, 2015 8:01 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

The human body is a cross between a factory and a construction zone; at least on the cellular level. Certain proteins act as project managers, which direct a wide variety of processes and determine the fate of the cell as a whole. One group of proteins called the WD-repeat (WDR) family helps a cell choose which of the thousands of possible gene products it should manufacture.

Genetic testing moves into world of employee health

April 29, 2015 2:07 pm | by Tom Murphy, AP Business Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Your employer may one day help determine if your genes are why your jeans have become too snug. Big companies are considering blending genetic testing with coaching on nutrition and exercise to help workers lose weight and improve their health before serious conditions like diabetes or heart disease develop.

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