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Common fracking chemicals no more toxic than household substances

November 12, 2014 4:15 pm | by Laura Snider, CU-Boulder Media Relations | News | Comments

The “surfactant” chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by researchers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder. Fracking fluid is largely comprised of water and sand, but oil and gas companies also add a variety of other chemicals, including surfactants.

Evolution software looks beyond the branches

November 12, 2014 10:47 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

The tree has been an effective model of evolution for 150 years, but a Rice Univ. computer scientist believes it’s far too simple to illustrate the breadth of current knowledge. Rice researcher Luay Nakhleh and his group have developed PhyloNet, an open source software package that accounts for horizontal as well as vertical inheritance of genetic material among genomes.

Some plants regenerate by duplicating their DNA

November 12, 2014 10:29 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

When munched by grazing animals (or mauled by scientists in the laboratory), some herbaceous plants overcompensate, producing more plant matter and becoming more fertile than they otherwise would. Scientists say they now know how these plants accomplish this feat of regeneration. They report their findings in Molecular Ecology.

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Cancer-killing nanodaisies

November 12, 2014 8:31 am | by Alastair Hadden, North Carolina State Univ. | Videos | Comments

North Carolina State Univ. researchers have developed a potential new weapon in the fight against cancer: a daisy-shaped drug carrier that’s many thousands of times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Once injected into the bloodstream, millions of these “nanodaisies” sneak inside cancer cells and release a cocktail of drugs to destroy them from within.

Ebola workers ask Congress for help

November 12, 2014 3:58 am | by Lauran Neergaard - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Health workers on the front line of the Ebola crisis say the need for urgent help isn't letting up, as Congress begins considering President Barack Obama's $6.2 billion emergency aid request to fight the disease. Despite reports that the number of infections is slowing in some parts of West Africa, cases still are rising in other areas.

Microtubes create cozy space for neurons to grow

November 11, 2014 2:25 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Videos | Comments

Tiny, thin microtubes could provide a scaffold for neuron cultures to grow so that researchers can study neural networks, their growth and repair, yielding insights into treatment for degenerative neurological conditions or restoring nerve connections after injury. Researchers created the microtube platform to study neuron growth.

“Antibiogram” use in nursing facilities could improve antibiotic use

November 11, 2014 10:05 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Use of “antibiograms” in skilled nursing facilities could improve antibiotic effectiveness and help address problems with antibiotic resistance. Antibiograms are tools that aid health care practitioners in prescribing antibiotics in local populations. They are based on information from microbiology laboratory tests and provide information on how likely a certain antibiotic is to effectively treat a particular infection.

Unshackling The Gold Standard

November 11, 2014 9:09 am | by Chris Petty, VP of Business Development, 908 Devices | Articles | Comments

Demand for mass spectrometry continues to rise. According to a recent Marketsandmarkets report, the global mass spectrometry market is expected to reach $5.9 billion by 2018. That’s a healthy compounded annual growth rate of 8.7%. Since its earliest demonstration more than 100 years ago, this analytical technique has become known as the “gold standard” of chemical analysis.

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Researchers take snapshots of potential “kill switch” for cancer

November 11, 2014 8:35 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | News | Comments

A study conducted in part at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has revealed how a key human protein switches from a form that protects cells to a form that kills them—a property that scientists hope to exploit as a “kill switch” for cancer. The protein, called cIAP1, shields cells from programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

Medicare proposes covering lung cancer screening

November 10, 2014 5:58 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Medicare may soon begin paying for yearly scans to detect lung cancer in certain current or former heavy smokers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday issued a long-awaited proposal to begin covering the screening for high-risk beneficiaries if their doctors agree they meet the criteria.

Catalyst-where-you-want-it method expands possibilities for new drug development

November 10, 2014 11:13 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry have described a method for creating and modifying organic compounds that overcomes a major limitation of previous methods. The advance opens up a large number of novel chemical structures for synthesis and evaluation, for example, as candidate pharmaceuticals.

Biochemistry detective work: Algae at night

November 10, 2014 11:05 am | by Carnegie Institute | News | Comments

Photosynthesis is probably the most well-known aspect of plant biochemistry. It enables plants, algae and select bacteria to transform the energy from sunlight during the daytime into chemical energy in the form of sugars and starches (as well as oils and proteins), and it involves taking in carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen derived from water molecules.

Synthetic biology for space exploration

November 10, 2014 9:27 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Does synthetic biology hold the key to manned space exploration of the moon and Mars? Berkeley Lab researchers have used synthetic biology to produce an inexpensive and reliable microbial-based alternative to the world’s most effective anti-malaria drug, and to develop clean, green and sustainable alternatives to gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. In the future, synthetic biology could also be used to make manned space missions more practical.

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How human cells become immortal

November 10, 2014 8:35 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Every day, some of your cells stop dividing, and that’s a good thing. Cells that proliferate indefinitely are immortal, an essential early step in the development of most malignant tumors. Despite its importance in cancer, the process of cell immortalization is poorly understood. That’s because scientists have lacked a good way to study immortalization in human cells as it occurs during cancer progression.

First peek at how neurons multitask

November 10, 2014 8:01 am | by Laura Williams, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have shown how a single neuron can perform multiple functions in a model organism, illuminating for the first time this fundamental biological mechanism and shedding light on the human brain. Investigators found that a neuron in C. elegans regulates both the speed and direction in which the worm moves.

Ebola volunteers wrestle with quarantine mandates

November 8, 2014 9:58 am | by Jennifer Peltz - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Dr. Robert Fuller didn't hesitate to go to Indonesia to treat survivors of the 2004 tsunami, to Haiti to help after the 2010 earthquake or to the Philippines after a devastating typhoon last year. But he's given up on going to West Africa to care for Ebola patients this winter. He could make the six-week commitment sought by his go-to aid organization, International Medical Corps.

Life in Earth’s primordial sea was starved for sulfate

November 7, 2014 3:18 pm | by Univ. of British Columbia | News | Comments

The Earth’s ancient oceans held much lower concentrations of sulfate— a key biological nutrient— than previously recognized, according to new research.                             

DNA study dates Eurasian split from East Asians

November 7, 2014 3:08 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The human populations now predominant in Eurasia and East Asia probably split between 36,200 and 45,000 years ago, according to a study released Thursday.                            

Purdue innovation might make MR imaging more effective, less toxic

November 7, 2014 10:17 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers led by David Thompson, president of Aten Biotherapeutics and a professor in Purdue's Department of Chemistry, are developing controlled-release imaging agents that allow for a longer, safer imaging session.         

A promising strategy against HIV

November 7, 2014 10:09 am | by B. D. Colen, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Massachusetts General (MGH) and Boston Children’s hospitals (BCH) for the first time have used a relatively new gene-editing technique to create what could prove to be an effective technique for blocking HIV from invading and destroying patients’ immune systems.

Satellites assist in Ebola management

November 7, 2014 9:37 am | by UK Space Agency | News | Comments

The UK's International Charter for Space and Major Disasters (the Charter) is an international agreement between space agencies to provide free satellite images in the immediate aftermath of natural or man-made disasters.         

Adding 'spice' to curcumin’s health-promoting benefits

November 6, 2014 2:55 pm | by Emily Caldwell, The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The health benefits of over-the-counter curcumin supplements might not get past your gut, but new research shows that a modified formulation of the spice releases its anti-inflammatory goodness throughout the body.           

Microbubbles can improve stroke treatment

November 6, 2014 10:25 am | by Charlie Feigenoff, Univ. of Virginia | News | Comments

Univ. of Virginia biomedical engineers are building an entire technology around tiny, microscopic bubbles– a technology that has the potential to play an important role in diagnosing as well as treating disease like stroke and cancer.     

Study shows direct brain interface between humans

November 6, 2014 10:20 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Univ. of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago.              

The origins of multicellular life

November 6, 2014 10:14 am | by Massey Univ. | News | Comments

In groundbreaking research reported in this week’s edition of Nature, researchers from New Zealand, Germany and the United States report the real-time evolution of life forms that have all the hallmarks of multicellular organisms.       

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