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FDA panel endorses first lower-cost biotech drug

January 7, 2015 5:36 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health experts have unanimously endorsed a Novartis drug which is expected to become the first lower-cost copy of a biotech drug to reach the U.S. market. A panel of FDA experts ruled that the company's version of Neupogen is highly similar to Amgen's original blockbuster biotech drug, which is used to boost blood cells that help cancer patients fight off infections.

Cold virus replicates better at cooler temperatures

January 7, 2015 11:27 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | Videos | Comments

The common cold virus can reproduce itself more efficiently in the cooler temperature found inside the nose than at core body temperature, according to a new Yale Univ.-led study. This finding may confirm the popular, yet contested, notion that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool-weather conditions.

The best offense against bacteria is a good defense

January 7, 2015 11:13 am | by Emily Caldwell, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

A small protein active in the human immune response can disable bacterial toxins by exploiting a property that makes the toxins effective, but also turns out to be a weakness. These toxins, which are released by bacteria, have malleable surfaces that allow them to move through porous areas of host cells to pave the way for bacteria to stay alive. But that same malleability makes the toxins vulnerable to these immune system proteins.

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Technology quickly traces source of tainted food

January 7, 2015 10:51 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Foodborne illnesses kill roughly 3,000 Americans each year and about one in six are sickened, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet most contaminated foods are never traced back to their source. That’s because existing methods to track tainted food following its supply chain from table to farm are highly inefficient, jeopardizing the health of millions and costing the food industry billions.

Microfluidic Method for Primary Neuron Culture and Analysis

January 7, 2015 8:42 am | by Paul J. Hung, Shin-Yi Cindy Chen, Ivana Zubonja and Terry A. Gaige, EMD Millipore | Articles | Comments

Dissecting neuron function, while crucially important for understanding normal and pathological neurological processes, requires measuring the responses of live cells to external stimuli. Because of the inherent difficulties in performing perturbation analyses inside living organisms, there has been a longstanding drive towards developing methodologies for in vitro analysis of neurons.

Study pinpoints autism-linked protein for sculpting brain connections

January 7, 2015 8:00 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Shortly after birth, human brains expand rapidly with the experience of an entirely new world. During this period, neurons in the newborn brain compete with one another to form lasting connections, called synapses. A new study by Duke Univ. researchers provides a close-up of synapse refinement and identifies a protein that is crucial in this process.

Responsive material could be the “golden ticket” of sensing

January 7, 2015 7:45 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Cambridge have developed a new self-assembled material, which, by changing its shape, can amplify small variations in temperature and concentration of biomolecules, making them easier to detect. The material, which consists of synthetic spheres “glued” together with short strands of DNA, could be used to underpin a new class of biosensors, or form the basis for new drug delivery systems.

Body clock protects metabolic health

January 6, 2015 3:30 pm | by Tom Vasich, Univ. of California, Irvine | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Irvine scientists studying the role of circadian rhythms in skin stem cells found that this clock plays a key role in coordinating daily metabolic cycles and cell division. Their research, which appears in Cell Reports, shows, for the first time, how the body’s intrinsic day-night cycles protect and nurture stem cell differentiation.

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Unraveling root growth control network

January 6, 2015 3:18 pm | by Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Green shoots are a sign of spring, but growing those shoots and roots is a complicated process. Now researchers at the Univ. of California, Davis (UC Davis) and the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst have, for the first time, described part of the network of genetic controls that allows a plant to grow.

When DNA gets sent to time-out

January 6, 2015 10:21 am | by Catherine Kolf, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

For a skin cell to do its job, it must turn on a completely different set of genes than a liver cell—and keep genes it doesn’t need switched off. One way of turning off large groups of genes at once is to send them to “time-out” at the edge of the nucleus, where they are kept quiet. New research from Johns Hopkins sheds light on how DNA gets sent to the nucleus’ far edge, a process critical to controlling genes and determining cell fate.

“Flying carpet” technique uses graphene to deliver one-two punch of anticancer drugs

January 6, 2015 10:02 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has developed a drug delivery technique that utilizes graphene strips as “flying carpets” to deliver two anticancer drugs sequentially to cancer cells, with each drug targeting the distinct part of the cell where it will be most effective. The technique was found to perform better than either drug in isolation when tested in a mouse model targeting a human lung cancer tumor.

How enzymes from white blood cells function

January 6, 2015 7:26 am | by Nathan Hurst, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

As a part of the human immune system, white blood cells create a number of enzymes that help fight disease. Sometimes, these enzymes damage tissues in inflammatory diseases. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri, have determined that one of these enzymes, known as MMP12, does not remain outside of cells while it fights infections, but rather it can travel all the way to the center of cells.

CDC: Flu season continues to worsen, could peak this month

January 5, 2015 5:35 pm | by By Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The flu is now widespread in all but seven states, and hospitalization rates match the dismal season two years ago. While health officials fear this will be an unusually bad year, it's too soon to say. The latest figures released Monday by the CDC show the flu hitting hard in most of the 43 states where the illness was widespread. But the flu was not yet rampant in populous states like California and New York.

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Researchers find clue to cause of tics in Tourette syndrome

January 5, 2015 4:37 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The tics seen in Tourette syndrome may be caused by the loss of specific neurons in the brain, a Yale Univ. study has demonstrated. Previous postmortem studies of people with severe forms of the disease showed that there was a decrease in a rare but important type of neuron in the dorsal striatum, deep within the brain.

DNA origami could lead to nano “transformers” for biomedical applications

January 5, 2015 3:59 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | Videos | Comments

If the new nanomachines built at The Ohio State Univ. look familiar, it’s because they were designed with full-size mechanical parts such as hinges and pistons in mind. The project is the first to prove that the same basic design principles that apply to typical full-size machine parts can also be applied to DNA; and can produce complex, controllable components for future nanorobots.

“Glowing” new nanotechnology guides cancer surgery

January 5, 2015 3:41 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Oregon State Univ. have developed a new way to selectively insert compounds into cancer cells—a system that will help surgeons identify malignant tissues and then, in combination with phototherapy, kill any remaining cancer cells after a tumor is removed. It’s about as simple as, “If it glows, cut it out.” And if a few malignant cells remain, they’ll soon die.

Sensor demonstrates lack of space in living cells

January 5, 2015 10:12 am | by Ruhr-Univ. Bochum | News | Comments

Proteins and other biomolecules are often analyzed exclusively in aqueous solutions in test tubes. But it is uncertain if these experimental studies can be transferred to the densely packed cellular environment. The Bochum-based researchers have developed a novel method which can be used to analyze the effects of the lack of space in living cells with the aid of a microscope for the first time.

Watching nanoscale assembly live

January 5, 2015 9:57 am | by Max Ryadnov, National Physical Laboratory | News | Comments

Ebola virus, Alzheimer's amyloid fibrils, tissue collagen scaffolds and cellular cytoskeleton are all filamentous structures that spontaneously assemble from individual proteins. Many protein filaments are well studied and are already finding use in regenerative medicine, molecular electronics and diagnostics. However, the very process of their assembly, protein fibrillogenesis, remains largely unrevealed.

HIV vaccines should avoid viral target cells

January 5, 2015 8:09 am | by Lisa Newbern, Emory Univ. | News | Comments

Vaccines designed to protect against HIV can backfire and lead to increased rates of infection. This unfortunate effect has been seen in more than one vaccine clinical trial. Scientists at Emory Univ. have newly published results that support a straightforward explanation for the backfire effect: vaccination may increase the number of immune cells that serve as viral targets.

Research suggests approach to treat virus causing respiratory illness in children

January 5, 2015 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

New research findings point toward a class of compounds that could be effective in combating infections caused by enterovirus D68, which has stricken children with serious respiratory infections in the U.S. and elsewhere. The researchers used x-ray crystallography to learn the precise structure of the original strain of EV-D68 on its own and when bound to an anti-viral compound called "pleconaril."

Predicting superbugs’ countermoves to new drugs

January 5, 2015 7:29 am | by Robin Ann Smith, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

With drug-resistant bacteria on the rise, even common infections that were easily controlled for decades are proving trickier to treat with standard antibiotics. New drugs are desperately needed, but so are ways to maximize the effective lifespan of these drugs. To accomplish that, Duke Univ. researchers used software they developed to predict a constantly evolving infectious bacterium's countermoves to one of these new drugs ahead of time.

Plant genetic advance could lead to more efficient biofuel conversion

January 5, 2015 7:14 am | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

Plant geneticists from the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst and the Univ. of California, Davis have sorted out the gene regulatory networks that control cell wall thickening by the synthesis of the three polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The plant geneticists say that the most rigid of the polymers, lignin, represents “a major impediment” to extracting sugars from plant biomass that can be used to make biofuels.

Shelton drug development lab targets Ebola cure

January 3, 2015 5:35 am | by By Ed Stannard - New Haven Register - Associated Press | News | Comments

A company that is developing new anti-viral drugs hopes it will have a cure for Ebola, which is still in the research phase, put on the fast track for development in the fight against the disease. NanoViricides, whose headquarters are in West Haven, opened its research and development lab in July. The company, with a net worth of $250 million, employs more than 20 and expects to double that in the next two years.

Guide for healthy eating may consider environment

January 3, 2015 3:35 am | by By Mary Clare Jalonick - Associated Press | News | Comments

The government issues dietary guidelines every five years to encourage Americans to eat healthier. This year's version may look at what is healthy for the environment, too. A new focus on the environment would mean asking people to choose more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods—possibly at the expense of meat.

Testing anti-drinking drug with help of a fake bar

January 2, 2015 3:39 pm | by By Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The tequila sure looks real, so do the beer taps. Inside the hospital at the National Institutes of Health, researchers are testing a possible new treatment to help heavy drinkers cut back, using a replica of a fully stocked bar. The idea: Sitting in the dimly lit bar-laboratory should cue the volunteers' brains to crave a drink, and help determine if the experimental pill counters that urge.

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