A rare, recently discovered microbe that survives on very little to eat has been found in two places on Earth: spacecraft clean rooms in Florida and South America. Some other microbes have been discovered in a spacecraft clean room and found nowhere else, but none previously had been found in two different clean rooms and nowhere else.
Scientists have puzzled for centuries over how and why multicellular organisms evolved the almost universal trait of using single cells, such as eggs and sperm, to reproduce. Now, researchers have set a big piece of that puzzle into place by applying experimental evolution to transform a single-celled algae into a multicellular one that reproduces by dispersing single cells.
Scientists have developed a 3D filming technique that has brought fresh insights into the behavior of malaria sperm. They were able to see that malaria sperm move in an irregular, lopsided corkscrew motion. Understanding how malaria parasites mate could pave the way for improved prevention and control of this deadly disease.
“Function follows form” might have been written to describe proteins, as the M. C. Escher-esque folds and twists of nature’s workhorse biomolecules enables each to carry out its specific responsibilities. X-ray protein crystallography determines protein structures by creating a diffraction pattern of dots that can be reconstructed by computer into a 3-D model.
A Yale Univ. study has uncovered a key genetic mechanism that may determine a person’s susceptibility to the ravages of West Nile virus. The Yale researchers focused on the protein ELF4, which is a transcription factor that controls the cellular signaling and flow of genetic information. Working with mice, they discovered that ELF4, when activated by viral infection, directly impacts the production of interferon.
Officials at the University of California, San Diego announced that philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has committed $100 million to the creation of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center. The center is intended to accelerate development of drugs and therapies derived from human stem cell research through clinical trials and patient therapies.
Debating whether to seek a strep test for that sore throat? One day there could be a software application for that: Researchers are developing a home scorecard that aims to prevent thousands of unnecessary trips to the doctor for this common complaint. More than 12 million Americans make doctors' visits for a sore throat every year. Usually the culprit is a virus that they just have to wait out with a little care.
Researchers at the Univ. of Chicago are developing computer-aided diagnosis and quantitative image analysis methods for mammograms, ultrasounds and magnetic resonance images to identify specific tumor characteristics, including size, shape and sharpness
Our brains have upwards of 86 billion neurons, connected by synapses that not only complete myriad logic circuits; they continuously adapt to stimuli, strengthening some connections while weakening others. Materials scientists have now created a new type of transistor that mimics the behavior of a synapse. The novel device simultaneously modulates the flow of information in a circuit and physically adapts to changing signals.
Merck said Monday that its new human papillomavirus vaccine was about 97% effective in blocking precancerous lesions caused by strains of the virus that are not stopped by Merck's vaccine Gardasil. Merck & Co. said it expects to file for marketing approval of the new vaccine, which is designated V503, before the end of 2013.
A team of researchers has discovered a bacterium in hot springs which needs rare earth materials such as lanthanum, cerium or neodymium to grow. The bacteria need the valuable metals to produce energy as co-factor for the enzyme methanol dehydrogenase, with which the microbes produce their energy. The use of rare earths is possibly more widespread among bacteria than previously thought.
Scientists looking to create a potent blend of enzymes to transform materials like corn stalks and wood chips into fuels have developed a test that should turbocharge their efforts. The new research is part of a worldwide effort to create fuels from plants that are plentiful and aren't part of the food supply. It's possible to do this today, but the process is costly, laborious and lengthy.
Nitric oxide (NO) is one of the most important signaling molecules in living cells, carrying messages within the brain and coordinating immune system functions. In many cancerous cells, levels are perturbed, but very little is known about how NO behaves in both healthy and cancerous cells. Until now.
Most people know about ultrasound through its role in prenatal imaging: those grainy, grey outlines of junior constructed from reflected sound waves. A new technology called an "acoustic diode” that would transmit sound in one direction may dramatically improve future ultrasound images by changing the way sound waves are transmitted.
Researchers at Oregon State Univ. have discovered that one gene in a common fungus acts as a master regulator, and deleting it has opened access to a wealth of new compounds that have never before been studied—with the potential to identify new antibiotics.
Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug given to more than half of all cancer patients. The drug kills cells very effectively by damaging nuclear DNA, but if tumors become resistant to cisplatin they often grow back. A new study offers a possible way to overcome that resistance. The researchers found that when cisplatin was delivered to cellular structures called mitochondria, DNA in this organelle was damaged, leading to cancer cell death.
Slapping a 20% tax on soda in Britain could cut the number of obese adults by about 180,000, according to a new study. Though the number works out to a modest drop of 1.3% in obesity, scientists say that reduction would still be worthwhile in the U.K., which has a population of about 63 million and is the fattest country in Western Europe. About one in four Britons is obese.
Microbeam radiation therapy provides tremendous promise for cancer patients through its ability to destroy tumor cells while protecting surrounding healthy tissue. Yet research into its clinical use has been limited by the sheer size of the technology required to generate the beams. Until now.
Doctors may one day be able to control a patient's HIV infection in a new way: injecting swarms of germ-fighting antibodies, two new studies suggest. In monkeys, that strategy sharply reduced blood levels of a cousin of HIV. The results also gave tantalizing hints that someday the tactic might help destroy the AIDS virus in its hiding places in the body, something current drugs cannot do.
One of the world’s largest dinosaurs has been digitally reconstructed by experts from The Univ. of Manchester allowing it to take its first steps in over 94 million years. The Manchester team, working with scientists in Argentina, were able to laser scan a 40-m-long skeleton of the vast Cretaceous Argentinosaurus dinosaur. Then using an advanced computer modeling technique they recreated its walking and running movements.
Taking inspiration from the human immune system, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a new material that can be programmed to identify an endless variety of molecules. The new material resembles tiny sheets of Velcro, each just one-hundred nanometers across. But instead of securing your sneakers, this molecular Velcro mimics the way natural antibodies recognize viruses and toxins.
The increasingly powerful microscopes used in biomedical imaging provide biologists with 3-D images of hundreds of cells, and cells in these images are often layered on each other. Under these conditions, it is impossible for traditional computational methods to determine the cells' properties. Researchers have developed a virtual tool that can analyze dozens of images in just an hour. This works out to hundreds of cells.
Researchers using transmission electron microscopy have examined the smallest building block of coral that can be identified: sphemlites. These studies have revealed three distinct regions whose formation could be directly correlated to the time of day. These findings could help scientists and environmentalists working to protect and conserve coral from the threats of acidification and rising water temperatures.
What does the coastal community of Bolinas, Calif., have in common with the impoverished island nation of Haiti? The surprising answer is a fledgling sanitation strategy whereby human waste is composted into nutrient-rich fertilizer, all supported by research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Gary Andersen.
A brain stimulation technique that is used to treat tough cases of depression could be considerably improved with a new headpiece designed by Univ. of Michigan engineers. Computer simulations showed that the headpiece—a square array of 64 circular metallic coils—could one day help researchers and doctors hit finer targets in the brain that are twice as deep as they can reach today, and without causing pain.