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A “Wikipedia” for neurons

March 31, 2015 8:43 am | by Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | Videos | Comments

The decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain is astounding. To help scientists make sense of this “brain big data,” researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univ. have used data mining to create www.neuroelectro.org, a publicly available Website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing physiological information about neurons.

Scientists reveal mechanism of natural product with powerful antimicrobial action

March 31, 2015 8:04 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have uncovered the unique mechanism of a powerful natural product with wide-ranging antifungal, antibacterial antimalaria and anticancer effects. The new study sheds light on the natural small molecule known as borrelidin.

New drug stalls estrogen receptor-positive cancer cells, shrinks tumors

March 31, 2015 7:43 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

An experimental drug rapidly shrinks most tumors in a mouse model of human breast cancer, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When mice were treated with the experimental drug, BHPI, the tumors immediately stopped growing and began shrinking rapidly.

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Microsecond Raman imaging might probe cells, organs for disease

March 30, 2015 1:03 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A vibrational spectroscopic imaging technology that can take images of living cells could represent an advanced medical diagnostic tool for the early detection of cancer and other diseases. High-speed spectroscopic imaging makes it possible to observe the quickly changing metabolic processes inside living cells and to image large areas of tissue, making it possible to scan an entire organ.

High-tech method allows rapid imaging of functions in living brain

March 30, 2015 11:49 am | by Julie Flory, Washington Univ. of St. Louis | News | Comments

Researchers studying cancer and other invasive diseases rely on high-resolution imaging to see tumors and other activity deep within the body's tissues. Using a new high-speed, high-resolution imaging method, a team at Washington Univ. in St. Louis were able to see blood flow, blood oxygenation, oxygen metabolism and other functions inside a living mouse brain at faster rates than ever before.

Prototype nanoneedles generate new blood vessels in mice

March 30, 2015 11:20 am | by Imperial College London | News | Comments

Scientists have developed tiny nanoneedles that have successfully prompted parts of the body to generate new blood vessels, in a trial in mice. The researchers, from Imperial College London and Houston Methodist Research Institute, hope their nanoneedle technique could ultimately help damaged organs and nerves to repair themselves and help transplanted organs to thrive.

Researchers develop computational model to simulate bacterial behavior

March 30, 2015 8:25 am | by Univ. of Notre Dame | News | Comments

Univ. of Notre Dame applied mathematician Mark Alber and environmental biotechnologist Robert Nerenberg have developed a new computational model that effectively simulates the mechanical behavior of biofilms. Their model may lead to new strategies for studying a range of issues from blood clots to waste treatment systems.

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed world by 2050

March 30, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in Cell.

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Precocious GEM

March 30, 2015 7:46 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | News | Comments

Scientists working at NIST and the NIH have devised and demonstrated a new, shape-shifting probe, about one-hundredth as wide as a human hair, which is capable of sensitive, high-resolution remote biological sensing that is not possible with current technology. If eventually put into widespread use, the design could have a major impact on research in medicine, chemistry, biology and engineering.

Disrupted biological clock linked to Alzheimer’s disease

March 27, 2015 11:58 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

New research has identified some of the processes by which molecules associated with neurological diseases can disrupt the biological clock, interfere with sleep and activity patterns and set the stage for a spiral of health concerns that can include a decreased lifespan and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers master gene editing technique in mosquito that transmits deadly diseases

March 27, 2015 11:09 am | by Zach Veilleux, Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Traditionally, to understand how a gene functions, a scientist would breed an organism that lacks that gene, “knocking it out”, then ask how the organism has changed. Are its senses affected? Its behavior? Can it even survive? Thanks to the recent advance of gene editing technology, this gold standard genetic experiment has become much more accessible in a wide variety of organisms.

HIV can lodge quickly in brain after infection

March 27, 2015 10:29 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

HIV can establish itself in the brain as soon as four months after initial infection; a finding that dampens hopes of an impending cure for a disease that afflicts more than 35 million people. Within two years of infection, a genetically distinct version of HIV replicates in the brains of as many as one in four patients.

MRI based on sugar molecule can tell cancerous from noncancerous cells

March 27, 2015 8:32 am | by Shawna Williams, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Imaging tests like mammograms or CT scans can detect tumors, but figuring out whether a growth is or isn't cancer usually requires a biopsy to study cells directly. Now results of a Johns Hopkins Univ. study suggest that MRI could one day make biopsies more effective or even replace them altogether by noninvasively detecting telltale sugar molecules shed by the outer membranes of cancerous cells.

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Big data allows computer engineers to find genetic clues in humans

March 27, 2015 8:26 am | by Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

Big data: It's a term we read and hear about often, but is hard to grasp. Computer scientists at Washington Univ. in St. Louis tackled some big data about an important protein and discovered its connection in human history as well as clues about its role in complex neurological diseases.

FDA to scrutinize unproven alternative remedies

March 26, 2015 12:05 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal officials plan to review the safety and evidence behind alternative remedies like Zicam and Cold-Eeze, products that are protected by federal law, but not accepted by mainstream medicine. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will hold a two-day meeting next month on regulations for homeopathic medicines, which have long occupied a place on the fringes of U.S. health care.

Protein shake-up

March 26, 2015 10:47 am | by Chris Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

For living organisms proteins are an essential part of their body system and are needed to thrive. In recent years, a certain class of proteins has challenged researchers’ conventional notion that proteins have a static and well-defined structure. It’s thought that mutations in these proteins, known as intrinsically disordered proteins, are associated with neurodegenerative changes, cardiovascular disorders and diseases like cancer.

New pox discovered in Eastern Europe, but not deadly

March 25, 2015 6:06 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Health officials have discovered a new germ in Eastern Europe that is related to the dreaded smallpox and monkeypox viruses but so far seems far less threatening. The germ caused two cattle herders to suffer fever, swollen lymph nodes and painful boils on their hands and arms in 2013.

Science, patients driving rare disease drug research surge

March 25, 2015 12:10 pm | by Linda A. Johnson, AP Business Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The global pharmaceutical industry is pouring billions of dollars into developing treatments for rare diseases, which once drew little interest from major drugmakers but now point the way toward a new era of innovative therapies and big profits. The investments come as researchers harness recent scientific advances.

Researchers find promising new biomarkers for concussion

March 25, 2015 10:50 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By looking at the molecular aftermath of concussion in an unusual way, a team of researchers at Brown Univ. and the Lifespan health system has developed a candidate panel of blood biomarkers that can accurately signal mild traumatic brain injury within hours using standard, widely available lab arrays. The results appear in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain

March 25, 2015 10:33 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Carbon nanotube fibers invented at Rice Univ. may provide a way to communicate directly with the brain. The fibers have proven superior to metal electrodes for deep brain stimulation and to read signals from a neuronal network. Because they provide a two-way connection, they show promise for treating patients with neurological disorders while monitoring the real-time response of neural circuits in areas that control movement and mood.

Turn the light on

March 25, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

In the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop, a potentially powerful new tool could soon be available. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation.

New technique paints tissue samples with light

March 24, 2015 3:48 pm | by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

One infrared scan can give pathologists a window into the structures and molecules inside tissues and cells, enabling fast and broad diagnostic assessments, thanks to an imaging technique developed by University of Illinois researchers and clinical partners.

Milk may be good for your brain

March 24, 2015 10:30 am | by University of Kansas Medical Center | News | Comments

New research conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center has found a correlation between milk consumption and the levels of a naturally-occurring antioxidant called glutathione in the brain in older, healthy adults.

Brain tumor cells decimated by mitochondrial 'smart bomb'

March 24, 2015 10:25 am | by Houston Methodist | News | Comments

An experimental drug that attacks brain tumor tissue by crippling the cells' energy source called the mitochondria has passed early tests in animal models and human tissue cultures, say Houston Methodist scientists.

Scientists coax stem cells to form 3-D mini lungs

March 24, 2015 10:17 am | by University of Michigan Health System | News | Comments

Scientists have coaxed stem cells to grow the first three-dimensional mini lungs. Previous research has focused on deriving lung tissue from flat cell systems or growing cells onto scaffolds made from donated organs.

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