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Identifying the biological clock that governs female fertility

Wed, 29/10/2014 - 00:59


A recent study at the University of Gothenburg sheds light on the mystery of the biological clock that governs fertility. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have identified the biological clock that governs female fertility. The discovery represents a major contribution to research aimed at finding medical approaches to treating infertility in women.

Giant tortoises gain a foothold on a Galapagos Island

Wed, 29/10/2014 - 00:59

A population of endangered giant tortoises, which once dwindled to just over a dozen, has recovered on the Galapagos island of Española, a finding described as "a true story of success and hope in conservation" by the lead author of a study published today (Oct. 28).

New findings show that different brain tumors have the same origin

Wed, 29/10/2014 - 00:59

Glioma is a common name for serious brain tumours. Different types of glioma are usually diagnosed as separate diseases and have been considered to arise from different cell types in the brain. Now researchers at Uppsala University, together with American colleagues, have shown that one and the same cell of origin can give rise to different types of glioma. This is important for the basic understanding of how these tumours are formed and can contribute to the development of more efficient and specific glioma therapies. The results have been published in Journal of Neuroscience.

It's better for memory to make mistakes while learning

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 00:20

Making mistakes while learning can benefit memory and lead to the correct answer, but only if the guesses are close-but-no-cigar, according to new research findings from Baycrest Health Sciences.

Boosting biogasoline production in microbes

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 00:20

In the on-going effort to develop advanced biofuels as a clean, green and sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of Escherichia coli.

Molecular beacons shine light on how cells 'crawl'

Sat, 25/10/2014 - 10:50


'Our premise is that mechanics play a role in almost all biological processes, and with these DNA-based tension probes we're going to uncover, measure and map those forces,' says biomolecular... Adherent cells, the kind that form the architecture of all multi-cellular organisms, are mechanically engineered with precise forces that allow them to move around and stick to things. Proteins called integrin receptors act like little hands and feet to pull these cells across a surface or to anchor them in place. When groups of these cells are put into a petri dish with a variety of substrates they can sense the differences in the surfaces and they will "crawl" toward the stiffest one they can find.

Scientists engineer toxin-secreting stem cells to treat brain tumors

Sat, 25/10/2014 - 10:50


Encapsulated toxin-producing stem cells (in blue) help kill brain tumor cells in the tumor resection cavity (in green). Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to use stem cells in the fight against brain cancer. A team led by neuroscientist Khalid Shah, MS, PhD, who recently demonstrated the value of stem cells loaded with cancer-killing herpes viruses, now has a way to genetically engineer stem cells so that they can produce and secrete tumor-killing toxins.

A new dent in HIV-1's armor

Sat, 25/10/2014 - 10:50


This image shows, from the left: Katherine Jones, Salk professor, and first authors Yupeng Chen and Lirong Zhang. Like a slumbering dragon, HIV can lay dormant in a person's cells for years, evading medical treatments only to wake up and strike at a later time, quickly replicating itself and destroying the immune system.

Tarantula venom illuminates electrical activity in live cells

Tue, 21/10/2014 - 22:19

Researchers have created a cellular probe that combines a tarantula toxin with a fluorescent compound to help scientists observe electrical activity in neurons and other cells. The probe binds to a voltage-activated potassium ion channel subtype, lighting up when the channel is turned off and dimming when it is activated.

Physicists solve longstanding puzzle of how moths find distant mates

Tue, 21/10/2014 - 22:19

The way in which male moths locate females flying hundreds of meters away has long been a mystery to scientists.

Amphibians being wiped out by emerging viruses

Thu, 16/10/2014 - 22:21

Scientists tracing the real-time impact of viruses in the wild have found that entire amphibian communities are being killed off by closely related viruses introduced to mountainous areas of northern Spain.

Researchers reach 'paradigm shift' in understanding potassium channels

Thu, 16/10/2014 - 22:21

A new discovery relating to one of the most common processes in human cells is being described as a 'paradigm shift' in understanding.

Scientists find 'hidden brain signatures' of consciousness in vegetative state patients

Thu, 16/10/2014 - 22:21

Scientists in Cambridge have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state, which point to networks that could support consciousness even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study could help doctors identify patients who are aware despite being unable to communicate.

Drexel study questions 21-day quarantine period for Ebola

Wed, 15/10/2014 - 22:38

As medical personnel and public health officials are responding to the first reported cases of Ebola Virus in the United States, many of the safety and treatment procedures for treating the virus and preventing its spread are being reexamined. One of the tenets for minimizing the risk of spreading the disease has been a 21-day quarantine period for individuals who might have been exposed to the virus. But a new study by Charles Haas, PhD, a professor in Drexel's College of Engineering, suggests that 21 days might not be enough to completely prevent spread of the virus.

Two-faced gene: SIRT6 prevents some cancers but promotes sun-induced skin cancer

Wed, 15/10/2014 - 22:38

A new study published in Cancer Research shows SIRT6—a protein known to inhibit the growth of liver and colon cancers—can promote the development of skin cancers by turning on an enzyme that increases inflammation, proliferation and survival of sun-damaged skin cells.

Versatile antibiotic found with self-immunity gene on plasmid in staph strain

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 00:10

A robust, broad spectrum antibiotic, and a gene that confers immunity to that antibiotic are both found in the bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis Strain 115. The antibiotic, a member of the thiopeptide family of antibiotics, is not in widespread use, partly due to its complex structure, but the investigators, from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, now report that the mechanism of synthesis is surprisingly simple. "We hope to come up with innovative processes for large-scale production and derivitization so that new, and possibly more potent versions of the antibiotic can become available, says co-corresponding author Joel S. Griffitts. The research is published ahead of print in Journal of Bacteriology.

Greater rates of mitochondrial mutations discovered in children born to older mothers

Tue, 14/10/2014 - 00:10

The discovery of a "maternal age effect" by a team of Penn State scientists that could be used to predict the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations in maternal egg cells -- and the transmission of these mutations to children -- could provide valuable insights for genetic counseling. These mutations cause more than 200 diseases and contribute to others such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. The study found greater rates of the mitochondrial DNA variants in children born to older mothers, as well as in the mothers themselves. The research will be published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on October 13, 2014,

Oral capsule as effective as invasive procedures for delivery of fecal transplant

Mon, 13/10/2014 - 08:06

A noninvasive method of delivering a promising therapy for persistent Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection appears to be as effective as treatment via colonoscopy or through a nasogastric tube. In their JAMA report, receiving early online release to coincide with a presentation at the Infectious Diseases Society of America's ID Week conference, investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that oral administration of the therapy called fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) in acid-resistant capsules was as successful as more invasive methods in eliminating recurrent diarrhea caused by C. difficile.

NIH funds research consortia to study more than 200 rare diseases

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 22:33

Physician scientists at 22 consortia will collaborate with representatives of 98 patient advocacy groups to advance clinical research and investigate new treatments for patients with rare diseases. The collaborations are made possible through awards by the National Institutes of Health — totaling about $29 million in fiscal year 2014 funding — to expand the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN), which is led by NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

A glimpse into the 3-D brain: How memories form

Tue, 07/10/2014 - 00:35


This is a 3-D image of the hippocampus of a rat. The way neurons are interconnected in the brain is very complicated. This holds especially true for the cells of the hippocampus. It is one of the oldest brain regions and its form resembles a see horse (hippocampus in Latin). The hippocampus enables us to navigate space securely and to form personal memories. So far, the anatomic knowledge of the networks inside the hippocampus and its connection to the rest of the brain has left scientists guessing which information arrived where and when.