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Updated: 33 min 16 sec ago

Scientists discover an on-off switch for aging cells

Mon, 22/09/2014 - 22:29


Victoria Lundblad and Timothy Tucey are researchers at the Salk Institute. Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off "switch" in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing and generating, for example, new lung or liver tissue, even in old age.

New hadrosaur noses into spotlight

Sat, 20/09/2014 - 00:16


Rhinorex, a newly discovered dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period, had an impressive nose. Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs – a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

Research predicts possible 6,800 new Ebola cases this month

Sat, 20/09/2014 - 00:16

New research published today in the online journal PLoS Outbreaks predicts new Ebola cases could reach 6,800 in West Africa by the end of the month if new control measures are not enacted.

Melanoma risk found to have genetic determinant

Sat, 20/09/2014 - 00:16

A leading Dartmouth researcher, working with The Melanoma Genetics Consortium, GenoMEL, an international research consortium, co-authored a paper published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that proves longer telomeres increase the risk of melanoma.

Parts of genome without a known function may play a key role in the birth of new proteins

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 23:48

Researchers in Biomedical Informatics at IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) and at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have recently published a study in eLife showing that RNA called non-coding (IncRNA) plays an important role in the evolution of new proteins, some of which could have important cell functions yet to be discovered.

Iberian pig genome remains unchanged after 5 centuries

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 23:48

A team of Spanish researchers have obtained the first partial genome sequence of an ancient pig. Extracted from a sixteenth century pig found at the site of the Montsoriu Castle in Girona, the data obtained indicates that this ancient pig is closely related to today's Iberian pig. Researchers also discard the hypothesis that Asian pigs were crossed with modern Iberian pigs.

Counting fish teeth reveals regulatory DNA changes behind rapid evolution, adaptation

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 23:48


These are adult marine (top) and freshwater (bottom) threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) stained with a red dye that labels calcified bone. Sticklebacks, the roaches of the fish world, are the ideal animal in which to study the genes that control body shape. They've moved from the ocean into tens of thousands of freshwater streams and lakes around the world, each time changing their skeleton to adapt to the new environment.

Gut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intolerance

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 23:48


This image depicts gut microbiota. Artificial sweeteners, promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention, could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease; and they do it in a surprising way: by changing the composition and function of the gut microbiota – the substantial population of bacteria residing in our intestines. These findings, the results of experiments in mice and humans, were published today in Nature. Among other things, says Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute's Immunology Department, who led this research together with Prof. Eran Segal of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Department, the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and food may be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping much of the world.

Protein secrets of Ebola virus

Mon, 15/09/2014 - 23:20


This is a ribbon diagram showing the tertiary structure with secondary-structure elements identified and labeled. The current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed more than 2000 lives, has highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the molecular biology of the virus that could be critical in the development of vaccines or antiviral drugs to treat or prevent Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Now, a team at the University of Virginia (UVA), USA – under the leadership of Dr Dan Engel, a virologist, and Dr Zygmunt Derewenda, a structural biologist – has obtained the crystal structure of a key protein involved in Ebola virus replication, the C-terminal domain of the Zaire Ebola virus nucleoprotein (NP) [Dziubanska et al. (2014). Acta Cryst. D70, 2420-2429; doi:10.1107/S1399004714014710].

Gut bacteria tire out T cells

Mon, 15/09/2014 - 23:20

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine on September 15, may explain why these patients suffer from recurrent bacterial infections.

Researchers develop improved means of detecting mismatched DNA

Mon, 15/09/2014 - 23:20

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have identified a highly sensitive means of analyzing very tiny amounts of DNA. The discovery, they say, could increase the ability of forensic scientists to match genetic material in some criminal investigations. It could also prevent the need for a painful, invasive test given to transplant patients at risk of rejecting their donor organs and replace it with a blood test that reveals traces of donor DNA.

Decoding virus-host interactions in the oxygen-starved ocean

Mon, 15/09/2014 - 23:20

For multicellular life—plants and animals—to thrive in the oceans, there must be enough dissolved oxygen in the water. In certain coastal areas, extreme oxygen-starvation produces "dead zones" that decimate marine fisheries and destroy food web structure. As dissolved oxygen levels decline, energy is increasingly diverted away from multicellular life into microbial community metabolism resulting in impacts on the ecology and biogeochemistry of the ocean.

Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene

Mon, 15/09/2014 - 23:20

Neuroscientists have found that a gene mutation that arose more than half a million years ago may be key to humans' unique ability to produce and understand speech.

How skin falls apart: Pathology of autoimmune skin disease is revealed at the nanoscale

Thu, 11/09/2014 - 01:06

University at Buffalo researchers and colleagues studying a rare, blistering disease have discovered new details of how autoantibodies destroy healthy cells in skin. This information provides new insights into autoimmune mechanisms in general and could help develop and screen treatments for patients suffering from all autoimmune diseases, estimated to affect 5-10 percent of the U.S. population.

Less effective DNA repair process takes over as mice age

Thu, 11/09/2014 - 01:06

As we and other vertebrates age, our DNA accumulates mutations and becomes rearranged, which may result in a variety of age-related illnesses, including cancers. Biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov have now discovered one reason for the increasing DNA damage: the primary repair process begins to fail with increasing age and is replaced by one that is less accurate.

Sequencing and analysis of gibbon genome sheds light on its complex evolution

Thu, 11/09/2014 - 01:06


Lucia Carbone, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine and an assistant scientist at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center. A team led by an Oregon Health & Science University researcher has sequenced and annotated the genome of the only ape whose DNA had yet to be sequenced — the gibbon, an endangered small ape that inhabits the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.

New mechanism in gene regulation revealed

Mon, 08/09/2014 - 22:27

The information encoded in our genes is translated into proteins, which ultimately mediate biological functions in an organism. Messenger RNA (mRNA) plays an important role, as it is the molecular template used for translation. Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen and the Technische Universität Muenchen, in collaboration with international colleagues, have now unraveled a molecular mechanism of mRNA recognition, which is essential for understanding differential gene regulation in male and female organisms. The results are published in the renowned scientific journal Nature.

Bacteria from bees possible alternative to antibiotics

Mon, 08/09/2014 - 22:27

Raw honey has been used against infections for millennia, before honey - as we now know it - was manufactured and sold in stores. So what is the key to its' antimicrobial properties? Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds.

Extinctions during human era worse than thought

Wed, 03/09/2014 - 11:17

It's hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was 10 times lower than scientists had thought, which means that the current level is 10 times worse.

Throwing a loop to silence gene expression

Wed, 03/09/2014 - 11:17

All human cells contain essentially the same DNA sequence – their genetic information. How is it possible that shapes and functions of cells in the different parts of the body are so different? While every cell's DNA contains the same construction master plan, an additional regulatory layer exists that determines which of the many possible DNA programs are active. This mechanism involves modifications of genome-bound histone proteins or the DNA itself with small chemical groups (e.g. methylation). It acts on top of the genetic information and is thus called 'epi'-genetic from the corresponding Greek word that means 'above' or 'attached to'.