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Updated: 53 min 35 sec ago

Search technique helps researchers find DNA sequences in minutes rather than days

Mon, 08/02/2016 - 21:12

Database searches for DNA sequences that can take biologists and medical researchers days can now be completed in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new search method developed by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University.

Scientists discover a unique mechanism for a high-risk leukemia

Mon, 08/02/2016 - 21:12

A research team led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists has discovered details of how the abnormal breakage and rearrangement of chromosomes in white blood cells triggers a particularly aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Such leukemias are cancers of white blood cells, in which genetic mutations trigger overproduction of immature cells, called lymphoblasts.

Zika virus: 5 things to know

Mon, 08/02/2016 - 21:12

A concise "Five things to know about.... Zika virus infection" article for physicians highlights key points about this newly emerged virus in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Adenosine deaminase may help the immune system fight HIV on its own

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 21:38

New research findings published in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggest that a new therapeutic strategy for HIV may already be available by repurposing an existing prescription drug. The drug, an enzyme called adenosine deaminase, or ADA, ultimately may be able to activate the immune system against HIV and to help the immune system "remember" the virus to prevent or quickly eliminate future infection.

Scientists have put a high precision blood assay into a simple test strip

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 21:38

Researchers from the General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (GPI RAS) and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) have developed a new biosensor test system based on magnetic nanoparticles. It is designed to provide highly accurate measurements of the concentration of protein molecules (e.g. markers, which indicate the onset or development of a disease) in various samples, including opaque solutions or strongly coloured liquids.

'Junk' DNA plays role in preventing breast cancer

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 21:38

Supposed "junk" DNA, found in between genes, plays a role in suppressing cancer, according to new research by Universities of Bath and Cambridge. The human genome contains around three metres of DNA, of which only about two per cent contains genes that code for proteins. Since the sequencing of the complete human genome in 2000, scientists have puzzled over the role of the remaining 98 per cent.

New method for detecting and preserving human stem cells in the lab

Mon, 01/02/2016 - 21:08

Human stem cells that are capable of becoming any other kind of cell in the body have previously only been acquired and cultivated with difficulty. A team of European scientists including researchers from the University of Bath has now developed a method to detect such pluripotent cells in a cell culture and preserve them in the laboratory.

Why do scientists chase unicorns?

Mon, 01/02/2016 - 21:08

Scientists chase unicorns because if they could prove the existence of the magical beasts, the world would be a better place.

Scientists discover stem cells capable of repairing skull, face bones

Mon, 01/02/2016 - 21:08

A team of Rochester scientists has, for the first time, identified and isolated a stem cell population capable of skull formation and craniofacial bone repair in mice--achieving an important step toward using stem cells for bone reconstruction of the face and head in the future, according to a new paper in Nature Communications.

Scientists discover protein's starring role in genome stability, and possibly cancer prevention

Fri, 29/01/2016 - 01:54


The scientists found that genome instability increases in cells as XPG levels decrease. The green spots mark locations of DNA double-strand breaks. If you have a soft spot for unsung heroes, you'll love a DNA repair protein called XPG. Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) discovered that XPG plays a previously unknown and critical role helping to maintain genome stability in human cells. Their findings also raise the possibility that the protein helps prevent breast, ovarian, and other cancers associated with defective BRCA genes.

The brain communicates on several channels

Fri, 29/01/2016 - 01:54

In the brain, the visual cortex processes visual information and passes it from lower to higher areas of the brain. However, information also flows in the opposite direction, e.g. to direct attention to particular stimuli. But how does the brain know which path the information should take? Researchers at the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Frankfurt in Cooperation with Max Planck Society have now demonstrated that the visual cortex of human subjects uses different frequency channels depending on the direction in which information is being transported. Their findings were only possible thanks to previous research with macaque monkeys. They might help to understand the cause of psychiatric illnesses in which the two channels appear to be mixed up.

Epigenetic switch for obesity

Fri, 29/01/2016 - 01:54

It is well known that a predisposition to adiposity lies in our genes. A new study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg now shows that it is also crucial how these genes are regulated. The scientists led by Andrew Pospisilik discovered a novel regulatory, epigenetic switch, which causes individuals with identical genetic material, such as monozygotic twins, to either be lean or obese. Interestingly, much like a classical light switch there are only two discrete outcomes -- ON and OFF, or rather obese and not obese -- not continuous increments as with a dimmer. These new insights fundamentally alter our understanding of how epigenetics influences gene outcomes.

Resistance to key HIV drug 'concerningly common'

Fri, 29/01/2016 - 01:54

HIV drug resistance to tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug vital to most modern HIV treatment and prevention strategies, is surprisingly and worryingly common according to a large study led by UCL (University College London) and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Lizards camouflage themselves by choosing rocks that best match the color of their backs

Mon, 25/01/2016 - 21:50


Aegean wall lizard resting on rock Resting out in the open on rocks can be a risky business for Aegean wall lizards. Out in these habitats they have nowhere to hide and their backs, which show varying shades of green and brown between individuals, are dangerously exposed to birds hunting in the skies above.

Scientists shed new light on workings of genetic regulation

Mon, 25/01/2016 - 21:50

A team of scientists has uncovered greater intricacy in protein signaling than was previously understood, shedding new light on the nature of genetic production.

Hacking the programs of cancer stem cells

Mon, 25/01/2016 - 21:50


A new inhibitor suppresses tumor growth and cancer stem cells. The image on the left shows beta catenin (red) in cell nuclei indicating that these are cancer stem cells. All tumor cells are the offspring of a single, aberrant cell, but they are not all alike. Only a few retain the capacity of the original cell to create an entire tumor. Such cancer stem cells can migrate to other tissues and become fatal metastases. To fully cure a patient's cancer, it is crucial to find and eliminate all of these cells because any that escape can regenerate the tumor and trigger its spread through the body.

The neurons in our gut help the immune system keep inflammation in check

Sat, 23/01/2016 - 08:39

The immune system exercises constant vigilance to protect the body from external threats--including what we eat and drink. A careful balancing act plays out as digested food travels through the intestine. Immune cells must remain alert to protect against harmful pathogens like Salmonella, but their activity also needs to be tempered since an overreaction can lead to too much inflammation and permanent tissue damage.

60 genetic disorders affect skin and nervous system

Sat, 23/01/2016 - 08:39

One of the most common genetic disorders is a condition called neurofibromatosis, which causes brown spots on the skin and benign tumors on the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system.

Two proteins control the growth of the heart and its adaptation to high blood pressure

Sat, 23/01/2016 - 08:39


A histological section of a heart. Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) have identified how two proteins control the growth of the heart and its adaptation to high blood pressure (hypertension). Lead investigator Dr. Guadalupe Sabio explains that the results, described in Nature Communications, not only increase our understanding of the mechanisms used by cardiac cells to grow and adapt, but could also help in the design of new strategies to treat heart failure caused by excessive growth of the heart. The study, carried out by Dr. Sabio and CNIC investigator Bárbara Gonzalez-Terán, shows for the first time that two proteins, p38 gamma and p38 delta, control heart growth.

Beetle-inspired discovery could reduce frost's costly sting

Sat, 23/01/2016 - 08:39

In a discovery that may lead to ways to prevent frost on airplane parts, condenser coils, and even windshields, a team of researchers led by Virginia Tech has used chemical micropatterns to control the growth of frost caused by condensation.