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New breast cancer classification based on epigenetics

Wed, 10/12/2014 - 23:09


This is an image of a breast tumor identified as Epi-Luminal B of poor prognosis. Breast cancer is the most common in women. One in nine will suffer breast cancer over their lifetime. Progress in prevention and early detection, and the use of chemotherapy after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy), have achieved significantly increase survival in this disease in the last ten years, but much remains to be done.

New way to turn genes on

Wed, 10/12/2014 - 23:09

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells.

Genome sequencing traces MRSA spread in high transmission setting

Tue, 09/12/2014 - 23:20


A scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) magnified 2381x. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a common cause of hospital-acquired infections, with the largest burden of infections occurring in under-resourced hospitals. While genome sequencing has previously been applied in well-resourced clinical settings to track the spread of MRSA, transmission dynamics in settings with more limited infection control is unknown. In a study published online today in Genome Research, researchers used genome sequencing to understand the spread of MRSA in a resource-limited hospital with high transmission rates.

Ancient engravings rewrite human history

Tue, 09/12/2014 - 23:20


This is Dr Stephen Munro at the School of Anthropology and Archaeology at ANU. An international team of scientists has discovered the earliest known engravings from human ancestors on a 400,000 year-old fossilised shell from Java.

Response to viral infections depends on the entry route of the virus

Thu, 04/12/2014 - 23:33


Insect muscle cells are marked in red, cell nuclei (DNA) in blue and virus in green. Insects can transmit viral diseases to humans. Therefore, understanding how insects cope with viral infection, and what immune mechanisms are triggered, can be important to stop diseases transmission. In a study published in this week's issue of the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens*, researchers from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC; Portugal) now show that the entry route of the virus changes how the insect host responds to it. Using the fruit flies as a model of study, they discovered an immune mechanism that is specifically effective when flies are infected through feeding.

Mini chromosomes that strengthen tumors

Thu, 04/12/2014 - 23:33

Cancers are due to genetic aberrations in certain cells that gain the ability to divide indefinitely. This proliferation of sick cells generates tumors, which gradually invade healthy tissue. Therefore, current therapies essentially seek to destroy cancer cells to stop their proliferation. Through high-throughput genetic sequencing of glioblastoma cells, one of the most deadly brain tumors, a team of geneticists from the University of Geneva's (UNIGE) Faculty of Medicine discovered that some of these mutations are caused by supplemental extrachromosomal DNA fragments, called double minutes, which enable cancer cells to better adapt to their environment and therefore better resist to treatments meant to destroy them. Read more in Nature Communications.

New single-cell analysis reveals complex variations in stem cells

Thu, 04/12/2014 - 23:33

Stem cells offer great potential in biomedical engineering due to their pluripotency, which is the ability to multiply indefinitely and also to differentiate and develop into any kind of the hundreds of different cells and bodily tissues. But the precise complexity of how stem cell development is regulated throughout states of cellular change has been difficult to pinpoint until now.

Revealed: How bacteria drill into our cells and kill them

Tue, 02/12/2014 - 23:51

A team of scientists has revealed how certain harmful bacteria drill into our cells to kill them. Their study shows how bacterial 'nanodrills' assemble themselves on the outer surfaces of our cells, and includes the first movie of how they then punch holes in the cells' outer membranes. The research, published today in the journal eLife, supports the development of new drugs that target this mechanism, which is implicated in serious diseases. The team brings together researchers from UCL, Birkbeck, University of London, the University of Leicester, and Monash University (Melbourne).

King Richard III -- case closed after 529 years

Tue, 02/12/2014 - 23:51


Pictured here are Dr. Turi King and Professor Kevin Schürer from the University of Leicester. International research led by the University of Leicester published in Nature Communications reveals:

  • Analysis of all the available evidence confirms identity of King Richard III to the point of 99.999% (at its most conservative).
  • Analysis of the mitochondrial DNA shows a match between Richard III and modern female-line relatives, Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig.
  • The male line of descent is broken at one or more points in the line between Richard III and living male-line relatives descended from Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort.
  • King Richard was almost certainly blue-eyed and probably had blond hair at least during his childhood.
  • The portrait which appears to most closely match the genetically-determined hair and eye colour is the Arched-Frame Portrait in the Society of Antiquaries.

bioliq: Complete process chain is running

Mon, 01/12/2014 - 23:25


Taking a sample from the synthesis plant: professor Jörg Sauer, spokesman of the bioliq® project (right), with the operations manager of the synthesis plant, Ulrich Galla (left), and Daniel Richter... The pilot project funded by the Federation, State, and EU was implemented by KIT in cooperation with several industry partners. The investment totals EUR 64 million.

Mass extinction led to many new species of bony fish

Mon, 01/12/2014 - 23:25


Cartilaginous fishes were very diverse during the Permian period. However, after severe losses among cartilaginous fishes during the Middle Permian extinction, bony fishes experienced a massive diversification in the subsequent... Today, ray-finned fish, which belong to the bony fish, are by far the most biodiverse fish group in both salt- and freshwater. Their spectacular variety of forms ranges from eels, tuna, flounders and angler fish all the way to seahorses. With around 1,100 species, the second most biodiverse group is the cartilaginous fish, which are almost exclusively marine and include sharks, rays and chimaeras. Exactly why bony fish managed to prevail in different habitats is the subject of debate: Do they have a better body plan, which is suited to more ecological niches than that of the cartilaginous fish? Or are other factors involved in their successful distribution? Paleontologists from the University of Zurich now reveal that climate catastrophes in the past played a crucial role in the dominance of ray-finned fish today.

Taking the 'mute' off silenced gene may be answer to Angelman syndrome

Mon, 01/12/2014 - 23:25

Most genes are inherited as two working copies, one from the mother and one from the father. However, in a few instances, a gene is imprinted, which means that one copy is silenced. This is called genomic imprinting. If the active copy is mutated, then disease results, even though the silenced gene copy may be normal.

Notre Dame biologist leads sequencing of the genomes of malaria-carrying mosquitoes

Thu, 27/11/2014 - 23:36

Nora Besansky, O'Hara Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the University's Eck Institute for Global Health, has led an international team of scientists in sequencing the genomes of 16 Anopheles mosquito species from around the world.

Fragile X study offers hope of new autism treatment

Thu, 27/11/2014 - 23:36

People affected by a common inherited form of autism could be helped by a drug that is being tested as a treatment for cancer.

Two studies identify a detectable, pre-cancerous state in the blood

Thu, 27/11/2014 - 00:23

Researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard-affiliated hospitals have uncovered an easily detectable, "pre-malignant" state in the blood that significantly increases the likelihood that an individual will go on to develop blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myelodysplastic syndrome. The discovery, which was made independently by two research teams affiliated with the Broad and partner institutions, opens new avenues for research aimed at early detection and prevention of blood cancer. Findings from both teams appear this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

ASU, IBM move ultrafast, low-cost DNA sequencing technology a step closer to reality

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 21:47

A team of scientists from Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute and IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center have developed a prototype DNA reader that could make whole genome profiling an everyday practice in medicine.

Lionfish analysis reveals most vulnerable prey as invasion continues

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 21:47


Stephanie Green studies lionfish in The Bahamas. If you live in lionfish territory in the Atlantic Ocean, the last thing you want to be is a small fish with a long, skinny body, resting by yourself at night, near the bottom of the seafloor.

Intrepid scientific explorer recounts lifetime of work and adventure in Amazon

Thu, 20/11/2014 - 23:24

Drawing on nearly five decades of experience, Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, one of the seminal scientific explorers of the Amazon rain forest in modern times, chronicles some of his most significant and fascinating expeditions in That Glorious Forest: Exploring the Plants and Their Indigenous Uses in Amazonia, now available from The New York Botanical Garden Press.

Imagination, reality flow in opposite directions in the brain

Thu, 20/11/2014 - 23:24


Electrical and computer engineering professor Barry Van Veen wears an electrode net used to monitor brain activity via EEG signals. As real as that daydream may seem, its path through your brain runs opposite reality.

Ancient genetic program employed in more than just fins and limbs

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 23:18

Hox genes are master body-building genes that specify where an animal's head, tail and everything in between should go. There's even a special Hox gene program that directs the development of limbs and fins, including specific modifications such as the thumb in mice and humans. Now, San Francisco State University researchers show that this fin- and limb-building genetic program is also utilized during the development of other vertebrate features.