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Updated: 20 min 54 sec ago

Breaking bad mitochondria

22 hours 51 min ago


Mitochondria in hepatitis C-infected cells (bottom row) are self-destructing. The self-annihilation process explains the persistance and virulence of the virus in human liver cells. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a mechanism that explains why people with the hepatitis C virus get liver disease and why the virus is able to persist in the body for so long.

Lifestyle determines gut microbes

22 hours 51 min ago


This shows Hadza women roasting tubers. The gut microbiota is responsible for many aspects of human health and nutrition, but most studies have focused on "western" populations. An international collaboration of researchers, including researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has for the first time analysed the gut microbiota of a modern hunter-gatherer community, the Hadza of Tanzania. The results of this work show that Hadza harbour a unique microbial profile with features yet unseen in any other human group, supporting the notion that Hadza gut bacteria play an essential role in adaptation to a foraging subsistence pattern. The study further shows how the intestinal flora may have helped our ancestors adapt and survive during the Paleolithic

Virus-fighting genes linked to mutations in cancer

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 01:22

Researchers have found a major piece of genetic evidence that confirms the role of a group of virus-fighting genes in cancer development.

'MicroRNA' could be key target for bowel cancer treatment

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 01:22

Scientists found that the molecule, called microRNA 135b, is a vital 'worker' employed by several important cancer genes to drive the growth of bowel cancers.

Splice variants reveal connections among autism genes

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 01:52


Splicing variants (red) of autism genes were cloned from the brain and screened for interactions. The image on the right represents the network of interactions. A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has uncovered a new aspect of autism, revealing that proteins involved in autism interact with many more partners than previously known. These interactions had not been detected earlier because they involve alternatively spliced forms of autism genes found in the brain.

Berkeley graduate student brings extinct plants to life

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 01:52


The 375 million-year-old fossil lycopod Leclercqia scolopendra, described and beautifully rendered by UC Berkeley graduate student Jeffrey Benca. Jeff Benca is an admitted über-geek when it comes to prehistoric plants, so it was no surprise that, when he submitted a paper describing a new species of long-extinct lycopod for publication, he ditched the standard line drawing and insisted on a detailed and beautifully rendered color reconstruction of the plant. This piece earned the cover of March's centennial issue of the American Journal of Botany.

Researchers show fruit flies have latent bioluminescence

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 23:44

New research from scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School shows that fruit flies are secretly harboring the biochemistry needed to glow in the dark —otherwise known as bioluminescence.

Plants evolve ways to control embryo growth

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 23:44


This is a confocal laser scanning microcope image of an early embryo with surrounding placental endosperm cells. A new generation of high yield plants could be created following a fundamental change in our understanding of how plants develop.

Ancient 'spider' images reveal eye-opening secrets

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 23:44

Stunning images of a 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil reveal ancestors of the modern-day arachnids had two sets of eyes rather than one.

Scientists reconstruct ancient impact that dwarfs dinosaur-extinction blast

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 00:20


A graphical representation of the size of the asteroid thought to have killed the dinosaurs, and the crater it created, compared to an asteroid thought to have hit the Earth... Picture this: A massive asteroid almost as wide as Rhode Island and about three to five times larger than the rock thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs slams into Earth. The collision punches a crater into the planet's crust that's nearly 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) across: greater than the distance from Washington, D.C. to New York City, and up to two and a half times larger in diameter than the hole formed by the dinosaur-killing asteroid. Seismic waves bigger than any recorded earthquakes shake the planet for about half an hour at any one location – about six times longer than the huge earthquake that struck Japan three years ago. The impact also sets off tsunamis many times deeper than the one that followed the Japanese quake.

One of the last strongholds for Western chimpanzees

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 00:20


Logistics were extremely challenging because Liberia's infrastructure was almost completely destroyed during the civil war and because of the remoteness of some of the survey locations. When Liberia enters the news it is usually in the context of civil war, economic crisis, poverty or a disease outbreak such as the recent emergence of Ebola in West Africa. Liberia's status as a biodiversity hotspot and the fact that it is home to some of the last viable and threatened wildlife populations in West Africa has received little media attention in the past. This is partly because the many years of violent conflict in Liberia, from 1989 to 1997 and from 2002 to 2003, thwarted efforts of biologists to conduct biological surveys. An international research team, including scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has now counted chimpanzees and other large mammals living in Liberia. The census revealed that this country is home to 7000 chimpanzees and therefore to the second largest population of the Western subspecies of chimpanzees. As Liberia has released large areas for deforestation, the local decision-makers can now use the results of this study in order to protect the chimpanzees more effectively.

Breakthrough therapy allows 4 paraplegic men to voluntarily move their legs

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 23:58

Four young men who have been paralyzed for years achieved groundbreaking progress — moving their legs — as a result of epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, an international team of life scientists reports today in the medical journal Brain.

Synthetic gene circuits pump up cell signals

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 23:58

Synthetic genetic circuitry created by researchers at Rice University is helping them see, for the first time, how to regulate cell mechanisms that degrade the misfolded proteins implicated in Parkinson's, Huntington's and other diseases.

Ancient shrimp-like animals had 'modern' hearts and blood vessels

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 00:34


This image shows the dorsal view of Fuxianhuia protensa. An international team of researchers from the University of Arizona, China and the United Kingdom has discovered the earliest known cardiovascular system, and the first to clearly show a sophisticated system complete with heart and blood vessels, in fossilized remains of an extinct marine creature that lived over half a billion years ago. The finding sheds new light on the evolution of body organization in the animal kingdom and shows that even the earliest creatures had internal organizational systems that strongly resemble those found in their modern descendants.

Gene sequencing project discovers mutations tied to deadly brain tumors in young children

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 00:34

The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital-Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project has identified new mutations in pediatric brain tumors known as high-grade gliomas (HGGs), which most often occur in the youngest patients. The research appears today as an advance online publication in the scientific journal Nature Genetics.

Nanoparticles cause cancer cells to self-destruct

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 21:57

Using magnetically controlled nanoparticles to force tumour cells to 'self-destruct' sounds like science fiction, but could be a future part of cancer treatment, according to research from Lund University in Sweden.

Tumor suppressor gene TP53 mutated in 90 percent of most common childhood bone tumor

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 21:57

The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital—Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project found mutations in the tumor suppressor gene TP53 in 90 percent of osteosarcomas, suggesting the alteration plays a key role early in development of the bone cancer. The research was published today online ahead of print in the journal Cell Reports.

The human 'hairless' gene identified: One form of baldness explained

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 23:13

It's not a hair-brained idea: A new research report appearing in the April 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal explains why people with a rare balding condition called "atrichia with papular lesions" lose their hair, and it identifies a strategy for reversing this hair loss. Specifically the report shows for the first time that the "human hairless gene" imparts an essential role in hair biology by regulating a subset of other hair genes. This newly discovered molecular function likely explains why mutations in the hairless gene contribute to the pathogenesis of atrichia with papular lesions. In addition, this gene also has also been shown to function as a tumor suppressor gene in the skin, raising hope for developing new approaches in the treatment of skin disorders and/or some cancers.

Scientists solve the riddle of zebras' stripes

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 23:13


UC Davis scientists have learned why zebras, like these plains zebras in Katavi National Park, Tanzania, have stripes. Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. A research team led by the University of California, Davis, has now examined this riddle systematically. Their answer is published April 1 in the online journal Nature Communications.

Nano-paper filter removes viruses

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 23:12

Nanotechnology and Functional Materials, Uppsala University have developed a paper filter, which can remove virus particles with the efficiency matching that of the best industrial virus filters. The paper filter consists of 100 percent high purity cellulose nanofibers, directly derived from nature.