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Human brains age less than previously thought

15 hours 54 min ago

Older brains may be more similar to younger brains than previously thought.

In vivo CRISPR-Cas9 screen sheds light on cancer metastasis and tumor evolution

15 hours 54 min ago

For the first time, CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology has been employed in a whole organism model to systematically target every gene in the genome. A team of scientists at the Broad Institute and MIT's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have pioneered the use of this technology to "knock out," or turn off, all genes across the genome systematically in an animal model of cancer, revealing genes involved in tumor evolution and metastasis and paving the way for similar studies in other cell types and diseases. The work appears online March 5 in Cell.

Gut microbial mix relates to stages of blood sugar control

15 hours 54 min ago

The composition of intestinal bacteria and other micro-organisms--called the gut microbiota--changes over time in unhealthy ways in black men who are prediabetic, a new study finds. The results will be presented Friday at the Endocrine Society's 97th annual meeting in San Diego.

Activating genes on demand

Wed, 04/03/2015 - 23:40

When it comes to gene expression - the process by which our DNA provides the recipe used to direct the synthesis of proteins and other molecules that we need for development and survival - scientists have so far studied one single gene at a time. A new approach developed by Harvard geneticist George Church, Ph.D., can help uncover how tandem gene circuits dictate life processes, such as the healthy development of tissue or the triggering of a particular disease, and can also be used for directing precision stem cell differentiation for regenerative medicine and growing organ transplants.

People use handshakes to sniff each other out

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 23:39


Scientists find that people use the touch of a handshake to sample and sniff signaling molecules. A sterile glove was used to identify signaling molecules transmitted via a handshake. Limp or firm, your handshake conveys subliminal social cues. Now, research reveals it also transmits chemical signals that could explain why the greeting evolved in the first place.

Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 23:39

Scientists at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology have discovered a new hormone that fights the weight gain caused by a high-fat Western diet and normalizes the metabolism - effects commonly associated with exercising.

Scientists map memorable tunes in the rat brain

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 23:39


Scientists mapped and read sound memories in rat brains. Lights, sound, action: we are constantly learning how to incorporate outside sensations into our reactions in specific situations. In a new study, brain scientists have mapped changes in communication between nerve cells as rats learned to make specific decisions in response to particular sounds. The team then used this map to accurately predict the rats' reactions. These results add to our understanding of how the brain processes sensations and forms memories to inform behavior.

The environment may change, but the microbiome of queen bees does not

Mon, 02/03/2015 - 23:03


The queen bee in this image is marked with a green dot. Researchers from North Carolina State University, Indiana University and Wellesley College have characterized the gut microbiome of honey bee queens. This is the first thorough census of the gut microbiome - which consists of all the microorganisms that live in the gut of the organism - in queen bees.

Unlocking the key to immunological memory in bacteria

Mon, 02/03/2015 - 23:03


Bacteria and archaea "remember " viral infections by inserting short spacer sequences (toe-tagged) of genetic information stolen from the invader between repeat elements (gray) of the host's genomic CRISPR loci. A powerful genome editing tool may soon become even more powerful. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have unlocked the key to how bacteria are able to "steal" genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system.

Gorilla origins of the last two AIDS virus lineages confirmed

Mon, 02/03/2015 - 23:03

Two of the four known groups of human AIDS viruses (HIV-1 groups O and P) have originated in western lowland gorillas, according to an international team of scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Montpellier, the University of Edinburgh, and others. The scientists, led by Martine Peeters from Montpellier, conducted a comprehensive survey of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection in African gorillas. Beatrice Hahn, MD, a professor of Medicine and Microbiology, and others from Penn were part of the team, whose findings appear online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mind-readers: Scientists crack a piece of the neural code for learning and memory

Mon, 02/03/2015 - 23:03

Cold Spring Harbor, NY - It sounds like the stuff of science fiction: researchers slice a brain into thin little sections and, just by measuring the properties of specific neurons, they can determine what an organism learned before it died. In fact, this sort of mind reading has become a reality. In work published today in Nature, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) describe how postmortem brain slices can be "read" to determine how a rat was trained to behave in response to specific sounds. The work provides one of the first examples of how specific changes in the activity of individual neurons encode particular acts of learning and memory in the brain.

Aggressive plant fungus threatens wheat production

Fri, 27/02/2015 - 00:59

The spread of exotic and aggressive strains of a plant fungus is presenting a serious threat to wheat production in the UK, according to research published in Genome Biology. The research uses a new surveillance technique that could be applied internationally to respond to the spread of a wide variety of plant diseases.

Fighting the Colorado potato beetle with RNA interference

Fri, 27/02/2015 - 00:59


Feeding experiment with different potato leaves: Detached leaves of unmodified plants were compared to plants with an altered chloroplast genome. Colorado potato beetles are a dreaded pest of potatoes all over the world. Since they do not have natural enemies in most potato producing regions, farmers try to control them with pesticides. However, this strategy is often ineffective because the pest has developed resistances against nearly all insecticides. Now, scientists from the Max Planck Institutes of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam-Golm and Chemical Ecology in Jena have shown that potato plants can be protected from herbivory using RNA interference (RNAi). They genetically modified plants to enable their chloroplasts to accumulate double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeted against essential beetle genes. (Science, February 2015).

How mantis shrimp evolved many shapes with same powerful punch

Fri, 27/02/2015 - 00:59


Mantis shrimp attack their dinners with the help of spring-loaded claws. DURHAM, N.C. -- The miniweight boxing title of the animal world belongs to the mantis shrimp, a cigar-sized crustacean whose front claws can deliver an explosive 60-mile-per-hour blow akin to a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun.

Hidden gene gives hope for improving brain function

Wed, 25/02/2015 - 23:29

U.S. and Australian scientists have found the mechanism a novel gene uses to affect brain function and elicit behavior related to neuropsychiatric disease.

Sewage provides insight into human microbiome

Wed, 25/02/2015 - 23:29

A new study demonstrates that sewage is an effective means to sample the fecal bacteria from millions of people. Researchers say the information gleaned from the work provides a unique opportunity to monitor, through gut microbes, the public health of a large population without compromising the privacy of individuals.

UC Davis leads new effort in functional annotation of animal genomes

Tue, 24/02/2015 - 23:22

Scientists and breeders working with poultry and livestock species will get a new set of tools from an international project that includes the University of California, Davis.

Great Barrier Reef corals eat plastic

Tue, 24/02/2015 - 23:22


These are corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.

Quick test for Ebola

Tue, 24/02/2015 - 09:27

When diagnosing a case of Ebola, time is of the essence. However, existing diagnostic tests take at least a day or two to yield results, preventing health care workers from quickly determining whether a patient needs immediate treatment and isolation.

Retracing the roots of fungal symbioses

Tue, 24/02/2015 - 09:27

With apologies to the poet John Donne, and based on recent work from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), a DOE Office of Science user facility, it can be said that no plant is an island, entire of itself. Unseen by the human eye, plants interact with many species of fungi and other microbes in the surrounding environment, and these exchanges can impact the plant's health and tolerance to stressors such as drought or disease, as well as the global carbon cycle.