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New patenting guidelines needed for biotechnology

New patenting guidelines needed for biotechnology

Biotechnology scientists must be aware of the broad patent landscape and push for new patent and licensing guidelines, according to a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Published in the current issue of the journal Regenerative Medicine , the paper is based on the June 2013 U.S Continue reading

For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging

For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging

Telling someone to “act your age” is another way of asking him or her to behave better. Age, however, does not always bring improvements. Certain cells of the immune system tend to misbehave with age, leaving the elderly more vulnerable to illness Continue reading

Applying math to biology: Software identifies disease-causing mutations in undiagnosed illnesses

Applying math to biology: Software identifies disease-causing mutations in undiagnosed illnesses

A computational tool developed at the University of Utah (U of U) has successfully identified diseases with unknown gene mutations in three separate cases, U of U researchers and their colleagues report in a new study in The American Journal of Human Genetics . The software, Phevor (Phenotype Driven Variant Ontological Re-ranking tool), identifies undiagnosed illnesses and unknown gene mutations by analyzing the exomes, or areas of DNA where proteins that code for genes are made, in individual patients and small families. Sequencing the genomes of individuals or small families often produces false predictions of mutations that cause diseases. Continue reading

Life stressors trigger neurological disorders, researchers find

Life stressors trigger neurological disorders, researchers find

When mothers are exposed to trauma, illness, alcohol or other drug abuse, these stressors may activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that can go awry and activate conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and some forms of autism. Until now, it has been unclear how much these stressors have impacted the cells of a developing brain. Past studies have shown that when an expectant mother exposes herself to alcohol or drug abuse or she experiences some trauma or illness, her baby may later develop a psychiatric disorder, including some forms of autism or post-traumatic stress disorder, later in life. Continue reading

Researchers identify a new variant of Ebola virus in Guinea

Researchers identify a new variant of Ebola virus in Guinea

In an article which appeared in The New England journal of Medicine on 16 April, researchers from Inserm (Jean Mérieux-Inserm BSL-4 Laboratory, Lyon) and the Institut Pasteur have published their initial findings on the characteristics of the Ebola virus discovered in Guinea. Initial virological investigations enabled them to identify Zaire ebolavirus as the pathogen responsible for this epidemic. Performed in less than a month, sequencing of the complete genome and subsequent phylogenetic analysis show that the virus present in Guinea forms a clade (variant) that is distinct from strains previously identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Gabon. Continue reading

Novel function of protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease discovered

Novel function of protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease discovered

A research team led by the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) has uncovered a novel function of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP), one of the main pathogenic culprits of Alzheimer’s disease. This discovery may help researchers understand how the protein goes awry in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, and potentially paves the way for the development of innovative therapeutics to improve the brain function of dementia patients. The findings were published in the scientific research journal Nature Communications last month Continue reading

A protein required for integrity of induced pluripotent stem cells

A protein required for integrity of induced pluripotent stem cells

Cell reprogramming converts specialised cells such as nerve cells or skin cells towards an embryonic stem cell state. This reversal in the evolutionary development of cells also requires a reversal in the biology of telomeres, the structures that protect the ends of chromosomes; whilst under normal conditions telomeres shorten over time, during cell reprogramming they follow the opposite strategy and increase in length. A study published today in the journal Stem Cell Reports , from the Cell Publishing Group, reveals that the SIRT1 protein is needed to lengthen and maintain telomeres during cell reprogramming Continue reading

Why alcoholism saps muscle strength

Why alcoholism saps muscle strength

Muscle weakness is a common symptom of both long-time alcoholics and patients with mitochondrial disease. Continue reading

Immune cells to be tested on the International Space Station

Immune cells to be tested on the International Space Station

The human body is fine-tuned to Earth’s gravity. A team headed by Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Anatomy is now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to study whether this also applies to human cells Continue reading

Immune cells to be tested on the International Space Station

Immune cells to be tested on the International Space Station

The human body is fine-tuned to Earth’s gravity. A team headed by Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Anatomy is now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to study whether this also applies to human cells. On the evening of April 18, the transporter spaceship Dragon lifted off from the Cape Canaveral launch center in Florida with a cargo of UZH immune cells on board. Continue reading