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Scientists build new ‘off switch’ to shut down neural activity

Scientists build new ‘off switch’ to shut down neural activity

Nearly a decade ago, the era of optogenetics was ushered in with the development of channelrhodopsins, light-activated ion channels that can, with the flick of a switch, instantaneously turn on neurons in which they are genetically expressed. What has lagged behind, however, is the ability to use light to inactivate neurons with an equal level of reliability and efficiency. Now, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists have used an analysis of channelrhodopsin’s molecular structure to guide a series of genetic mutations to the ion channel that grant the power to silence neurons with an unprecedented level of control Continue reading

Scientists build new ‘off switch’ to shut down neural activity

Scientists build new ‘off switch’ to shut down neural activity

Nearly a decade ago, the era of optogenetics was ushered in with the development of channelrhodopsins, light-activated ion channels that can, with the flick of a switch, instantaneously turn on neurons in which they are genetically expressed. What has lagged behind, however, is the ability to use light to inactivate neurons with an equal level of reliability and efficiency. Now, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists have used an analysis of channelrhodopsin’s molecular structure to guide a series of genetic mutations to the ion channel that grant the power to silence neurons with an unprecedented level of control Continue reading

You may have billions and billions of good reasons for being unfit

You may have billions and billions of good reasons for being unfit

Although our chromosomes are relatively stable within our lifetimes, the genetic material found in our mitochondria is highly variable across individuals and may impact upon human health, say researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Genomes are changing, not just from generation to generation, but even and in fact within our individual cells Continue reading

You may have billions and billions of good reasons for being unfit

You may have billions and billions of good reasons for being unfit

Although our chromosomes are relatively stable within our lifetimes, the genetic material found in our mitochondria is highly variable across individuals and may impact upon human health, say researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Genomes are changing, not just from generation to generation, but even and in fact within our individual cells Continue reading

New target for prostate cancer resistant to anti-hormone therapies

New target for prostate cancer resistant to anti-hormone therapies

Prostate cancer becomes deadly when anti-hormone treatments stop working. Now a new study suggests a way to block the hormones at their entrance Continue reading

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

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

Target for treating dengue fever discovered

Target for treating dengue fever discovered

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other disease-causing flaviviruses. Jeffrey S. Continue reading

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus neoformans — a fungus responsible for a million cases of pneumonia and meningitis every year — are so malleable and dangerous Continue reading

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

In a new study, researchers from North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and other institutions have taken the first steps toward creating a roadmap that may help scientists narrow down the genetic cause of numerous diseases. Their work also sheds new light on how heredity and environment can affect gene expression. Continue reading