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Molecular motor for packaging virus DNA found, may lead to targeted antiviral drugs

Molecular motor for packaging virus DNA found, may lead to targeted antiviral drugs

Viruses are the enigma of the biological world — despite having their own DNA and being able to adapt to their environment and evolve, they are not considered to be alive like cells. In order to reproduce and multiply — a requirement of “life” — a virus must invade a living cell, eject its DNA into that of the cell, and commandeer the cell’s biological machinery. Continue reading

Galectins direct immunity against bacteria that employ camouflage

Galectins direct immunity against bacteria that employ camouflage

Our bodies produce a family of proteins that recognize and kill bacteria whose carbohydrate coatings resemble those of our own cells too closely, scientists have discovered. Called galectins, these proteins recognize carbohydrates from a broad range of disease-causing bacteria, and could potentially be deployed as antibiotics to treat certain infections. Continue reading

Patient stem cells used to make ‘heart disease-on-a-chip’

Patient stem cells used to make ‘heart disease-on-a-chip’

Harvard scientists have merged stem cell and ‘organ-on-a-chip’ technologies to grow, for the first time, functioning human heart tissue carrying an inherited cardiovascular disease. The research appears to be a big step forward for personalized medicine, as it is working proof that a chunk of tissue containing a patient’s specific genetic disorder can be replicated in the laboratory Continue reading

Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction

Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction

In a paper published in the latest issue of the neuroscience journal Neuron , McLean Hospital investigators report that a gene essential for normal brain development, and previously linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders, also plays a critical role in addiction-related behaviors. Continue reading

Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction

Autism-related protein shown to play vital role in addiction

In a paper published in the latest issue of the neuroscience journal Neuron , McLean Hospital investigators report that a gene essential for normal brain development, and previously linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders, also plays a critical role in addiction-related behaviors. “In our lab, we investigate the brain mechanisms behind drug addiction — a common and devastating disease with limited treatment options,” explained Christopher Cowan, PhD, director of the Integrated Neurobiology Laboratory at McLean and an associate professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Continue reading

Rare, childhood neurodegenerative diseases linked to common problem in DNA repair

Rare, childhood neurodegenerative diseases linked to common problem in DNA repair

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists studying two rare, inherited childhood neurodegenerative disorders have identified a new, possibly common source of DNA damage that may play a role in other neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and aging. Continue reading

Rare, childhood neurodegenerative diseases linked to common problem in DNA repair

Rare, childhood neurodegenerative diseases linked to common problem in DNA repair

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists studying two rare, inherited childhood neurodegenerative disorders have identified a new, possibly common source of DNA damage that may play a role in other neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and aging. Continue reading

Gene behind highly prevalent facial anomaly found

Gene behind highly prevalent facial anomaly found

Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a genetic cause of a facial disorder known as hemifacial microsomia (HFM). The researchers find that duplication of the gene OTX2 induces HFM, the second-most common facial anomaly after cleft lip and palate Continue reading

Gene behind highly prevalent facial anomaly found

Gene behind highly prevalent facial anomaly found

Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a genetic cause of a facial disorder known as hemifacial microsomia (HFM). The researchers find that duplication of the gene OTX2 induces HFM, the second-most common facial anomaly after cleft lip and palate. HFM affects approximately one in 3,500 births. Continue reading

Study validates air sampling techniques to fight bioterrorism

Study validates air sampling techniques to fight bioterrorism

Air and surface sampling techniques currently used by the US government are effective in fighting bioterrorism and potentially saving lives, a Saint Louis University researcher finds. Results published in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism by Alexander Garza, M.D., MPH, former chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security and a team of researchers from Los Alamos National Lab reviewed the data from a series of experiments simulating a bioterrorism attack against the Pentagon. Continue reading