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Tag Archives: biology

Presence of enzyme may worsen effects of spinal cord injury and impair long-term recovery

Presence of enzyme may worsen effects of spinal cord injury and impair long-term recovery

Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition with few treatment options. Studies show that damage to the barrier separating blood from the spinal cord can contribute to the neurologic deficits that arise secondary to the initial trauma. Through a series of sophisticated experiments, researchers reporting in The American Journal of Pathology suggest that matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) plays a pivotal role in disruption of the brain/spinal cord barrier (BSCB), cell death, and functional deficits after SCI. Continue reading

Cellular self-destruct program has deep roots throughout evolution

Cellular self-destruct program has deep roots throughout evolution

In what seems like a counter-intuitive move against survival, within animals, some cells are fated to die from the triggering of an elaborate cell death program, known as apoptosis. Now, Sakamaki et. al., have honed in on understanding the evolution of caspase-8, a key cell death initiator molecule that was first identified in humans Continue reading

Scientists find ‘hidden brain signatures’ of consciousness in vegetative state patients

Scientists find ‘hidden brain signatures’ of consciousness in vegetative state patients

Scientists in Cambridge have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state, which point to networks that could support consciousness even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. Continue reading

New front in war on Alzheimer’s, other protein-linked brain diseases

New front in war on Alzheimer’s, other protein-linked brain diseases

A surprise discovery that overturns decades of thinking about how the body fixes proteins that come unraveled greatly expands opportunities for therapies to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which have been linked to the accumulation of improperly folded proteins in the brain. “This finding provides a whole other outlook on protein-folding diseases; a new way to go after them,” said Andrew Dillin, the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Distinguished Chair of Stem Cell Research in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of California, Berkeley. Dillin, UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellows Nathan A Continue reading

German academies call for consequences from the Ebola virus epidemic

German academies call for consequences from the Ebola virus epidemic

The Ebola virus is spreading rapidly and to an unexpected extent. The outbreak does not follow the patterns experienced in the past and the virus shows a new disease dynamic in regions where it has never been recorded before. For this reason, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, acatech — the German Academy of Science and Engineering, and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities have presented a statement on the Ebola epidemic today Continue reading

Molecular ‘breadcrumb trail’ that helps melanoma spread found

Molecular ‘breadcrumb trail’ that helps melanoma spread found

Cancer Researchers UK scientists have discovered that melanoma cells are drawn to follow the ‘trail’ of a naturally-occurring molecule in the body, which directs this serious type of skin cancer to spread, according to research published in PLOS Biology . The team at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute at the University of Glasgow, revealed that melanoma cells give themselves the ‘green light’ to move using the molecule — a type of fatty chemical called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). This signal prompts them to travel and spread in the body. Continue reading

Discovery of cellular snooze button advances cancer, biofuel research

Discovery of cellular snooze button advances cancer, biofuel research

The discovery of a cellular snooze button has allowed a team of Michigan State University scientists to potentially improve biofuel production and offer insight on the early stages of cancer. Continue reading

Scientists create new protein-based material with some nerve

Scientists create new protein-based material with some nerve

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a “smart” material that is extremely sensitive to its environment. This marriage of materials science and biology could give birth to a flexible, sensitive coating that is easy and cheap to manufacture in large quantities. The work, to be published Oct. Continue reading

Greater rates of mitochondrial mutations discovered in children born to older mothers

Greater rates of mitochondrial mutations discovered in children born to older mothers

The discovery of a “maternal age effect” by a team of Penn State scientists that could be used to predict the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations in maternal egg cells — and the transmission of these mutations to children — could provide valuable insights for genetic counseling. These mutations cause more than 200 diseases and contribute to others such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease Continue reading

Mineralization of sand particles boosts microbial water filtration

Mineralization of sand particles boosts microbial water filtration

Mineral coatings on sand particles actually encourage microbial activity in the rapid sand filters that are used to treat groundwater for drinking, according to a paper published ahead of print in Applied and Environmental Microbiology . These findings resoundingly refute, for the first time, the conventional wisdom that the mineral deposits interfere with microbial colonization of the sand particles. “We find an overwhelmingly positive effect of mineral deposits on microbial activity and density,” says corresponding author Barth F. Continue reading