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Tag Archives: biology

Scientists call for investigation of mysterious cloud-like collections in cells

Scientists call for investigation of mysterious cloud-like collections in cells

About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don’t know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a cell, and therefore could offer a new approach to disease treatment. In the Journal of Cell Biology , two researchers are issuing a call to investigators from various backgrounds, from biophysics to cell biology, to focus their attention on the role of these formations — for which they coin a new unifying term “assemblages.” “I want to know what these assemblages are doing in Ewing sarcoma, the disease I concentrate on — and I would think all other researchers who study human biology would want to know their functions in both health and disease,” says Jeffrey Toretsky, MD, professor in the department of oncology and pediatrics at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Continue reading

Sniffing-out smell of disease in feces: ‘Electronic nose’ for rapid detection of clostridum difficile infection

Sniffing-out smell of disease in feces: ‘Electronic nose’ for rapid detection of clostridum difficile infection

A fast-sensitive “electronic-nose” for sniffing the highly infectious bacteria C-diff, that causes diarrhea, temperature and stomach cramps, has been developed by a team at the University of Leicester. Using a mass spectrometer, the research team has demonstrated that it is possible to identify the unique ‘smell’ of C-diff which would lead to rapid diagnosis of the condition. What is more, the Leicester team say it could be possible to identify different strains of the disease simply from their smell — a chemical fingerprint — helping medics to target the particular condition. Continue reading

Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations

Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations

Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations, previously believed that only the brain could perform. This is according to a study from Umeå University in Sweden published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. A fundamental characteristic of neurons that extend into the skin and record touch, so-called first-order neurons in the tactile system, is that they branch in the skin so that each neuron reports touch from many highly-sensitive zones on the skin Continue reading

Surprising discovery: HIV hides in gut, evading eradication

Surprising discovery: HIV hides in gut, evading eradication

Researchers at UC Davis have made some surprising discoveries about the body’s initial responses to HIV infection. Studying simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the team found that specialized cells in the intestine called Paneth cells are early responders to viral invasion and are the source of gut inflammation by producing a cytokine called interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β). Continue reading

Leading Ebola researcher says there’s an effective treatment for Ebola

Leading Ebola researcher says there’s an effective treatment for Ebola

A leading U.S. Ebola researcher from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has gone on record stating that a blend of three monoclonal antibodies can completely protect monkeys against a lethal dose of Ebola virus up to 5 days after infection, at a time when the disease is severe. Thomas Geisbert, professor of microbiology and immunology, has written an editorial for Nature discussing advances in Ebola treatment research. Continue reading

Synthesis produces new fungus-derived antibiotic

Synthesis produces new fungus-derived antibiotic

A fortuitous collaboration at Rice University has led to the total synthesis of a recently discovered natural antibiotic. The laboratory recreation of a fungus-derived antibiotic, viridicatumtoxin B, may someday help bolster the fight against bacteria that evolve resistance to treatments in hospitals and clinics around the world. Continue reading

Encyclopedia of how genomes function gets much bigger

Encyclopedia of how genomes function gets much bigger

A big step in understanding the mysteries of the human genome was unveiled today in the form of three analyses that provide the most detailed comparison yet of how the genomes of the fruit fly, roundworm, and human function. The research, appearing August 28 in in the journal Nature, compares how the information encoded in the three species’ genomes is “read out,” and how their DNA and proteins are organized into chromosomes. The results add billions of entries to a publicly available archive of functional genomic data Continue reading

Sorting cells with sound waves

Sorting cells with sound waves

Researchers from MIT, Pennsylvania State University, and Carnegie Mellon University have devised a new way to separate cells by exposing them to sound waves as they flow through a tiny channel. Their device, about the size of a dime, could be used to detect the extremely rare tumor cells that circulate in cancer patients’ blood, helping doctors predict whether a tumor is going to spread. Separating cells with sound offers a gentler alternative to existing cell-sorting technologies, which require tagging the cells with chemicals or exposing them to stronger mechanical forces that may damage them Continue reading

Expanding age of eligibility for measles vaccination could increase childhood survival in Africa

Expanding age of eligibility for measles vaccination could increase childhood survival in Africa

Expanding the age of eligibility for measles vaccination from 12 to 15 months could have potentially large effects on coverage in Africa, according to a new report published by Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Continue reading

Cancer-fighting drugs might also stop malaria early

Cancer-fighting drugs might also stop malaria early

Scientists searching for new drugs to fight malaria have identified a number of compounds — some of which are currently in clinical trials to treat cancer — that could add to the anti-malarial arsenal. Duke University assistant professor Emily Derbyshire and colleagues identified more than 30 enzyme-blocking molecules, called protein kinase inhibitors, that curb malaria before symptoms start Continue reading