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Subtle change in DNA, protein levels determines blond or brunette tresses, study finds

Subtle change in DNA, protein levels determines blond or brunette tresses, study finds

A molecule critical to stem cell function plays a major role in determining human hair color, according to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study describes for the first time the molecular basis for one of our most noticeable traits. Continue reading

How breast cancer ‘expresses itself’

How breast cancer ‘expresses itself’

About one in eight women in the United States will contract breast cancer in her lifetime. Now new research from Tel Aviv University-affiliated researchers, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, has provided another tool to help women, clinicians, and scientists searching for a cure to the one of the most widespread yet incurable diseases on the planet. Dr Continue reading

Toxins in the environment might make you older than your years

Toxins in the environment might make you older than your years

Why are some 75-year-olds downright spry while others can barely get around? Part of the explanation, say researchers writing in the Cell Press journal Trends in Molecular Medicine on May 28, is differences from one person to the next in exposure to harmful substances in the environment, chemicals such as benzene, cigarette smoke, and even stress Continue reading

How DNA is ‘edited’ to correct genetic diseases

How DNA is ‘edited’ to correct genetic diseases

An international team of scientists has made a major step forward in our understanding of how enzymes ‘edit’ genes, paving the way for correcting genetic diseases in patients. Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Münster and the Lithuanian Institute of Biotechnology have observed the process by which a class of enzymes called CRISPR — pronounced ‘crisper’ — bind and alter the structure of DNA. The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( PNAS ), provide a vital piece of the puzzle if these genome editing tools are ultimately going to be used to correct genetic diseases in humans. Continue reading

How DNA is ‘edited’ to correct genetic diseases

How DNA is ‘edited’ to correct genetic diseases

An international team of scientists has made a major step forward in our understanding of how enzymes ‘edit’ genes, paving the way for correcting genetic diseases in patients. Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Münster and the Lithuanian Institute of Biotechnology have observed the process by which a class of enzymes called CRISPR — pronounced ‘crisper’ — bind and alter the structure of DNA. Continue reading

Insights into genetics of cleft lip

Insights into genetics of cleft lip

Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, have identified how a specific stretch of DNA controls far-off genes to influence the formation of the face. The study, published today in Nature Genetics, helps understand the genetic causes of cleft lip and cleft palate, which are among the most common congenital malformations in humans. “This genomic region ultimately controls genes which determine how to build a face and genes which produce the basic materials needed to execute this plan,” says François Spitz from EMBL, who led the work Continue reading

Intake of dietary prenatal folate and other methyl donors in first trimester of pregnancy affects asthma risk in children at age 7

Intake of dietary prenatal folate and other methyl donors in first trimester of pregnancy affects asthma risk in children at age 7

Maternal intake of dietary methyl donors during the first trimester of pregnancy modulates the risk of developing childhood asthma at age 7, according to a new study presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference. “Evidence on the effects of dietary methyl donor intake on childhood asthma has been mixed,” said lead author Michelle Trivedi, MD, Clinical Fellow in Pediatric Pulmonology at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston. Continue reading

First ‘heavy mouse’ leads to first lab-grown tissue mapped from atomic life

First ‘heavy mouse’ leads to first lab-grown tissue mapped from atomic life

Scientists have created a ‘heavy’ mouse, the world’s first animal enriched with heavy but non-radioactive isotopes — enabling them to capture in unprecedented detail the molecular structure of natural tissue by reading the magnetism inherent in the isotopes. This data has been used to grow biological tissue in the lab practically identical to native tissue, which can be manipulated and analysed in ways impossible for natural samples. Researchers say the approach has huge potential for scientific and medical breakthroughs: lab-grown tissue could be used to replace heart valves, for example Continue reading

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

Sneaking drugs into cancer cells before triggering release

Sneaking drugs into cancer cells before triggering release

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed an anti-cancer drug delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into a cancer cell before triggering its release. The method can be likened to keeping a cancer-killing bomb and its detonator separate until they are inside a cancer cell, where they then combine to destroy the cell. “This is an efficient, fast-acting way of delivering drugs to cancer cells and triggering cell death,” says Dr. Continue reading