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Versatile Nanosponges Now Aimed at MRSA Toxins

April 3, 2014 | by Skip Derra | Comments

In successful research, any one path can quickly lead to new paths of even more promising results. This branching out of a research project couldn’t be more true than for a team of researchers at the UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering. UCSD researchers have developed “nanosponges” that were initially designed as a platform for cancer drug delivery and now are being developed to soak up the dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA.

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Scientist Said He May Have Made STAP Cells—Just As Riken Called Fraud

April 2, 2014 1:23 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

Riken Institute brass want co-authors of the “acid bath” stem cell papers to retract one, after appeal, citing deliberate misconduct. But two developments may complicate this. First, lead author Haruko Obokata refuses to accept it. And Kenneth Lee has become the first scientist outside the co-authors to publicly claim that, following the latest protocol for acid bath cells, he may have made them.

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Cancer Stem Cell Camps

March 4, 2014 4:51 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

At least two camps have formed in the “breast cancer stem cell” world. One camp believes most cancers may come from stem cells—or stem-like progenitors—gone awry. Others agree cancers can be most virulent when reaching a stem cell-like state—but believe they may come from both stem cells and mature cells gone awry.

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Multi-Parametric Electrophysiological Imaging of the Mammalian Heart in vivo

February 24, 2014 2:41 pm | by James Joubert, application scientist, Photometrics | Photometrics | Comments

Cardiac arrhythmia is one of the most common diseases encountered in clinical cardiology. High-speed electrophysiological imaging using fluorescent probes has yielded tremendous insights into the basic mechanisms of arrhythmias and the effects of anti-arrhythmic drugs. However, optical mapping, as it is known to the cardiac research community, has remained relegated to the isolated (i.e. explanted) heart.

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Estrogen Affects Blood Stem Cells, Explaining Pregnancy

February 20, 2014 2:19 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

Researchers have another answer to the question of how females can generate so much blood—enough for two blood systems—during pregnancy. The answer is stem cells, as is so often the case lately when a question has something to do with underlying biological mechanisms.

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Binge Drinking Impairs Bone Healing

February 19, 2014 1:54 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

Binge drinking impairs the healing of broken bones. It can do this weeks after a binge. And it can leave in its wake permanently inferior bone, according to recent studies. One reason: alcohol slows down mesenchymal (bone, fat, and cartilage) stem cells (MSCs), in the bloodstream, trying to home to fracture sites. And when MSCs finally reach fracture sites, alcohol keeps them from properly replacing lost cells.

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The New Stem Cells

February 10, 2014 1:59 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

Labs globally are electrified by the notion that just “stressing out” ordinary adult cells may turn them into pluripotent stem cells like the “induced pluripotent stem cells” (iPSCs) of Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka. But is this about co-opting an evolutionarily conserved, natural way of making young cells out of old? Or is it an unnatural way of hastening old cells’ death?

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Getting Old Neural Stem Cells to Make Young Neurons Again

February 6, 2014 1:30 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

When the neural stem cells in our brains get older, they create far fewer neurons.  This plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. It also plays a role in our increasingly deficient ability to simply find those car keys. New research is changing that paradigm.

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Nuts Were All Our Big Brains Needed Millions of Years Ago

January 22, 2014 9:35 am | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

Nuts are in the news: a recent study has offered evidence for a big reason our bodies are so nuts for nuts. They are apparently almost all our big brains needed to survive— thus almost all we ate— from 1.4 to 2.4 million years ago.    

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Genetic Technique Dramatically Improves Pregnancy Rates of Older Women

January 21, 2014 9:36 am | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

A large global team of reproduction experts has found a way to even the score for older women seeking pregnancy using a process called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).                      

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Coronary Artery Imaging May Be “Tremendously Significant”

January 16, 2014 1:51 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

A major mystery in heart disease—why most people who develop serious heart disease have normal blood pressure and cholesterol—may have been solved in a “tremendously significant” study. Some are already calling the study “important” and “frame-shifting.” The study—Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis—found that coronary artery calcium scans can often more accurately predict heart disease than cholesterol and blood pressure readings.

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Training T Cells to Fight Their Own Cancers

January 15, 2014 1:48 pm | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

Immunotherapy—the art and science of training peoples’ immune systems to fight their own cancers—was named Breakthrough of the Year by Science. Prominently mentioned was an approach seeing clinical success: genetically tweaking patients’ own T cells to make them more potent, proliferative, and targeted.

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The Massachusetts “Obamacare” Model Works

January 9, 2014 11:21 am | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

The partial model for Obamacare—Massachusetts’ near-universal health care program, adopted in 2006—resulted in measurably improved health. According to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Michigan—with help from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—the health of Massachusetts residents rose more in the first five years of the program than did the health of residents in other New England states.

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“Rapid Evolution” Method Found in Eyeless Fish

January 8, 2014 11:09 am | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

The controversial idea that vertebrate evolution can happen rapidly, in the merest handful of generations, has been given a boost. Harvard University evolutionary geneticist Nicolas Rohner and colleagues recently reported finding the mechanism by which some cavefish are born eyeless after the species moves from surface waters to dark caves.

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Nanoparticles, Laser Light Help Fight Breast Cancer

December 19, 2013 9:50 am | by Skip Derra | Comments

The insidious beauty of cancer is that it disguises itself as normal cells fooling the immune system until it can grow into proportions that are unmanageable or untreatable. Researchers have thought if they could help the immune system identify and fight cancer cells they could improve the patient’s prognosis.

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23andMe Plays Nice

December 17, 2013 10:23 am | by Cynthia Fox | Comments

23andMe, the consumer genetics company halted by the FDA for ignoring repeated questions, is being conciliatory. The company offered raw gene data, and interpretative reports, to the general public on more than 240 diseases and traits until Dec. 5, when it announced it would cease taking new customers as a result of FDA action. However: “the company is now writing conciliatory letters to regulators,” says an insider.

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