Mail-based bioterror attacks made headlines last week when traces of ricin, a poison derived from the castor bean and a common by-product of castor oil, was found in letters addressed to President Barack Obama, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County, Miss., Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, according to reports from the Associated Press.
Scientists have identified patterns of epigenetic changes involved in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by studying genetically identical twins who differ in autism traits. The study is the largest of its kind and may shed light on the biological mechanism by which environmental influences regulate the activity of certain genes and in turn contribute to the development of ASD and related behavior traits.
Pluripotent stem cells can turn, or differentiate, into any cell type in the body, such as nerve, muscle or bone, but inevitably some of these stem cells fail to differentiate and end up mixed in with their newly differentiated daughter cells.
In a serendipitous discovery, scientists have found a way to turn bone marrow stem cells directly into brain cells. Current techniques for turning patients’ marrow cells into cells of some other desired type are relatively cumbersome, risky and effectively confined to the lab dish.
An international team of neuroscientists has described for the first time in exhaustive detail the underlying neurobiology of an amnesiac who suffered from profound memory loss after damage to key portions of his brain. In a new paper, researchers recount the case of EP, a man who suffered radical memory loss and dysfunction following a bout of viral encephalitis.
Scientists have identified 14 new genes which could have important consequences for future treatments of childhood arthritis. Researchers looked at DNA extracted from blood and saliva samples of 2,000 children with childhood arthritis and compared these to healthy people.
Researchers have developed a therapy for pancreatic cancer that uses Listeria bacteria to selectively infect tumor cells and deliver radioisotopes into them. The experimental treatment dramatically decreased the number of metastases (cancers that have spread to other parts of the body) in a mouse model of highly aggressive pancreatic cancer without harming healthy tissue.
Researchers studying aquatic organisms called Daphnia have found that exposure to a chemical pesticide has impacts that span multiple generations– causing the so-called “water fleas” to produce more male offspring, and causing reproductive problems in female offspring.
A massive study analyzing gene expression data from 22 tumor types has identified multiple metabolic expression changes associated with cancer. The analysis also identified hundreds of potential drug targets that could cut off a tumor’s fuel supply or interfere with its ability to synthesize essential building blocks.
For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember. A new study shows that human stem cells can successfully implant themselves in the brain and then heal neurological deficits.
U.K. authorities say a 25-year-old man is suspected to have died from measles as an epidemic continues to sweep across south Wales. The outbreak has led to more than 800 infections and renewed discussions over the failure of some parents to vaccinate their children against the potentially fatal virus.
In 1999, researchers injected 19 people with a virus carrying a gene designed to correct a rare metabolic disease. Early results appeared promising: Among the first 17 adult subjects, the worst symptom was a fever, an expected response to the modified virus that carried the therapeutic gene. The 18th subject was Jesse Gelsinger, who died.
Scientists have revealed how a bacterial enzyme has evolved an energy-efficient method to move long distances along DNA. The findings present further insight into the coupling of chemical and mechanical energy by a class of enzymes called helicases, a widely-distributed group of proteins, which in human cells are implicated in some cancers.
Wielding a joystick and wearing special glasses, pain researcher Alexandre DaSilva rotates and slices apart a large, colorful, 3-D brain floating in space before him. Despite the white lab coat, it appears DaSilva's playing the world's most advanced virtual video game.
There's no evidence a new bird flu strain is spreading easily among people in China even though there may be sporadic cases of the virus spreading to people who have close contacts with patients, the World Health Organization said Friday. Fifteen global and Chinese health experts are on a mission in Beijing and Shanghai to learn more about the H7N9 bird flu virus that has killed 17 people and sickened 70 others.
Scientists have long pondered the roots of aggression—and ways to temper it. Now, new research is beginning to illuminate the cellular-level circuitry responsible for modulating aggression in fruit flies, with the hope of someday translating the findings to humans.
Health officials are seeing more food poisonings caused by a bacteria commonly linked to raw milk and poultry. A study released Thursday said campylobacter cases grew by 14 percent over the last five years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report was based on foodborne infections in only 10 states- about 15 percent of the American population.
New research has thrown light on the way breakdowns in the DNA copying process inside cells can contribute to cancer and other diseases. A team of researchers discovered that the protein machines that copy DNA in a model organism pause frequently during this copying process, creating the potential for dangerous mutations to develop.
Neuroscientists have taken a major step in their efforts to help people with memory loss tied to brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using sea snail nerve cells, the scientists reversed memory loss by determining when the cells were primed for learning.
Researchers are abuzz after using fruit flies to find new ways of taking advantage of caffeine’s lethal effects on cancer cells—results that could one day be used to advance cancer therapies for people. Previous research has established that caffeine interferes with processes in cancer cells that control DNA repair, a finding that has generated interest in using the stimulant as a chemotherapy treatment.
Scientists have decoded the DNA of a celebrated “living fossil” fish, gaining new insights into how today's mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds evolved from a fish ancestor. The African coelacanth is closely related to the fish lineage that started to move toward a major evolutionary transformation, living on land.
While studying rats’ ability to navigate familiar territory, scientists found that one particular brain structure uses remembered spatial information to imagine routes the rats then follow. Their discovery has implications for understanding why damage to that structure, called the hippocampus, disrupts specific types of memory and learning in people with Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
Overworked and stressed out? Look on the bright side: Some stress is good for you. New research has uncovered exactly how acute stress– short-lived, not chronic– primes the brain for improved performance. In studies on rats, researchers found that significant, but brief stressful events caused stem cells in their brains to proliferate into new nerve cells.
Researchers have identified a molecule that prevents repair of some cancer cells, providing a potential new "genetic chemotherapy" approach to cancer treatment that could significantly reduce side effects and the development of treatment resistance compared with traditional chemotherapy.
The bones that support our bodies are made of remarkably complex arrangements of materials— so much so that decoding the precise structure responsible for their great strength and resilience has eluded scientists’ best efforts for decades. But now, a team of researchers has finally unraveled the structure of bone with almost atom-by-atom precision.