Τρίτη, 27 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

How DNA is 'edited' to correct genetic diseases

Posted: 26 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

A major step forward in our understanding of how enzymes 'edit' genes has been made by an international team of researchers, paving the way for correcting genetic diseases in patients. Researchers have observed the process by which a class of enzymes called CRISPR -- pronounced 'crisper' -- bind and alter the structure of DNA. The results provide a vital piece of the puzzle if these genome editing tools are ultimately going to be used to correct genetic diseases in humans.

From chaos to order: How ants optimize food search

Posted: 26 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

Ants are capable of complex problem-solving strategies that could be widely applied as optimization techniques. An individual ant searching for food walks in random ways. Yet the collective foraging behavior of ants goes well beyond that, a mathematical study reveals: The animal movements at a certain point change from chaos to order. This happens in a self-organized way. Understanding the ants could help analyze similar phenomena -- for instance how humans roam the Internet.

Relaxation helps pack DNA into a virus

Posted: 26 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

DNA packs more easily into the tight confines of a virus when given a chance to relax. DNA is a long, unwieldy molecule that tends to repel itself because it is negatively charged, yet it can spool tightly. Within the heads of viruses, DNA can be packed to near crystalline densities, crammed in by a molecular motor.

Ebola vaccine success highlights dilemma of testing on captive chimps to save wild apes

Posted: 26 May 2014 03:26 PM PDT

A new study illustrates "high conservation potential" of vaccines for endangered wild primates devastated by viral disease, but highlights need for access to captive chimpanzees so vaccines can be trialled before being administered in the wild.

How biodiversity arises: Single gene mutation during development can lead to differences in jaw shape, feeding strategies

Posted: 26 May 2014 03:26 PM PDT

A new study of how biodiversity arises shows how a mutation in a single gene in development can lead to different consequences not only in jaw shape, but how this leads to different feeding strategies. It is among the first to show how one genetic change influences trait development and function.

Packaged batches of stem cells for regenerative medicine

Posted: 26 May 2014 07:17 AM PDT

The Spanish start-up Aglaris Cell is close to launching onto the market the world's first bioreactor that cultures cell in a fully automated way, without using toxic additives. Researchers created a start-up company a little over two years ago with the aim of developing a device that would automate stem cell cultures thereby making advances in the production of 'live' medicines.

Insights into genetics of cleft lip

Posted: 26 May 2014 07:17 AM PDT

A specific stretch of DNA controls far-off genes to influence the formation of the face, researchers have found. The new study, outlining how this is done, helps understand the genetic causes of cleft lip and cleft palate, which are among the most common congenital malformations in humans.

Cost-effective filtration system to efficiently combat indoor air pollution

Posted: 26 May 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Researchers have invented a cost-effective filtration system to efficiently combat indoor air pollution. The new system is more effective than standard air purifier, is capable of removing particles almost 10 times smaller than the PM2.5 standard, and helps to remove the smell associated with haze.

Fighting cancer with dietary changes

Posted: 26 May 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Calorie restriction during treatment for breast cancer changes cellular programming in a way that lowers the chance of metastases in mice. Breast cancer patients are often treated with hormonal therapy to block tumor growth, and steroids to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy. However, both treatments can cause a patient to have altered metabolism which can lead to weight gain. In fact, women gain an average of 10 pounds in their first year of treatment. Recent studies have shown that too much weight makes standard treatments for breast cancer less effective, and those who gain weight during treatment have worse cancer outcomes.

Outdoor lighting using wind-solar hybrid renewable energy sources

Posted: 25 May 2014 05:47 PM PDT

As an outcome from the continuous hybrid renewable energy research, an innovative outdoor lighting system powered by a shroud-augmented wind turbine and a solar panel was installed in the Kuala Lumpur campus of University of Malaya (UM).

DNA nanotechnology places enzyme catalysis within an arm's length

Posted: 25 May 2014 12:53 PM PDT

Using molecules of DNA like an architectural scaffold, scientists have developed a 3-D artificial enzyme cascade that mimics an important biochemical pathway that could prove important for future biomedical and energy applications. In the latest breakthrough, the research team took up the challenge of mimicking enzymes outside the friendly confines of the cell. These enzymes speed up chemical reactions, used in our bodies for the digestion of food into sugars and energy during human metabolism, for example.

New molecule for high-resolution cell imaging

Posted: 25 May 2014 12:53 PM PDT

Cells have their own tiny skeletons that are responsible for many important cellular functions. Scientists have developed novel fluorescent probes for imaging these important structures easily and with unprecedented resolution. The scientists believe that they can extend their work into other types of proteins and tissues. "Up to now, no probes were available that would allow you to get high quality images of microtubules and microfilaments in living cells without some kind of genetic modification," one researcher notes. "With this work, we provide the biological community with two high-performing, high-contrast fluorogenic probes that emit in the non-phototoxic part of the light spectrum, and can be even used in tissues like whole-blood samples."

Remapping the epic evolution of a 'ring species' through central Asia

Posted: 25 May 2014 12:47 PM PDT

The Greenish Warbler, long considered an idealized example of a single species that diverged into two as it expanded its range, has a much more checkered family history than biologists previously realized. Ring species are a continuous loop of related populations, each adapted to its local environment, with two terminal populations in the loop meeting but now unable to mate. But an in-depth genomic analysis reveals that the Greenish Warbler's genetic migration through central Asia involved periods of geographic separation and hybridization.

Buried fossil soils found to be awash in carbon

Posted: 25 May 2014 12:47 PM PDT

Soils that formed on Earth's surface thousands of years ago and that are now deeply buried features of vanished landscapes have been found to be rich in carbon, adding a new dimension to our planet's carbon cycle. The finding is significant as it suggests that deep soils can contain long-buried stocks of organic carbon which could, through erosion, agriculture, deforestation, mining and other human activities, contribute to global climate change.

How signals trigger cancer cells to spread

Posted: 25 May 2014 12:47 PM PDT

A signaling pathway in cancer cells that controls their ability to invade nearby tissues in a finely orchestrated manner has been discovered by researchers. The findings offer insights into the early molecular events involved in metastasis, the deadly spread of cancer cells from primary tumor to other parts of the body.

Mice with 'mohawks' help scientists link autism to two biological pathways in brain

Posted: 25 May 2014 12:47 PM PDT

"Aha" moments are rare in medical research, scientists say. As rare, they add, as finding mice with Mohawk-like hairstyles. But both events happened in a lab, months after an international team of neuroscientists bred hundreds of mice with a suspect genetic mutation tied to autism spectrum disorders.

Crowding has big effects on biomolecules

Posted: 22 May 2014 08:57 AM PDT

Crowding has notoriously negative effects at large size scales, blamed for everything from human disease and depression to community resource shortages. But relatively little is known about the influence of crowding at the cellular level. A new study shows that a crowded environment has dramatic effects on individual biomolecules.

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