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Molecular control of sleep

By | November 21, 2001

Levels of cAMP and cAMP response-element binding protein (CREB) control the balance between rest and wakefulness.

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Cholesterol keeps HIV-1 production healthy

By | November 20, 2001

HIV-1 multiplication requires the presence of cholesterol-enriched microdomains, in the plasma membrane of host cells.

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Hemoglobin and malaria

By | November 20, 2001

Hemoglobin C alleles are associated with protection from malaria in West Africa.

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Radiotherapy with targeted nanogenerators

By | November 20, 2001

The use of a safe, efficient, highly specific carrier capable of delivering radioactivity precisely with in a tumor is a long sought after goal in the treatment of cancer. In November 16 Science Michael McDevitt and colleagues from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York describe a new efficient method to target molecular-sized generators of alpha-emitting isotopes to the inside of cancer cells.McDevitt et al. constructed a nanogenerator of alpha-emitting particles from a single atom of

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The piscidin adventure

By | November 20, 2001

Antimicrobial peptides exist in the epithelial tissues and blood cells of many vertebrates, but no antibiotic has been isolated from the mast cells of any animal. In November 15 Nature Umaporn Silphaduang and Edward Noga from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, US identified a family of peptide antibiotics that reside in the mast cells of fish. These 'piscidins' suggests that mast cells may participate in direct killing of microbial invaders.Silphaduang & Noga used tissues derived from

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Bacterial networking

By | November 19, 2001

Conjugation has classically been considered a bacterium-to-bacterium DNA transfer driven by the donor cell and is typically plasmid-encoded. Theoretically it is possible that any type of cell can serve as the recipient. In December Nature Genetics, Virginia Waters from the University of California, San Diego shows the first evidence for bacterial conjugation to mammalian cells.Waters used the RK2 'shuttle vector' plasmid system to determine if Escherichia coli can transfer a fluorescent DNA sign

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Genetic protection from axon injury

By | November 19, 2001

Axons and their synapses distal to the site of an injury undergo rapid degeneration, but axons in the mutant C57BL/WldS mouse are protected by a mechanism that remains unclear. In December Nature Neuroscience Till Mack and colleagues from University of Cologne, Germany, identified the Wld gene and the mutant protein involved in protecting the nerve fibers of these mice from degeneration.Mack et al. found that the protection in C57BL/WldS mice is due to a Ube4b/Nmnat chimeric gene that encodes an

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Resistance to vCJD

By | November 19, 2001

The Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a much-publicized prion disease that is linked to infection with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) prions and is distinct from sporadic or inherited CJD forms. In the November 15 Nature, Graham Jackson and colleagues report that resistance to vCJD is associated with a particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type (Nature 2001, 414:269-270).They compared the HLA types of vCJD sufferers, sporadic CJD patients and unaffected individuals; they typ

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Genetics of social behaviour

By | November 16, 2001

Social behaviour can be pretty complex at the best of times, and defining the underlying genetic events has provided a formidable challenge. In the November 15 Sciencexpress, Michael Krieger and Kenneth Ross, from the University of Georgia, describe the first clear example of a single gene affecting complex social behaviour (ScienceXpress 10.1126/science.1065247).Colony queen number in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta is associated with variations in the Gp-9 gene, such that worker ants with the

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The fluid structure of Golgi

By | November 16, 2001

The intracellular Golgi apparatus was believed to be a fixed structure that processed proteins for secretion in an assembly-line fashion. But two papers in November 12 Journal of Cell Biology, show that the entire Golgi apparatus is a dynamic structure and suggest that most, if not all, Golgi protein elements cycle through endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in interphase cells.Suzanne Miles and colleagues at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, US, compared the effect of protein inhibition and ER exit blocking on

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