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Benefits of mutation

By | April 2, 2001

Natural pathogenic bacteria populations can harbour mutator alleles (with high mutation rates) that may offer a selection advantage. In the March 30 Science, Giraud et al. describe a model to investigate the role of mutator alleles in influencing adaptation to complex environments in vivo (Science 2001, 291:2606-2608). They examined the colonization of the mouse gut by Escherichia coli strains with a high mutation rate due to a defective MutS protein. By examining bacteria in fecal samples they

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Healing with stem cells

By | April 2, 2001

Progressive heart failure and death can occur following myocardial infarction due to ventricular remodelling and fibrosis. Neoangiogenesis occurs normally within the infarcted tissue, but the new capillary network is unable to support the greater demands of the hypertrophied myocardium and remaining myocytes are unable to reconstitute the necrotic tissue.In the April Nature Medicine, Kocher and colleagues Columbia University, New York show that bone marrow from adult humans can be used to help n

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Mouse model of a human neurological disorder

By | April 2, 2001

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is an inherited neurological disorder that affects 1 in 3,500 people worldwide. It is caused by mutations in the NF1 gene, which encodes neurofibromin, a protein involved in the Ras signalling pathway. Patients have tumours of neural origin and many have learning difficulties.Previous attempts to knock out the NF1 gene have been unsuccessful because the mutant mice die as embryos. Now, a team of researchers led by Luis Parada of the University of Texas Southwestern

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Multi-drug resistant TB should be treated as a public health emergency

By | April 2, 2001

Experts gathered at a conference in London last week called for urgent action to tackle the global problem of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

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but protection possible in four days

By | March 30, 2001

As the UK government considers a limited foot-and-mouth disease vaccination programme, there's evidence that the current vaccines aren't perfect but high doses could help stop transmission.

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Dying without mitochondrial gene expression

By | March 30, 2001

Dysfunction of the mitochondrial respiratory chain is involved in diabetes, heart failure, neurodegeneration and aging. In the March 27 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Wang et al. described experiments to determine the effect of loss of the mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam) gene on cell death (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001, 98:4038-4043). Tissue-specific knockout of the murine Tfam gene, which regulates transcription of mitochondrial DNA, caused mitoc

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Plants put up the 'occupied' sign

By | March 30, 2001

Tobacco plants emit chemical signals in response to caterpillar attack. Ovipositing moths exploit these signals to reduce competition for their offspring.

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Clonality of hemangioma cells

By | March 29, 2001

Hemangioma, a common tumour of infancy, is a benign vascular neoplasm of unknown aetiology. Most are small lesions, but about 10% can expand rapidly and can be life threatening. The nature of the primary defect responsible for the abnormal endothelial proliferation is unknown. In the 15 March Journal of Clinical Investigation, Eileen Boye and colleagues from Harvard Medical School show that hemangiomas are caused by clonal expansion of vascular endothelial cells.Boye et al isolated abnormal endo

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Coloured language

By | March 29, 2001

Some people perceive colours when they see letters or numbers. A study sheds light on this unusual phenomenon.

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Dendritic cells sample gut bacteria

By | March 29, 2001

Bacteria expressing invasion genes can penetrate the intestinal epithelial barrier only through cells located in Peyer's patches. But after oral administration Salmonella typhimurium bacteria deficient in invasion genes are still able to reach the spleen by an as yet unknown invasion route. In April Nature Immunology, researchers from the University of Milano-Bicocca report a mechanism that may be exploited by bacteria to spread throughout the body.Maria Rescigno and colleagues infected murine i

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