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Longevity's secret code revealed

By | July 1, 2010

Extreme longevity is associated with a select group of genetic markers, according to a new study of centenarians, people living at least 100 years. Using these markers, researchers can predict a person's ability to become a centenarian with 77 percent accuracy. Researchers say they can predict yourlikelihood of becoming a centenarianwith 77 percent accuracyImage: Flickr, user linkurl:Dark_Ghetto28;http://www.flickr.com/photos/dark_ghetto28/407953159/ "Exceptional longevity is not this vacuous

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New master switch in brain?

By | July 1, 2010

In an unexpected twist, a new study casts a classical protein in a surprising new role: Pax6, a well-recognized factor in brain and eye development in mice, appears to play a very different and crucial part in the development of the human brain. Mature neurons (red) and glial cells (green) derived from hESCs Image courtesy of Su-Chun Zhang The research, reported this week in linkurl:Cell Stem Cell,;http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/ provides "exciting new insights into the fundamental process

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Seeing ear to eye

By | July 1, 2010

Humans' sense of smell is far less powerful than sight, yet new findings suggest olfaction has a surprisingly significant influence on vision. Image: Flickr/linkurl:tuexperto_com3;http://www.flickr.com/photos/21626156@N02/2509246163/ The findings, published online today (July 1) in Current Biology, show that what you smell can alter your visual perception. Previous studies have linked vision with the senses of hearing and touch, "but it's kind of more surprising that olfaction -- smells -- cou

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Earlier start to multicellular life?

By | June 30, 2010

Newly uncovered fossils hint that multicellular life may have evolved more than 2 billion years ago -- some 200 million years earlier than previously expected, according to a study published this week in Nature. Reconstruction of a specimen from Gabonshowing the peripheral radial fabricand inner structural organizationImage: A. El AlbaniThe fossils are "not really [what] you expect to find in the rock record 2 billion years before present," said paleontologist linkurl:Philip Donoghue;http://ww

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Gene + virus + injury = disease?

By | June 24, 2010

One of the most detailed studies to date of how the interaction between genes and environment results in disease has demonstrated that an inflammatory bowel disease resembling human Crohn's needs a specific mutation, virus, and injury to develop in mice.Cross section of colon tissue from apatient with Crohn's diseaseImage:Nephron via Wikimedia Commons "Environmental genomic issues are tough to crack," said linkurl:John Mordes,;http://www.umassmed.edu/igp/faculty/mordes.cfm professor of endocrin

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New editor for Medical Hypotheses

By | June 24, 2010

Biomedical scientist Mehar Manku will take over as editor-in-chief at Elsevier's embattled, previously non-peer-reviewed journal Medical Hypotheses, the publisher announced today (June 24). Image: flicker/linkurl:meviola;http://www.flickr.com/photos/69659670@N00/ In his new role, Manku, a member of the editorial board since 2004, vows to maintain the journal's unusual aim of distributing novel, radical ideas in medicine and related biomedical sciences while employing a more traditional peer re

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New lab-grown lungs

By | June 24, 2010

Two new lab-grown versions of lungs may one day serve as a way to sidestep both animal testing and organ transplantation. Image: Wikimedia commons, Patrick J. LynchOne engineered rat lung, described in Science Express today (June 24), even successfully helped rats breathe for brief periods. "This is the first ever published paper that really demonstrates that regenerative medicine can provide an alternative to clinical transplantation of the lungs," said translational medical researcher Paolo

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Plastic antibodies?

By | June 24, 2010

Antibodies are the main ingredient in a wide range of biopharmaceuticals, but making them is no picnic. Now, chemists have good evidence there may be an easier way: plastic. Currently, in order to manufacture antibodies, mice (or other live animals) are injected with a foreign antigen over several weeks, stimulating B cells in the bloodstream to produce antibodies. Those B cells must then be harvested from the mouse's spleen and transferred to a bioreactor where they are often fused with anothe

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Gulf scientists "on the sidelines"

By | June 23, 2010

Federally organized research teams mobilizing to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are failing to adequately include local ecologists in their efforts, according to some Gulf Coast academic researchers. Image: National Oceanographic andAtmospheric Administration"A chorus is developing here," said linkurl:William Hawkins,;http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/cv/hawkins.william/cv.hawkins.william.php director of the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), of the g

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Lose fin proteins, gain limb?

By | June 23, 2010

The vertebrate transition from fin to limb is one of the juiciest mysteries in evolutionary biology, and this week, scientists may have identified another clue to the puzzle. Published online today (June 23) at linkurl:Nature,;http://www.nature.com/nature/index.html a team of researchers describe two previously unknown proteins essential to fin development in bony fishes -- the loss of which may have been a key step in the evolution of fins to limbs during tetrapod development. "It's a very exc

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