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Parental biases influence brain

By | July 8, 2010

The body's tendency to silence the expression of one parental allele in favor of the other -- a practice known as genomic imprinting -- is much more widespread than scientists have believed, according to a new genome-wide study in mice, published online this week in linkurl:Science.;http://www.sciencemag.org/ The study found that the number of genes in mouse brains with a bias toward either the maternal or paternal allele is thirteen times higher than previously thought. Kessa LigerroWikimedia

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miRNA stunts drug addiction

By | July 7, 2010

The brain appears to contain molecular elements that can protect it from drug addiction -- specifically, small non-coding RNAs that inhibit the development of addiction in rats exposed to cocaine, according to a study published this week in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commons, AnetodeSpecifically, one particular microRNA (miRNA) "seems to actively decrease the motivation of the animal to take the drug," said behavioral neuroscientist and study author linkurl:Paul Kenny;http://www.scripps.edu/flor

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Top 7 biochemistry papers

By | July 6, 2010

#1 Complex I enzyme revealed The solved structure of a bacterial complex I enzyme -- first in line in the energy-producing respiratory chain -- reveals important mechanics of this ubiquitous protein. Specifically, the structure shows how it hustles electrons and protons across membranes. R.G. Efremov et al. "The architecture of respiratory complex I," Nature, 465(7297):441-5. 2010. linkurl:Eval;http://f1000biology.com/article/id/3375956 by Nathan Nelson, Tel Aviv University; Andrea Mattevi, U

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DNA repair causes damage

By | July 1, 2010

A DNA repair mechanism may come at a cost -- cancer-causing mutations, according to a study published this week in Science. DNA ligase repairs chromosomal damageImage: Wikimedia commons, TomEllenberger WashingtonUniversity School of MedicineA supposedly accurate DNA repair mechanism employed by cells to fix double-strand breaks can surprisingly increase the nearby mutation rate by up to 1400 times, providing a possible explanation for the accumulation of tumor-causing mutations in cancerous tis

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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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