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iPSCs less pliable than ESCs?

By | July 19, 2010

Stem cells derived from adult tissues may be less able to differentiate into different tissues than those derived from embryos, because adult cells appear to retain an "epigenetic memory" of the cell type from which they were derived, according to two mouse studies published this week in Nature journals. An iPSC colonyImage: Jose M. Polo andKonrad HochedlingerThe papers show that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) "are not truly similar to [embryonic stem cells] when examined at a high reso


Video: Transcription, live

By | July 18, 2010

For the first time, scientists have devised a way to watch and analyze, in real time, the transcription of a single gene in a living human cell. Published online today (July 18) in Nature Methods, researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel describe their system to visualize and track the kinetics of transcription, including the speed and fluctuations of transcription of a single gene. Yaron Shav-Tal and colleagues at Bar-Ilan used their technique, which involves tagging the mRNA product from


Brain 'stars' help breathing

By | July 15, 2010

Cells originally believed to be no more than support for neurons have been getting a second-look lately, and a recent study suggests they may be critical to a fundamental bodily function: breathing. The finding, published online today (July 15) by linkurl:Science,; further expands scientists' vague understanding how astrocytes -- glial cells in the brain named for their star-shape -- function in the brain, and offers a new way to investigate disorders associated with r

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Medical Hypotheses's replacement?

By | July 14, 2010

A linkurl:former member; of the editorial board at linkurl:Medical Hypotheses; has started a similar publication called linkurl:Hypotheses in the Life Sciences,; following Elsevier's decision to institute a more traditional peer review process at the once editorially reviewed journal. Image: flicker/linkurl:meviola;

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Longevity debate: Chips to blame?

By | July 14, 2010

At the heart of a feverish debate over the validity of a linkurl:recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of centenarians; is the authors' possible misuse of gene chips in different testing groups, part of an ongoing issue affecting other GWAS research. How this variation might impact the validity of the longevity findings, however, including the 150 SNPs associated with extreme longevity, is unclear. SNP chips are at the center of the longev


Q&A: How to study scientists

By | July 14, 2010

Scientists spend their time trying to uncover the most effective and efficient techniques and their impact on research, but what about the most effective and efficient scientists, and how they impact the field? linkurl:Pierre Azoulay; of MIT's Sloan School of Management talked with The Scientist about his work on what influences the productivity of scientific researchers, and how productive scientists can, in turn, influence the scientific community. Image: Wiki


Arctic genes kill bacteria

By | July 13, 2010

Genes from cold-loving bacteria may one day be used to create live bacterial vaccines for common pathogens such as __Salmonella__ and the tuberculosis bacterium, according to a linkurl:study; published yesterday (July 12) in the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__.Image:flickr/DrShapero By swapping genes that are essential for survival in pathogenic bacteria with those of their counterparts in cold-adapted bacteria


Top 7 cell biology papers

By | July 13, 2010

#1 Gene for autoimmunity Rare genetic variants in the protein sialic acid acetylesterase (SASE) are linked to common human autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, arthritis, and Crohn's disease. In mice, defects in the protein have been linked to problems in B-cell signaling and the development of auto-antibodies. I. Surolia, et al., "Functionally defective germline variants of sialic acid acetylesterase in autoimmunity," Nature, 466:243-7. Epub 2010 Jun 16. linkurl:Eval;http://f1000b


We Are (not) Scientists

By | July 9, 2010

Don't bother trying to figure out if the members of the rock band We Are Scientists are actually scientists. Don't even try to figure out what their name comes from -- they give a different explanation in practically every interview, sometimes claiming it came from a random string of letters that appeared during a game of Boggle. In fact, it's best not to take anything they say too seriously. Bassist Chris Cain holding our January, 2010 issueWith that, I set out to get my own tongue-in-cheek in


Better housing fights cancer in mice

By | July 8, 2010

Enriching animals' environments does much more than improve their psyches -- it may fight deadly disease, according to a study published online today (July 8) in Cell. Example of enriched environmentImage: Adam MartinLiving in larger spaces with access to more toys and companions helped shrink, or even eliminate, tumors in cancerous mice. "The findings are very interesting and also very provocative," said physiologist linkurl:John Hall;


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