Science News Feature

Using reprogrammed skin cells, researchers have for the first time used stem cell techniques to grow fully functional assemblies of the cells that line airways leading to the lungs. The lab-grown airway tissue can now be used to study the molecular basis for lung diseases—from rare genetic disorders to common afflictions like asthma and emphysema—and test new drugs to treat the diseases.

 

When humans are suffering from an infection, it is common to become fatigued and to want to sleep more than usual. Two studies on fruit flies published online ahead of print in the journal Sleep suggest that this instinct should be followed. The studies from researchers in the University of Pennsylvania show that sleep is important in increasing resistance to infection and promoting survival.

 

Myelin is an electrical insulating material which facilitates rapid transmission of neuronal signals along axons of nerve cells. Up until now, it has been assumed that myelin is uniformly distributed along the axonal length. However, a study in the current issue of Science from researchers in Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Neuroscience Institute of Turin shows this to be false assumption. In fact,...

Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists exploring large fields of impact glass in Argentina suggest that what happened on Earth might well have happened on Mars millions of years ago. Martian impact glass could hold traces of organic compounds.

For a long time, researchers thought that the star-shaped astrocytes (the name comes from the Greek word for star) were simply support cells for the neurons. It turns out that these cells have a number of important jobs, including providing nutrients and signaling molecules to neurons, regulating blood flow, and removing brain chemicals called neurotransmitters from the synapse. The synapse is the point of information transfer between...