Health News

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 10:57

Researchers have shown for the first time in an animal that is more closely related to humans that it is possible to make new bone from stem-cell-like induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) made from an individual animal's own skin cells. The study in monkeys reported in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on May 15th also shows that there is some risk that those iPSCs could seed tumors, but that unfortunate outcome appears to be less likely than studies in immune-compromised mice would suggest.

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 09:22

In 2008, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania showed that mutations in two proteins associated with familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) disrupt the flow of calcium ions within neurons. The two proteins interact with a calcium release channel in an intracellular compartment. Mutant forms of these proteins that cause FAD, but not the normal proteins, result in exaggerated calcium signaling in the cell.

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 09:11

Stimulation of a certain population of neurons within the brain can alter the learning process, according to a team of neuroscientists and neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania. A report in the Journal of Neuroscience describes for the first time that human learning can be modified by stimulation of dopamine-containing neurons in a deep brain structure known as the substantia nigra. Researchers suggest that the stimulation may have altered learning by biasing individuals to repeat physical actions that resulted in reward.

 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 09:08

Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a genetic cause of a facial disorder known as hemifacial microsomia (HFM). The researchers find that duplication of the gene OTX2 induces HFM, the second-most common facial anomaly after cleft lip and palate.

 

Friday, May 9, 2014 - 09:44

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.

 

Friday, May 9, 2014 - 09:20

Helicosporidium is a lethal parasite of insects including caterpillars, beetles and blackflies. The evolutionary origins of this parasite have remained shrouded in mystery but recent studies strongly suggested similarity to a green alga called Prototheca. Evolution of parasites from algae is not unheard of. One of the most famous examples is the transition of the malaria parasite Plasmodium from red algae, with loss of genes encoding biological functions that are no longer needed in the organism’s new life as a parasite.