08/21/2014 - 12:00

Algae might seem easy to ignore, but they are the ultimate source of all organic matter that marine animals depend upon. Humans are increasingly dependent on algae, too, to suck up climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sink it to the bottom of the ocean. Now, by using a combination of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, researchers have evidence showing that viruses infecting those algae are driving the life-and-death dynamics of the algae’s blooms, even when all else stays essentially the same, and this has important implications for our climate.

05/06/2014 - 14:58

Rice University scientists have designed a tunable virus that works like a safe deposit box. It takes two keys to open it and release its therapeutic cargo. The Rice lab of bioengineer Junghae Suh has developed an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that unlocks only in the presence of two selected proteases, enzymes that cut up other proteins for disposal. Because certain proteases are elevated at tumor sites, the viruses can be designed to target and destroy the cancer cells.

12/06/2013 - 08:19

Avian influenza virus H7N9, which killed several dozen people in China earlier this year, has not yet acquired the changes needed to infect humans easily, according to a new study by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). In contrast to some initial studies that had suggested that H7N9 poses an imminent risk of a global pandemic, the new research found, based on analyses of virus samples from the Chinese outbreak, that H7N9 is still mainly adapted for infecting birds, not humans.


11/25/2013 - 10:14

The key pathway by which viruses “attack” consists in releasing viral DNA into the infected cell, taking over the host cell’s transcription mechanisms and using them to reproduce itself. In order to fight or exploit to our benefit the action of viruses, scientists are trying to understand this process in detail. A group of researchers–one of whom from SISSA–has studied the timescale of DNA “ejection” (how long it takes and what is the precise sequence of events), and found that it depends on the degree and manner of entanglement of the double strand of DNA inside the virus.

11/18/2013 - 07:56

What began as a summer internship project designed for an undergraduate student evolved into a one-year study of one of the deadliest, but little known viruses. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have now solved the structure of a key protein in the Nipah virus, which could pave the way for the development of a much-needed antiviral drug.


11/13/2013 - 12:13

Lithium-air batteries have become a hot research area in recent years: They hold the promise of drastically increasing power per battery weight, which could lead, for example, to electric cars with a much greater driving range. But bringing that promise to reality has faced a number of challenges, including the need to develop better, more durable materials for the batteries’ electrodes and improving the number of charging-discharging cycles the batteries can withstand.