Biophysics: Stretching proteins with magnetic tweezers

As the central mediators of cell function in biological organisms, proteins are involved in the execution of virtually all cellular processes. They provide the internal scaffolding that gives cells their form, and enable cells to dynamically alter their morphology. They transport substrates back and forth across membranes, and they catalyze…

New type of visual filter discovered in an unlikely place

A University of Minnesota-led research team recently discovered a new way animals can modify their vision. Crystal-like structures in the photoreceptors of larval mantis shrimp simultaneously reflect and transmit light onto light sensitive cells. This newly described structure resembles how a human-made optical device, known as Fiber Bragg Grating, works….

Promising approach to reducing plaque in arteries

In a new Yale-led study, investigators have revealed previously unknown factors that contribute to the hardening of arteries and plaque growth, which cause heart disease. Their insight is the basis for a promising therapeutic approach to halt and potentially reverse plaque buildup and the progression of disease, the researchers said….

From Japanese basket weaving art to nanotechnology with ion beams: Ultradense arrays of magnetic quanta in high-temperature superconductors

The properties of high-temperature superconductors can be tailored by the introduction of artificial defects. An international research team around physicist Wolfgang Lang at the University of Vienna has succeeded in producing the world’s densest complex nano arrays for anchoring flux quanta, the fluxons. This was achieved by irradiating the superconductor…

Finnish people’s unique genetic makeup offers clues to disease: Study of Finns, with their similar DNA, gives new hints to cardiovascular, metabolic disease risk

A new study harnessed the unique genetic history of the people of Finland to identify variations in DNA that might predispose certain individuals to disease, whether or not they are Finnish themselves. The study was conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in collaboration with…

Human artificial chromosomes bypass centromere roadblocks

Human artificial chromosomes (HACs) could be useful tools for both understanding how mammalian chromosomes function and creating synthetic biological systems, but for the last 20 years, they have been limited by an inefficient artificial centromere. In the journal Cell on July 25th, researchers announce that they have made progress on…

Mutation discovery leads to precise treatment for child with severe lymphatic disorder: A repurposed drug reshapes anatomy, brings dramatic clinical improvement

Faced with a preteen boy in pain and struggling to breathe from a severe, deteriorating rare condition, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia identified the responsible gene mutation and harnessed that knowledge to develop a novel treatment that dramatically improved the problem. The patient had been born with a complex…

How egg cells choose their best powerhouses to pass on

Developing egg cells conduct tests to select the healthiest of their energy-making machines to be passed to the next generation. A new study in fruit flies, published online May 15 in Nature, shows how the testing is done. The work focuses on mitochondria, the cellular machines that turn the sugars,…