Biology

A hitherto unseen matrix involved in cell division is revealed

Cell division has been fascinating researchers for decades. This process could not occur without the spindle to organise the chromosomes neatly in two sets, one for each daughter cell. It’s commonly accepted that the spindle is formed by a series of filaments that puts chromosomes into place, but there may be more to it than that. This is certainly the […]

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Biology

Advances in CNS drug development

The global prevalence of diseases affecting the central nervous system (CNS) demands the development of efficacious therapies for these unmet needs. However, drug development for CNS diseases is complicated by a limited ability to measure whether a drug candidate is accessing and affecting the human brain, particularly in early-stage human trials. Research by Dr Eugenii (Ilan) Rabiner and his colleagues: Dr […]

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Biology

Are wildfires following bark beetles more severe?

Bark beetles are responsible for large numbers of dead trees in ponderosa pine forests in the United States. The relationship between tree mortality caused by bark beetles and increasingly severe wildfires has been analysed by Carolyn Sieg and colleagues using a detailed physics-based fire behaviour model. The team seeks to understand if fires that follow beetles are more severe, that […]

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Biology

Predicting protein function and annotating complex pathways with machine learning

Dr Daisuke Kihara’s team at Purdue University have created novel computational approaches for predicting protein functions. Instead of following a one-protein-one-function approach, their algorithms can predict the functional relationships of entire groups of proteins related to a specific biological process. The team has also expanded into mining oversighted or previously unknown proteins that have multiple, independent functions. The team’s methods […]

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Biology

Secrets of the stalk: Regulating plant temperature from the inside out

Have you ever questioned the reasoning behind hollow stems in some plants? When we think about it there are a surprising number of plants with this feature. A common misconception would be to believe it is solely for nutrient or water transport. In fact, the reality has much more to do with temperature regulation. Dr Peter Kevan from the University of Guelph […]

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Biology

Fruit flies help shed light on drug discovery for ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating and incurable neurodegenerative disease that affects people in adulthood. It leads to the death of neurons involved in muscle control, eventually affecting almost all facets of the body, including walking, swallowing and breathing. Drs Nancy Bonini and Leeanne McGurk at the University of Pennsylvania are using fruit flies, mammalian cellular systems like neurons, […]

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Biology

Honeycomb wings created by nature’s mechanics

Forces shape the world we live in, including the bodies we grow in to. Tiny motors in our cells push and pull to create different shapes, surrounding cells respond and react to create diverse patterns of tissue resulting in a world full of unique plants and animals. Drs Sugimura and Ikawa, from Kyoto University, studied the Drosophila fly wing to […]

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Biology

In-situ monitoring of microbial circuitry

Microbial metabolisms are valuable tools in industrial biotechnology. The ability to monitor and measure the productivity of microbes is essential, but many standard techniques are limited by issues of labour- and time-intensity. With funding from the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, Office of Science, and Environmental Management Program as well as the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction agency. Dr Charles (Chuck) […]

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Biology

The acidic brine lakes of Chile: A surprising microbial community

  The Andean salt flats of Chile are well known for their vast natural beauty. Interspersed within their white salt-crusts, small lakes, springs and creeks can be found alongside the unique microbial communities that inhabit them. Drs Cecilia Demergasso and Guillermo Chong along with a multidisciplinary research team from the Universidad Católica del Norte of Chile, are currently investigating the […]

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Biology

Machine metaphors: Ethical and philosophical challenges in synthetic biology

The emerging field of synthetic biology faces a growing need for conceptual clarification and ethical deliberation. Dr Joachim Boldt from the University of Freiburg has analysed the use of machine metaphors in describing biological systems, and how language affects the approaches we have towards synthetic biology research. In addition to oversimplifying biological systems, machine metaphors can create new biosafety risks and […]

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