Genetics & Molecular Biology

Preventing inflammation in obese fat tissue may hold the key to preventing or even reversing type 2 diabetes, new research has found.

Researchers from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the RIKEN Institute, Japan found they could 'reverse' type 2 diabetes in laboratory models by dampening the inflammatory response in fat tissue.

Dr Ajith Vasanthakumar, Dr Axel Kallies and colleagues from the institute discovered that specialised immune cells, called regulatory T cells (Tregs), played a key role in controlling inflammation in fat tissue and maintaining insulin sensitivity.


Nina Fedoroff, molecular biologist and former Science and Technology Adviser to Condoleezza Rice and then Hillary Clinton, says that genetic modification (GM) is the most critical technology in agriculture for meeting the challenges of feeding a growing global population. Fedoroff warns of the detrimental influence of politics and misinformation on the safety of GM crops and in contrast to anti-science marketing campaigns by groups like Greenpeace and NRDC that, "GM crops are arguably the safest new crops ever introduced into the human and animal food chains."


Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, suggesting that these tiny filaments may lash together the sperm and its target.

The finding, 14 years in the making, has earned the cover of the scientific journal Andrology. It represents a significant step forward in the fine dissection of the protein architecture of the sperm's acrosomal matrix, an organelle in the sperm head, and suggests a new hypothesis concerning what happens during fertilization.


Parents go to great lengths to ensure the health and well-being of their developing offspring. The favor, however, may not always be returned.

Dramatic research has shown that during pregnancy, cells of the fetus often migrate through the placenta, taking up residence in many areas of the mother's body, where their influence may benefit or undermine maternal health.

The presence of fetal cells in maternal tissue is known as fetal microchimerism. The term alludes to the chimeras of ancient Greek myth--composite creatures built from different animal parts, like the goat-lion-serpent depicted in an Etruscan bronze sculpture.


Vitamin D is being blamed for or is linked to curing everything in 2015, and so it is little surprise a paper uses a genetic study to bolster observational evidence that lower vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk of multiple sclerosis.


The dominant antibody type present in the blood of transplant recipients may indicate their likelihood of experiencing organ rejection, according to a study which may help doctors identify patients who need aggressive treatments to safeguard the health of their new organ.

Transplant recipients who receive a kidney, heart, or lung often develop an immune response to the foreign tissue in the form of antibodies referred as donor-specific HLA antibodies. Some patients may already have these antibodies before their transplant because they have been exposed to blood products or previous transplants. Although the presence of donor-specific HLA antibodies in a recipient is usually not a good sign, not all patients who have them experience a poor outcome.


    How could you destroy someone with their own words, if their words present no evidence of wrongdoing?  It actually is amazingly simple, and illustrates the danger of limitless access to personal emails through public records requests.  In this post I will show how two writers for a PLoS One Blog* blatantly misrepresent content obtained through such a request. This is how scandals are manufactured from nothing.

By Joel Shurkin, Inside Science — Wine grapes specially bred for extreme temperatures may have a future, despite any laughs connoisseurs might have at the thought of wine labels extolling the virtues of the terroir of Deadwood or Fargo.

A grape-breeding project that already has pumped more than $400 million into northern states’ economies and created as many as 13,000 jobs is trying to grow wine grapes where summers are short and winters brutal. Scientists who are breeding the grapes say the wine is improving every year.

From Austrian monks to American craft brewers, beer geeks are everywhere. But making a good beer not only depends on the best ingredients, but also the best yeast.

The beer world is divided into ales and lagers. The original and highly versatile yeast, Saccharromyces cerevisiae, has been used for millennium to make ales, wine and bread. But the second great beer innovation was the origins of lager beer during the 15th century, when Bavarians first noticed that beer stored in the caves during the winter continued to ferment (from the German lagern: to store). The result was a lighter and smoother beer that, after sharing it with their neighboring Bohemians, went on to dominate 19th and 20th century beers tastes, especially in America.


Researchers have identified a new vitamin B3 pathway that regulates liver metabolism. The discovery provides an opportunity to pursue the development of novel drug therapies to address obesity, type 2 diabetes and related metabolic diseases. 

The new findings show that a small molecule called N1-methylnicotinamide prevents metabolic complications caused by a high-fat diet.