Genetics & Molecular Biology

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) technology has been around since the late 1990s and became a political football in the early 2000s when President George W. Bush made federal funding for it available for the first time, but limited it to existing lines, which made the NIH happy but was quickly pounced on by his opponents as a "ban."

Approximately five percent of people suffers an epileptic attack, during which the nerve cells get out of their usual rhythm and fire in a very rapid frequency, over the course of their lives. This results in seizures and such synchronous discharges in the brain occur most frequently in the temporal lobe.

Often, a seizure disorder develops after a delay following transient brain damage - for example due to injury or inflammation. So-called ion channels are involved in the transfer of signals in the brain; these channels act like a doorman to regulate the entry of calcium ions in the nerve cells.

Researchers have discovered how a protein from malaria could some day help stop cancer.

While exploring why pregnant women are particularly susceptible to malaria, they found that the mosquito-borne parasite that causes malaria also produces a protein that binds to a particular type of sugar molecule in the placenta. 

The identification of a protein that selectively clears damaged chloroplasts from plant cells reveals how plants maintain a "clean workshop" during the process of photosynthesis. Chloroplasts play an important role in transforming light into useable energy for plants, but when these energy powerhouses are damaged, they release harmful substances. When the plant detects this damage, signals are sent to genes involved in chloroplast function and stress adaptation.

A single blood test could reveal whether an otherwise healthy person is unusually likely to die of pneumonia or sepsis within the next 14 years.

Based on an analysis of 10,000 individuals, researchers have identified a molecular byproduct of inflammation, called GlycA, which seems to predict premature death due to infections.

The findings, published October 22 in Cell Systems, suggest that high GlycA levels in the blood indicate a state of chronic inflammation that may arise from low-level chronic infection or an overactive immune response. That inflammation damages the body, which likely renders individuals more susceptible to severe infections.

Delivering the hormone leptin directly to the brain through gene therapy can aid weight loss without the significant side effect of bone loss, according to new research.

Rapid or significant weight loss through dieting can trigger bone loss. Loss of bone density, in turn, can lead to increased susceptibility to bone fractures in older adults, which can have a debilitating effect on quality of life.

The bone loss is most concerning in people whose weight fluctuates due to "yo-yo" dieting, or repeated cycles of weight gain and loss, because bone lost during weight loss is not typically regained when the person gains weight again, said Urszula Iwaniec, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.

When a Lake Malawi cichlid loses a tooth, a new one drops neatly into place as a replacement. Why can't humans similarly regrow teeth lost to injury or disease?

Working with hundreds of these colorful fish, researchers are beginning to understanding how the animals maintain their hundreds of teeth throughout their adult lives. By studying how structures in embryonic fish differentiate into either teeth or taste buds, the researchers hope to one day be able to turn on the tooth regeneration mechanism in humans - which, like other mammals, get only two sets of teeth to last a lifetime.

Antioxidants are often added to fresh and processed meat and meat products to prevent lipid oxidation (decomposition), stop the development of off-flavors, and improve color stability. Recently food manufacturers have moved towards using natural antioxidants such as plant extracts, herbs, spices and essential oils, instead of synthetic ones in order to meet consumer demand for more natural products. 

In a new review article in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), authors from authors from Punjab Agricultural University in India looked at numerous studies to identify 27 natural ingredients that can be used as antioxidants in meat and meat products.

In the kidney, injured cells can be kicked into reparative mode by a gene called Sox9, according to a new paper.  Sox9 also plays a key role in the normal development of the kidney and the authors found that surviving injured cells switch on the Sox9 gene as a response to kidney damage.

This regenerates the injured cellular lining of the nephron, the functional unit of the kidney, and repairs the kidney after acute kidney injury (AKI).  

By recruiting the majority of the surviving cells of the epithelium to aid in the timely repair of a severely injured organ, the kidney's Sox9 strategy contrasts with the stem cell-based repair strategy of many other organ systems.

If you'd like to lose a few pounds, poke around the Internet and read about food and farming.

Within ten minutes you will likely find that all of your favorite fare is poised to kill you, contributing to dozens of maladies from allergies, to autism, to Morgellons's disease, to impotence, to cancer. Is it true? Probably not. Why would people put such things on the web?