Genetics & Molecular Biology

White fat and brown fat have been well documented regarding metabolism but new research has introduced data that may be important this winter and this new year: each type of fat may change into the other, depending on the temperature.

In particular, cold temperatures may encourage "unhealthy" white fat to change into "healthy" brown fat.


Humans who eat a lot of red meat are known to be at higher risk for certain cancers but other carnivores are not, which is a bit of an epidemiological puzzle, mostly because cancer rates in animals are not well-known.

In a recent study,  University of California, San Diego School of Medicine scientists wanted to  investigate the possible tumor-forming role of a sugar called Neu5Gc, which is naturally found in most mammals but not in humans, and found that feeding Neu5Gc to mice engineered to be deficient in the sugar (like humans) significantly promoted spontaneous cancers.

The study did not involve exposure to carcinogens or artificially inducing cancers, further implicating Neu5Gc as a key link between red meat consumption and cancer. 


It's commonly said that moderate alcohol consumption is good for people, but no one knew why and the determination of moderate was arbitrary.

A new study of 618 Swedes with coronary heart disease and a control group of 3,000 healthy subjects lent evidence to epidemiological curve-matching. The subjects were assigned to various categories based on the amount of alcohol they consumed and were tested in order to identify a particular genotype (CETP TaqIB) that previous studies suggested played a role in the health benefits of alcohol consumption.

The results showed that moderate consumption of alcohol helps protect people  against coronary heart disease
- if they have the genotype.


Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease and most patients with RRMS who received disease-modifying therapies experience breakthrough disease. Autologous (using a patient's own cells) hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) has been studied in multiple sclerosis with the goal of removing disease-causing immune cells and resetting the immune system.


It is common in some fields to infer that differences in one area will ultimately reflect differences in the end product. Though the real abuse and misuse is with neuroscience and tools like fMRI imaging, they are not alone. 

Geneticists have also commonly suggested that RNA differences will mean differences in proteins but  the majority of RNA expression differences between individuals have no connection to the abundance of a corresponding protein, finds a new study.

Instead, there is likely a yet-unidentified cellular mechanism that regulates gene expression and RNA measurements to characterize gene function won't stand alone.


Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and are summoned to fight infections or injury in any tissue or organ in the body, regardless of cellular and biochemical composition.

How do neutrophils, the body's all terrain vehicles, move in these confined spaces? 

A team from Brown University's School of Engineering and the Department of Surgery in the Warren Alpert Medical School collaborated find out. Their technique involved two hydrogel sacks sandwiched together with a minuscule space in between. Neutrophils could be placed in that space, mimicking the confinement they experience within tissue. Time-lapse cameras measure how fast the cells move, and traction force microscopes determine the forces the cells exert on the surrounding gel.


Previous studies of hair loss have identified signals from the skin that help prompt new phases of hair growth and a new study reveals a new way to spur hair growth. 


Enzymes are crucial for assisting virtually all biological processes, but there has been little consensus on how they work. Molecular processes crucial to life are made possible by these but beyond that less is known. 

Chemists looking inside a working enzyme have found that local electric fields focused at the active site might play a big role in helping it accelerate reactions. The electrostatic field within an enzyme accounts for the lion's share of its success, they conclude.

There is a running joke in America that there are three times as many people in the U.S. claiming to be Irish as there are actual people in Ireland. 

Though it's nice to claim to be Irish because of a last name, America is a melting pot. And it is so melted that the genetic ancestry of racial and ethnic groups varies significantly even across different geographic regions in the United States. A paper in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 160,000 African-Americans, Latin-Americans and European-Americans, providing insights into the subtle differences in genetic ancestry across the United States. 


A new paper has found that inhibiting or blocking stem cells ability to make a specific decision, leads to better cell growth and could lead to defined ways to differentiate stem cells.

Th authors say their research is the first comprehensive analysis of a pathway important for stem and cancer cell decisions known as Erk. As a result, they hope the work could contain clues to cancer treatment as well as helping to establish a platform to make stem cell treatments for gut related disorders like the pancreas or the liver.