Genetics & Molecular Biology

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?

Calcium is a crucial element in the body that controls thought, movement and other bodily functions. These events are directed by specialized proteins called ion channels that allow the flow of calcium ions in and out of cells and among cell compartments. For years, scientists have been unsure how calcium ion channels function.

New atomic scale images of the structure of calcium's gatekeeper, IP3R, could go a long way toward solving this mystery and lead to treatments for the many diseases tied to channel malfunctions.

The IP3R channel was imaged by scientists in the Department of Biochemisty and Molecular Biology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Their findings appear in the journal Nature.


Scientists have calculated more precise measurements of heritability--the influence of underlying genes--in nine autoimmune diseases that begin in childhood. The research may strengthen researchers' abilities to better predict a child's risk for associated autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn's disease and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, collectively affect one in 12 persons in the Western Hemisphere. They represent a significant cause of chronic disability.


Researchers have developed a new strategy for helping African farmers fight a parasitic plant that devastates crops - plants in the genus Striga, also known as witchweed.

Though their purple flowers are pretty to look at, a field full of Striga plants is in fact a nightmare for a farmer who wants to grow corn, sorghum, rice or other subsistence crops. The problem affects more than 100 million people across 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

 University of Toronto  chemical engineering professor Alexei Savchenko, along with professor Peter McCourt in the Department of Cell and Systems Biology, have created a genetically engineered plant biosensor, a tool that will help them hunt for molecules that could prevent Striga infestations.


A deadline passed on Oct. 3 for countries in the EU to opt out of future "GMO Crop" planting approvals.

Working with gut stem cells from humans and mice, scientists from have successfully grown healthy intestine atop a 3-D scaffold made of a substance used in surgical sutures. 

In a further step that takes their work well beyond proof of concept, researchers report their laboratory-created intestine successfully regenerated gut tissue in the colons of dogs with missing gut lining.