Genetics & Molecular Biology

There are examples of positive political campaigns - Ronald Reagan appealed to what America could be, for example - but even that message of hope had an undercurrent of fear, namely that if things did not change, America would stay morassed in 1970s stagflation.

Fear is still used in political campaigns to steer public opinion, but a political scientist claims not everyone is equally predisposed to be influenced by that strategy. Who is most genetically predisposed to be swayed by fear?  Well, it is a humanities study done by someone with no science training, so take a guess.  Answer farther done if you can't connect the cultural dots.

Mothers get all the blame these days but a new paper led suggests that the father's diet before conception may play an equally important role in the health of their offspring. It also raises concerns about the long-term effects of current Western diets and of food insecurity.

A method to model the way proteins fold, and sometimes misfold, has revealed branching behavior that may have implications for Alzheimer's and other aggregation diseases. 

In an earlier study of the muscle protein titin, Rice chemist Peter Wolynes and colleagues analyzed the likelihood of misfolding in proteins, in which domains – discrete sections of a protein with independent folding characteristics – become entangled with like sequences on nearby chains. They found the resulting molecular complexes called "dimers" were often unable to perform their functions and could become part of amyloid fibers.

The "new genetics" promises to fix the faulty genes of future generations by introducing new, functioning genes using "designer sperm", according to a report appearing in The FASEB Journal.

In a mouse model, introducing new genetic material via a viral vector into the sperm of mice leads to the presence and activity of those genes in the resulting embryos. This new genetic material is actually inherited, present and functioning through three generations of the mice tested. This discovery—if successful in humans—could lead to a new frontier in genetic medicine in which diseases and disorders are effectively cured, and new human attributes, such as organ regeneration, may be possible.

Epigenetics has been used for rather comical effect in some cases, with a whole lot of things being correlated to the diets of parents and even grandparents.

There is good news; your epigenetic heritage is not a prison. Rats whose mothers were fed a high-fat diet during pregnancy and nursing were able to stave off some of the detrimental health effects of obesity by exercising during their adolescence. Get the kids out and play and it doesn't matter how fat their moms are.

An international collaboration has discovered a novel receptor, which allows the immune system of modern humans to recognize dangerous invaders, and subsequently elicits an immune response. The blueprint for this advantageous structure was also identified in the genome of Neanderthals, hinting at its origin.

The receptor provided these early humans with immunity against local diseases. The presence of this receptor in Europeans but its absence in early men suggests that it was inherited from Neanderthals.

Researchers from the University of Granada have grown artificial skin from the adult stem cells of an umbilical cord. The paper inl Stem Cells Translational Medicine shows the ability of Wharton jelly mesenschymal stem cells to turn to oral-mucosa or skin-regeneration epithelia.

To grow the artificial skin the researchers also used a biomaterial made of fibrin and agarose, designed and developed by the University of Granada research team. The work has been carried out in the laboratories of the Faculty of Medicine, alongside the Experimental Unit of the Granada "Virgen de las Nieves" University Hospital Complex.

Ever since the term 'junk DNA' was coined (1) - like the 'God particle' it quickly spun out of control due to colloquial misunderstanding of what it meant scientifically - and even more so when the human genome was decoded and it was discovered that only about 3 percent of the entire genome contains information that encodes for proteins, the question has been, 'what is happening in all that other stuff?'

A discovery has allowed researchers to attribute two types of tumor almost entirely to specific mutations that lie in two related genes. These mutations are found in nearly 100 percent of patients suffering from two rare bone tumors; chondroblastoma and giant cell tumor of the bone.

Obesity, along with diabetes and associated consequences like cardiovascular, neurological and renal diseases, is increasing worldwide. Along with focusing on smarting eating, research is on to understand the biological mechanisms.

In obesity, fatty acids, derived mostly from adipose tissue, alter lipid metabolism in other tissues such as liver and skeletal muscles. Both impaired fatty acid metabolism and glucose are hallmarks of diabetes.

In a recent study in the journal Biochemistry, a research group applied fluorescent methods to measure the rate by which fatty acids bind to and move across the fatty acid membrane to become metabolized.