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A new study published this week in PLoS Biology suggests that seasonal changes in absolute humidity are the apparent underlying cause of wintertime influenza outbreaks. The study also found that the onset of outbreaks might be encouraged by anomalously dry weather conditions, at least in temperate regions.
New research from Tel Aviv University and MIT suggests that magnesium, a key nutrient for the functioning of memory, may be even more critical than previously thought. The multi-center experiment focused on a new magnesium supplement, magnesium-L-theronate (MgT), and found that the synthetic compound enhances memory or prevents its impairment in young and aging animals. The research was carried out over a five-year period and may have significant implications for the use of over-the-counter magnesium supplements.
Patients diagnosed with clinical depression may respond better to medical treatment as a result of belief in a personal God, say researchers at Rush University Medical Center writing in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

136 adults diagnosed with major depression or bipolar depression at inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care facilities in Chicago participated in the study. The patients were surveyed shortly after admission for treatment and eight weeks later, using the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, and the Religious Well-Being Scale – all standard instruments in the social sciences for assessing intensity, severity and depth of disease and feelings of hopelessness and spiritual satisfaction.
Researchers have found a new oncogenic signaling pathway by which arsenic exposure may lead to adverse health effects, including bladder cancer. The results appear in Cancer Research.

While the correlation between arsenic exposure and cancer tumors such as those derived from bladder, lung and skin is well established, the molecular mechanisms driving this connection has remained unclear.
UCL (University College London) scientists studying face recognition in identical twins say the essential skill is largely determined by our genetics. Published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that identical twins were twice as similar to each other in terms of their ability to recognize faces, compared to non-identical twins.

Researchers also found that the genetic effects that allow people to recognize faces are linked to a highly specific mechanism in the brain, unrelated to other brain processes such as the ability to recognize words or abstract art.
Writing in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, Harvard University researchers say they have demonstrated that simple changes in beak length and depth can explain the important morphological diversity of all beak shapes within the famous genus Geospiza. Broadly, the work suggests that a few, simple mathematical rules may be responsible for complicated biological adaptations.

Using digitization techniques, researchers found that 14 distinct beak shapes, that at first glance look unrelated, could be categorized into three broader, group shapes. Despite the striking variety of sizes and shapes, mathematically, the beaks within a particular group only differ by their scales.