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Many human proteins are not as good as they might be because the gene sequences that code for them have a double role which slows down the rate at which they evolve, according to new research published in PLoS Biology.

By tweaking these dual role regions, scientists could develop gene therapy techniques that produce proteins that are even better than those found in nature, and could one day be used to help people recover from genetic disorders.

The stretch of DNA which codes for a specific protein is often interrupted by sections of apparently useless DNA – known as introns – which need to be edited out in order to produce a new protein.


Before a transcribed gene is translated into t

During development and during pathological processes in the adult, cells are constantly changing their function. One, well-characterized, cellular transition that occurs during development, as well as during wound healing, tissue fibrosis, and tumor metastasis, is the transition from an epithelial cell to a mesenchymal cell (often a fibroblast).

This change in cell type and function is known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and it has been shown that a protein known as FSP1 is important for this transition.

Debate over euthanasia continues in many countries. Opinions were divided for months in Italy over the case of Piergiorgio Welby, who died Dec. 20 when he was administered a sedative and his artificial respiration was turned off.

More recently, in Australia, cancer sufferer John Elliot traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, to put an end to his life with the aid of the organization Dignitas. As often happens with these cases, pro-euthanasia activists exploited the emotional appeal of a suffering and terminally ill patient to push for a so-called right to die.

Elliot was accompanied in his journey by Australian euthanasia advocate, Philip Nitschke, as well as a reporter from the Melbourne-based Age newspaper, the periodical reported Jan. 27.

Carnegie Mellon University's Philip LeDuc predicts the use of artificially created cells could be a potential new therapeutic approach for treating diseases in an ever-changing world. LeDuc, an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, penned an article for the January edition of Nature Nanotechnology Journal about the efficacy of using man-made cells to treat diseases without injecting drugs.

This idea was developed by a team of researchers from disciplines including biology, chemistry and engineering during an exciting conference organized by the National Academies and the Keck Foundation for developing new disease-fighting approaches for the future.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a sensitive new method for rapidly assessing the quality of carbon nanotubes. Initial feasibility tests show that the method not only is faster than the standard analytic technique but also effectively screens much smaller samples for purity and consistency and better detects sample variability.


A new NIST method for rapidly assessing the quality of carbon nanotubes was evaluated in part by comparing the results to electron micrographs, which revealed uneven composition such as large bundles of nanotubes and impurities such as metallic particles. (Color added.) (Credit: NIST)