The hippocampus plays a crucial role in memory formation. However, it is not yet fully understood in what way that brain structure's individual regions are involved in the formation of memories. Neuroscientists now have recreated this process with the aid of computer simulations.
Another step forward has just been taken in the area of synthetic biology. Researchers have transformed bacteria into 'secret agents' that can give warning of a disease based solely on the presence of characteristic molecules in the urine or blood. To perform this feat, the researchers inserted the equivalent of a computer programme into the DNA of the bacterial cells.
Like a dairy farmer tending to a herd of cows to produce milk, researchers are tending to colonies of the bacteria Escherichia coli to produce new forms of antibiotics - including three that show promise in fighting drug-resistant bacteria.
The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as 'letters', that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting for the first time that two new nucleotides can do the same thing - raising the possibility that entirely new proteins could be created for medical uses.
MicroRNA can serve as a 'decoder ring' for understanding complex biological processes, a team of New York University chemists has found. Their study points to a new method for decrypting the biological functions of enzymes and identifying those that drive diseases.
Lung cancer researchers have discovered a novel strategy to exploit apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, for the treatment of lung cancer. The protein Bcl-2 is a known target for cancer treatment since it allows cancer cells to evade cell death via apoptosis.
Cell therapies require a purification step that isolates the desired cell types from contaminating cells. Normally cell surface receptors are used as markers to distinguish cell types, but undesired cell types also show these receptors, compromising purification. Evidence suggests microRNA may be a better marker. New biotechnology, miRNA switches, purifies different cell types based on miRNA markers at levels suggesting applicability to patient care.
The world's first reference material to help ensure laboratories accurately 'map' DNA for genetic testing, medical diagnoses and future customized drug therapies is now available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).