First-ever blueprint of a minimal cell is more complex than expected

What are the bare essentials of life, the indispensable ingredients required to produce a cell that can survive on its own? Can we describe the molecular anatomy of a cell, and understand how an entire organism functions as a system?  In three papers published back-to-back today in Science, they provide the first comprehensive picture of a minimal cell, based on an extensive quantitative study of the biology of the bacterium that causes atypical pneumonia, Mycoplasma pneumoniae. The study uncovers fascinating novelties relevant to bacterial biology and shows that even the simplest of cells is more complex than expected.

 

This image represents the integration of genomic, metabolic, proteomic, structural and cellular information about Mycoplasma pnemoniae in this project: one layer of an Electron Tomography scan of a bottle-shaped M. pneumoniae cell (grey) is overlaid with a schematic representation of this bacterium's metabolism, comprising 189 enzymatic reactions, where blue indicates interactions between proteins encoded in genes from the same functional unit. Apart from these expected interactions, the scientists found that, surprisingly, many proteins are multifunctional. For instance, there were various unexpected physical interactions (yellow lines) between proteins and the subunits that form the ribosome, which is depicted as an Electron microscopy image (yellow).Credit: Takuji Yamada /EMBL

Continue reading “First-ever blueprint of a minimal cell is more complex than expected”

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Arming the Immune System against H1N1

Viruses multiply incredibly quickly once they've infected their victim–so fast that antiviral medications such as Tamiflu are only effective if given during the first few days of an infection. After that, the viral load is just too high for a single drug to fight off. But researchers are working on a treatment for the H1N1 virus (or swine flu) that uses a different approach. Rather than disabling the virus with a drug, they're creating a vaccine that can activate and steer a patient's own immune cells to attack the invader

via Technology Review: Arming the Immune System against H1N1.

Rat Made Supersmart — Similar Boost Unsafe in Humans?

By modifying a single gene, scientists have made Hobbie-J the smartest rat in the world, a new study says.

A similar gene tweak might boost human brainpower too, but scientists warn that there is such a thing as being too smart for your own good

For years scientifically smartened rats have skittered through movies and books such as Flowers for Algernon and The Secret of NIMH. But Hobbie-J is anything but fiction.

The lab rat can remember objects three times longer than her smartest kin, the study says. Thanks largely to this memory boost, she's also much better at solving complex tasks, such as traveling through mazes using only partial clues to find rewards—a key method for measuring rat intelligence.

 

 

 

 

via Rat Made Supersmart — Similar Boost Unsafe in Humans?.

Tiny chip could diagnose disease

Researchers have demonstrated a tiny chip based on silicon that could be used to diagnose dozens of diseases.

A tiny drop of blood is drawn through the chip, where disease markers are caught and show up under light.

The device uses the tendency of a fluid to travel through small channels under its own force, instead of using pumps.

The design is simpler, requires less blood be taken, and works more quickly than existing “lab on a chip” designs, the team report in Lab on a Chip.

 

 

 

 

via BBC News : Tiny chip could diagnose disease.

Researchers Try to Solve the Mystery of HIV Carriers Who Don’t Contract AIDS

More than half a million people in the U.S. have died from HIV infection, and more than a million currently live with the virus, but a relative handful of people infected with HIV never get treatment for it and never get sick from it. The immune systems of this small population—perhaps 50,000 Americans—somehow control the virus for long periods of time. Of course, there is typically a bell curve of response to any disease, but figuring out how these people control the virus is one of the most vexing mysteries of the AIDS pandemic. Solving it might unlock new ways to prevent and treat HIV infection, and now several research teams are going after the answer.

 

 

 

 

via Researchers Try to Solve the Mystery of HIV Carriers Who Don’t Contract AIDS: Scientific American.

Potential Treatment for Down Syndrome

Drugs that boost the chemical messenger norepinephrine in the brain have been shown to alleviate cognitive problems in mice engineered to mirror Down syndrome. The findings, published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggest a new approach to treating the disorder. Several existing drugs can boost the chemical or mimic its effects, though none have yet been tested in patients with Down syndrome.

via Technology Review: Potential Treatment for Down Syndrome.

Positive Attitude Staves Off Heart Disease

Next time you're stuck in traffic, try deep breathing exercises instead of honking your horn. It could save your life.

Researchers found that people who have a positive attitude during stressful events are 22% less likely to have a fatal or nonfatal heart attack than those who have negative attitudes.

via Positive Attitude Staves Off Heart Disease.