ETH scientists have been able to prove that a protein structure widespread in nature – the amyloid – is theoretically capable of multiplying itself. This makes it a potential predecessor to molecules that are regarded as the building blocks of life. Long regarded as a biological aberration, amyloids are fibrous aggregates of short protein fragments.

Carbon monoxide can improve the effectiveness of antibiotics, making bacteria more sensitive to antibiotic medication, according to a study led by Georgia State University. Researchers paired carbon monoxide with the antibiotic metronidazole and found carbon monoxide enhanced the efficacy of the antibiotic against H. pylori, a type of bacteria that infects the stomach and causes peptic ulcers. The findings

A new cellular messenger discovered by Weill Cornell Medicine scientists may help reveal how cancer cells co-opt the body’s intercellular delivery service to spread to new locations in the body. In a paper published Feb. 19 in Nature Cell Biology, the scientists show that a cutting-edge technique called asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) can efficiently sort

Modern humans have brains that are more than three times larger than our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. Scientists don’t agree on when and how this dramatic increase took place, but new analysis of 94 hominin fossils shows that average brain size increased gradually and consistently over the past three million years. The research,

Using a state-of-the-art type of electron microscopy, an MIT-led team has discovered the structure of an enzyme that is crucial for maintaining an adequate supply of DNA building blocks in human cells. Their new structure also reveals the likely mechanism for how cells regulate the enzyme, known as ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). Significantly, the mechanism appears

Researchers from KU Leuven (Belgium) and the universities of Pittsburgh, Stanford, and Penn State (US) have identified fifteen genes that determine our facial features. The findings were published in Nature Genetics. Our DNA determines what we look like, including our facial features. That appeals to the popular imagination, as the potential applications are obvious. Doctors could

Multicellular organisms like ourselves depend on a constant flow of information between cells, coordinating their activities in order to proliferate and differentiate. Deciphering the language of intercellular communication has long been a central challenge in biology. Now, Caltech scientists have discovered that cells have evolved a way to transmit more messages through a single pathway,

A tool that has already revolutionized disease research may soon get even better, thanks to an accidental discovery in the bacteria that cause many of the worst cases of meningitis. Called CRISPR-Cas9, the tool acts as molecular scissors—able to cut DNA at exactly the spot it’s asked to. But it can’t cut the other kind

A powerful genome editing tool can be deployed as an ace DNA detective, able to sniff out DNA snippets that signal viral infections, cancer, or even defective genes. This genetic detective, developed in the laboratory of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley, uses the genome-slicing system known as CRISPR.

Perhaps you missed the news that the price of hummus has spiked in Great Britain. The cause, as the New York Times reported on February 8: drought in India, resulting in a poor harvest of chickpeas. Far beyond making dips for pita bread, chickpeas are a legume of life-and-death importance–especially in India, Pakistan, and Ethiopia

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