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Latest National Academy of Sciences Stories

2014-04-10 12:19:18

By attaching short sequences of single-stranded DNA to nanoscale building blocks, researchers can design structures that can effectively build themselves. The building blocks that are meant to connect have complementary DNA sequences on their surfaces, ensuring only the correct pieces bind together as they jostle into one another while suspended in a test tube. Now, a University of Pennsylvania team has made a discovery with implications for all such self-assembled structures. Earlier...

2014-04-08 11:51:42

From time to time, living cells will accidentally make an extra copy of a gene during the normal replication process. Throughout the history of life, evolution has molded some of these seemingly superfluous genes into a source of genetic novelty, adaptation and diversity. A new study shows one way that some duplicate genes could have long-ago escaped elimination from the genome, leading to the genetic innovation seen in modern life. Researchers have shown that a process called DNA...

2014-04-08 11:41:02

Researchers have discovered a way of reducing the fertility of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, potentially providing a new tactic to combat the disease. Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are the main transmitters of malaria, which affects around 200 million people every year. The females mate only once during their lives. They store the sperm from this single mating in an organ called the spermatheca, from which they repeatedly take sperm over the course of their lifetime to fertilize the eggs...

2014-04-08 11:36:36

Melbourne researchers have solved a puzzle as to how an essential blood-making hormone stimulates production of the blood clotting cells known as platelets. Platelets are essential for stopping bleeding and are produced by small fragments breaking off their 'parent' cells, called megakaryocytes. The discovery, made by scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, identified how bone marrow cells could become overstimulated and produce too many platelets. In blood diseases such as...

2014-04-08 11:34:49

Genes amplify the stress of harsh environments for some children, and magnify the advantage of supportive environments for other children, according to a study that's one of the first to document how genes interacting with social environments affect biomarkers of stress. "Our findings suggest that an individual's genetic architecture moderates the magnitude of the response to external stimuli—but it is the environment that determines the direction" says Colter Mitchell, lead author of...

2014-04-08 10:48:49

Genetic variants associated with enjoying the effects of d-amphetamine—the active ingredient in Adderall—are also associated with a reduced risk for developing schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), report scientists from the University of Chicago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 7. The results support a long-standing hypothesis that dopamine, the neurotransmitter connected with the euphoric effects of amphetamine, is related to...

2014-04-08 10:43:57

The difference between an immune response that kills cancer cells and one that conversely stimulates tumor growth can be as narrow as a "double-edged sword," report researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in the April 7, 2014 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We have found that the intensity difference between an immune response that stimulates cancer and one that kills it may not be very much," said principal...

2014-04-07 11:14:25

UH Math collaborates with Rice on synthetic gene circuit A long-standing challenge in synthetic biology has been to create gene circuits that behave in predictable and robust ways. Mathematical modeling experts from the University of Houston (UH) collaborated with experimental biologists at Rice University to create a synthetic genetic clock that keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures. The findings were published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of...

2014-04-04 11:00:50

For Simon Gilroy, sometimes seeing is believing. In this case, it was seeing the wave of calcium sweep root-to-shoot in the plants the University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of botany is studying that made him a believer. Gilroy and colleagues, in a March 24, 2014 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed what long had been suspected but long had eluded scientists: that calcium is involved in rapid plant cell communication. It's a finding that has...

2014-04-01 13:13:29

Scientists have for the first time come closer to understanding how a clone of E. coli, described as the most important of its kind to cause human infections, has spread across the world in a very short time. E. coli clone ST131 is one of the leading causes of urinary tract and blood stream infections and has crossed the globe at a rapid rate. Worryingly, members of this clone are becoming more resistant to antibiotics. As an indication of scale, more than half of all women will suffer a...


Word of the Day
toccata
  • In music, a work for a keyboard-instrument, like the pianoforte or organ, originally intended to utilize and display varieties of touch: but the term has been extended so as to include many irregular works, similar to the prelude, the fantasia, and the improvisation.
This word is Italian in origin, coming from the feminine past participle of 'toccare,' to touch.
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