Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder, it’s in the eye

Posted on May 1st 2011 in News with Comments Off on Beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder, it’s in the eye

Yes, maybe it’s true that there are differing opinions on who we think of as attractive. Indeed, some people think Simon Cowell is good looking. Still cant get my head around that one,  but I digress. Yes, people have their own personal prefernces – blonde or brunette, brainy or brawny, etc.  However, numerous studies have shown that there are a significant number of traits that we all find attractive, no matter who we are. These include big eyes in women, big jaws in men, and symetrical faces (just think of Brad Pitt vs Steve Buscemi).  These features are all signal to potential…

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Genetic modification of bacteria leads to new vaccine

Posted on February 26th 2011 in News with Comments Off on Genetic modification of bacteria leads to new vaccine

A new type of vaccine for pneumonia based on genetically engineered bacteria has been developed, and may help in the fight against many other infectious diseases. The vaccine, which protects against a virulent form of the bacterium Streptococcus pnuemoniae, works by introducing a modified form of the bacterium that produces less pneumolysin – a toxic protein that damages blood vessels in the lungs and interferes with the immune system. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine identified the genetic sequence that codes for the pneumolysin protein and, using computer algorithms, created a modified gene which would decrease the amount…

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Evolution of antibiotic resistance mapped

Posted on February 3rd 2011 in News with Comments Off on Evolution of antibiotic resistance mapped

The genomes of hundreds of bacterial strains that cause pneumonia have been sequenced and may lead to new antibiotics and vaccines. 240 lineages of multidrug resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae were collected from around the world and their genomes sequenced in order to understand how the bacteria came to be so virulent. The research, published in the journal Science this week, compared the genetic sequences with the geographic locations of each specimen to produce a map of the major evolutionary events that have led to the diversity we see today. The team of scientists also pinpointed Europe as the probable birthplace of…

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Research uncovers genetic clues to a multitude of brain disorders

Posted on January 31st 2011 in News with Comments Off on Research uncovers genetic clues to a multitude of brain disorders

New research has revealed the genetic origins of 133 brain disorders, paving the way for new ways of diagnosis and treatment for some of the most common debilitating diseases. The findings come as part of a pioneering study into the genetic and chemical makeup of synapses, the parts of neurons that connect neighbouring cells together. The scientists identified 1,461 proteins that make up the post-synaptic density (PSD) – an area that regulates the flow of information recieved from other nerve cells. Mutations in 199 of these proteins were found to be responsible for a variety of neurological and psychiatric diseases…

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Butterflies in the stomach

Posted on January 21st 2011 in News with Comments Off on Butterflies in the stomach

The thought of climate change may leave you with a sinking feeling in your stomach, what with rising sea levels and increasing extinction rates. Research published recently in PLoS has suggested a novel way of helping the planet, although it is unlikely to help the situation in your stomach. Eating insects can, apparently, reduce our individual carbon footprint, by removing our dependency on carbon-intensive sources of protein (like a nice juicy steak or a crispy bacon sarnie). The livestock sector is one of the most prolific producers of greenhouse gases, amounting up to around 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions….

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Anti-arthritis drugs could prevent cognitive decline

Posted on January 20th 2011 in News with Comments Off on Anti-arthritis drugs could prevent cognitive decline

Drugs used to treat arthritis may help prevent cognitive problems that can occur after surgery, according to new research from Imperial College London and the University of California. For years, doctors have struggled to explain why some patients experience confusion, learning disorders and memory loss, a condition known as post-operative cognitive decline. Research from Imperial College has found evidence that the disorder is caused by cytokines, molecules secreted by the immune system that transmit information between cells. Surgery causes a cascade of immune responses, resulting in the increased production of cytokines. Drugs that target the activity of cytokines are widely…

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X-rays for the masses

Posted on January 15th 2011 in News with Comments Off on X-rays for the masses

A next generation of “table-top” X-ray machines could soon be made available, thanks to research from Imperial College. Scientific and medical advances depend on the development of better diagnostic and analytical tools. Sources of high quality X-rays are in huge demand for scientific research, yet few dedicated synchrotron facilities exist worldwide due to their huge size and cost. The study, published in the journal Nature Physics, outlined a future where these high energy X-ray systems could be housed in a chamber only 1 meter on each side. The, for comparison, is half a kilometre in circumference. “This is a very…

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This little piggie had a rather nice outfit

Posted on December 29th 2010 in News with Comments Off on This little piggie had a rather nice outfit

New evidence has been uncovered which may explain the origin of the hugely variable coat colours found in domesticated animals. The research from Durham University has shown human preference to be the cause of the varying colours and not, as was thought before, random mutations. The study, co-authored by Dr Greger Larson of the Department of Archaeology, compared a gene known as melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) in domesticated pigs with their cousins, the Asian and European wild boar. This gene is also present in many other domesticated animals, including cattle, dogs and horses, and is one that has been associated…

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