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Life Sciences - Mechanical Engineering - 27.02.2013
Songbirds’ brains coordinate singing with intricate timing, study shows
As a bird sings, some neurons in its brain prepare to make the next sounds while others are synchronized with the current notes—a coordination of physical actions and brain activity that is needed to produce complex movements, new research at the University of Chicago shows. In an article in the current issue of Nature , neuroscientist Daniel Margoliash and colleagues show, for the first time, how the brain is organized to govern skilled performance—a finding that may lead to new ways of understanding human speech production.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 27.02.2013
Reading the Human Genome
Reading the Human Genome
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have achieved a major advance in understanding how genetic information is transcribed from DNA to RNA by providing the first step-by-step look at the biomolecular machinery that reads the human genome.

Life Sciences - 27.02.2013
Wasp transcriptome creates a buzz
Wasp transcriptome creates a buzz
New research delivers a sting in the tail for queen wasps. Scientists at the University of Bristol have sequenced the active parts of the genome - or transcriptome - of primitively eusocial wasps to identify which part makes a queen or a worker. The study, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology , shows that workers have a more active transcriptome than queens.

Life Sciences - Health - 27.02.2013
New tool in the fight against tropical diseases
The unique screening method uses yeasts that have been genetically engineered to express parasite and human proteins to identify chemical compounds that target disease-causing parasites but do not affect their human hosts. Parasitic diseases affect millions of people annually, often in the most deprived parts of the world.

Health - Life Sciences - 27.02.2013
Bowel cancers reshuffle their genetic pack to cheat treatment
Bowel cancers reshuffle their genetic pack to cheat treatment
Bowel cancer cells missing one of three genes can rapidly reshuffle their genetic 'pack of cards' - the chromosomes that hold the cell's genetic information. This reshuffling has been previously shown to render tumours more resistant to treatment. New research shows that this genetic 'card trick' can be caused by the deletion of three genes found on one particular chromosome, a region known as '18q'.

Life Sciences - 27.02.2013
Ship noise makes crabs get crabby
Ship noise makes crabs get crabby
A study published today in Biology Letters found that ship noise affects crab metabolism, with largest crabs faring worst, and found little evidence that crabs acclimatise to noise over time. The team from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter found that crabs exposed to recordings of ship noise showed an increase in metabolic rate, indicating elevated stress.

Life Sciences - Health - 26.02.2013
Research in the News: Previously unknown world of life found on common apple blossom
A succession of distinct but surprising microbial communities populate apple blossoms during the flowers' life cycle, suggesting that the bacteria have a carefully regulated relationship with the common fruit tree, say Yale scientists. University researchers have pinpointed for the first time the identity of some of these microbes, including a form of bacteria previously known to exist in the human mouth and ocean.

Life Sciences - Health - 25.02.2013
Psychogenic diseases linked to abnormal brain activity
Psychogenic diseases linked to abnormal brain activity
Individuals with psychogenic disease (i.e. physical illness stemming from emotional or mental stresses) have brains that function differently to people with organic diseases, according to new research from UCL and the University of Cambridge. Psychogenic diseases, formerly known as 'hysterical' illnesses, may look very similar to genetic diseases of the nervous system or to illnesses caused by damage to the nerves, brain or muscles.

Life Sciences - Health - 25.02.2013
DNA editor named runner-up breakthrough of 2012
DNA editor named runner-up breakthrough of 2012
A discovery that allows life scientists to precisely edit genomes for everything from crop and livestock improvement to human gene and cell therapy was named runner-up for Science magazine's 2012 Breakthrough of the Year. The work by Adam Bogdanove, Cornell professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology, joined eight other runners-up to Breakthrough of the Year - the discovery of the Higgs boson - in the magazine's Dec.

Health - Life Sciences - 25.02.2013
Capturing cancer cells
Capturing cancer cells
When dealing with cancer, time is critical. Identifying cancer before it spreads can often be the difference between life and death, so early diagnosis is key. Cancers begin in one part of the body and often spread through the bloodstream into other organs. This process is known as 'metastasis', and causes secondary tumours, 'metastases', to grow at other locations in the body.

Health - Life Sciences - 25.02.2013
Study questions effectiveness of genetic testing strategy for inherited high cholesterol
Study questions effectiveness of genetic testing strategy for inherited high cholesterol
A substantial proportion of individuals with a clinical diagnosis of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH) inherit a combination of small-effect changes in several genes (polygenic) rather than a large-effect mutation in a single gene (monogenic), according to a new paper in The Lancet . The findings have implications for the majority of national guidelines on family screening for FH, that advocate testing relatives of all individuals with a clinical diagnosis of FH, including those of the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Environment - Life Sciences - 25.02.2013
Large herbivores may buffer effect of climate change on plant communities
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. Whether existing ecological communities can persist intact as temperatures rise may depend as much on biological interactions that shape communities themselves as on the effects of climate change, according to a Penn State researcher. Eric Post, professor of biology, simulated climate change and integrated the effects of large, plant-eating mammals in a 10-year Arctic field experiment.

Health - Life Sciences - 25.02.2013
New type of gene that regulates tumour suppressor PTEN identified
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified a new so-called pseudogene that regulates the tumour-suppressing PTEN gene. They hope that this pseudogene will be able to control PTEN to reverse the tumour process, make the cancer tumour more sensitive to chemotherapy and to prevent the development of resistance.

Life Sciences - Health - 25.02.2013
Ability of brain to protect itself from damage revealed
The origin of an innate ability the brain has to protect itself from damage that occurs in stroke has been explained for the first time. The Oxford University researchers hope that harnessing this inbuilt biological mechanism, identified in rats, could help in treating stroke and preventing other neurodegenerative diseases in the future.

Life Sciences - 24.02.2013
Origins of body fat
Yale School of Medicine researchers have answered a question millions regularly and plaintively ask themselves: Where did all that fat come from? The research paper, published online Feb. Cell Biology, identifies specific cell types that eventually morph into white adipocytes - the cells most people recognize as fat.

Life Sciences - Health - 22.02.2013
Genomic detectives crack the case of the missing heritability
Genomic detectives crack the case of the missing heritability
Despite years of research, the genetic factors behind many human diseases and characteristics remain unknown. The inability to find the complete genetic causes of family traits such as height or the risk of type 2 diabetes has been called the "missing heritability" problem. A new study by Princeton University researchers, however, suggests that missing heritability may not be missing after all — at least not in yeast cells, which the researchers used as a model for studying the problem.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 21.02.2013
Plant mating styles influence defense evolution
Plant mating styles influence defense evolution
When it comes to mating, plants do it in many ways. On one end of the spectrum, there are plants that self-fertilize or mate with relatives (inbreeders); on the other are plants that mate with nonrelatives (outcrossers). The two types of mating styles have evolved very different defense strategies, Cornell researchers have found.

Life Sciences - Health - 21.02.2013
Life's tiniest architects pinpointed by Yale researchers
Life’s tiniest architects pinpointed by Yale researchers
If a genome is the blueprint for life, then the chief architects are tiny slices of genetic material that orchestrate how we are assembled and function, Yale School of Medicine researchers report Feb. 21 in the journal Developmental Cell. The study pinpoints the molecular regulators of epigenetics - the process by which unchanging genes along our DNA are switched on and off at precisely right time and place.

Health - Life Sciences - 21.02.2013
Human heart development slower than other mammals
The walls of the human heart are a disorganised jumble of tissue until relatively late in pregnancy, despite having the shape of a fully functioning heart, according to a pioneering study. Experts from the University of Sheffield's Medical School collaborated on research to create the first comprehensive model of human heart development using observations of living foetal hearts.

Life Sciences - 21.02.2013
Low pitched song indicates fairy-wren size
The study led by University of Melbourne researcher Michelle Hall, is the first to show that the larger the male fairy wren, the lower the pitch of his song. "This is the first time we have been able to show that song pitch indicates body size in song birds," said Hall from the University's Department of Zoology.