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[personal profile] jjhunter2013-10-21 12:50 pm
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Applying RNA interference to cancer treatments

A neat bit of engineering in this press release from MIT today, One-two punch knocks out aggressive tumors.
To improve Doxil’s effectiveness, Hammond’s team wanted to combine it with another type of therapy known as RNA interference (RNAi), which uses very short strands of RNA to block the expression of specific genes inside a living cell.

The researchers used a technique called layer-by-layer assembly to coat the Doxil particles with one layer of siRNA mixed with a positively charged polymer that helps to stabilize the RNA. This layer contains up to 3,500 siRNA molecules, each targeted to block a gene that allows cancer cells to pump the drug molecules out of the cells.

One of the major challenges that researchers have faced in developing RNAi as a cancer treatment is getting the particles to survive in the bloodstream long enough to reach their intended targets. To overcome this, the MIT particles include an outer coating of hyaluronic acid. These molecules absorb water, allowing the nanoparticles to flow through blood vessels undisturbed, Hammond says.

“This stealth layer becomes a cushion of water surrounding the nanoparticle, which allows it to go through the bloodstream as if it were water,” Hammond says. “That makes it circulate much more effectively.”
n.b. for more info on RNA interference, see this NIH factsheet.
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[personal profile] jjhunter2013-10-16 07:54 am

New Theory of Synapse Formation in the Brain

Forschungszentrum Jülich press release: New Theory of Synapse Formation in the Brain
Jülich, 10 October 2013 – The human brain keeps changing throughout a person’s lifetime. New connections are continually created while synapses that are no longer in use degenerate. To date, little is known about the mechanisms behind these processes. Jülich neuroinformatician Dr. Markus Butz has now been able to ascribe the formation of new neural networks in the visual cortex to a simple homeostatic rule that is also the basis of many other self-regulating processes in nature. With this explanation, he and his colleague Dr. Arjen van Ooyen from Amsterdam also provide a new theory on the plasticity of the brain – and a novel approach to understanding learning processes and treating brain injuries and diseases.

Associated PLOS Computational Biology article is freely available online: Markus Butz + Arjen van Ooyen's A Simple Rule for Dendritic Spine and Axonal Bouton Formation Can Account for Cortical Reorganization after Focal Retinal Lesions.

Admins, can we have a 'Neuro' tag of some kind? (Neuroscience / Neurobiology / etc.)
jjhunter: Closeup of the face from postcard of da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' with alterations made by Duchamp, i.e. moustache and goatee. (LHOOQ)
[personal profile] jjhunter2013-06-20 11:11 am

Visualizing Cancer

At my journal I'm soliciting recommendations for good historical and/or scientific images (or sources for finding them!) for illustrating in-depth discussion of cancer. See the post for details.

ETA: admins, can there be a tag or tags for posts to this community to the effect of 'visual meta', 'scientific illustration', 'visual communication', or 'visualizing science'? Thanks!
jjhunter: Flaming Klein Bottle with image of the face of Dean Winchester (SPN) in b&w to the left (catch divider)
[personal profile] jjhunter2013-05-14 03:20 pm
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oh goodie: another coronavirus outbreak

NPR has a decent overview here; I've posted my own more technical overview at my journal, News to Watch: MERS; and as always, you can get reliable up-to-date info on disease outbreaks @ the WHO site, e.g. GAR: Coronavirus infections.
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OneTwoThree Death!

Saw this piece today, and thought it was worth sharing. It's an engaging little article about the awesomeness of the mantis shrimp.


The sea has all the best things.
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[personal profile] yvi2010-12-23 05:49 pm

Babyscientists :D

Awesome Eight-Year-Olds Publish Bee Study in Legit Scientific Journal

You can read the full paper online for free And it is fun! Where else will you get a Materials & Methods section with this in it:

(b) The bees

The bees had black and yellow stripes with white bottoms. The type of bee was Bombus terrestris. The beehive was delivered from Koppert (UK).
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[personal profile] ingrid2010-05-22 11:14 am
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biology linkspam

I just made a hopefully weekly update with some of the interesting news in biological science. My opinion on Craig Venter's synthetic life. Cute pictures of handfish. Links to papers you'd mainly care about if you're me.
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[personal profile] redsnake052010-03-31 06:15 pm
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Orca kills pseudo orca - caught on camera

This one made the front page of my local paper, as it happened fairly close to here:

A pod of eight orca pursued a pod of pseudo orca - a smaller dolphin that has similar markings - before one, female orca singled out a pseudo orca and apparently played with it and tossed it about 10m into the air before breaking its back with her nose as it fell. The pseudo orca and its calf were then both eaten by the orca pod as the rest of the pseudo orca pod fled.

What made this so fascinating was that it happened about 50 - 100m from a tourist whale-watching boat, and there is now clear footage of the event. You can see the orca flip the pseudo orca high into the air.

Orca in NZ have quite a taste for stingrays (we get them up our harbour, hunting stingrays), but obviously the population here doesn't confine itself to just cold-blooded food groups.
[personal profile] semblance2010-03-19 02:07 pm
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Symphony of Science

I didn't see this link posted yet on passing glance, so I decided to go ahead and throw it out there. Apologies if this is an old hat.

holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (science)
[personal profile] holyschist2010-02-14 06:41 pm

Software for SCIENCE (also, dinosaurs)

Folks working on theses, dissertations, papers, and the like: what software have you found especially useful?

My favorites and a question )

And if you don't care about scientific software, or just like dinosaurs:

True-Color Dinosaur Revealed: First Full-Body Rendering (Here's another article with a watercolor illustration, if you can't load the animation). Fossil color research is a super-interesting area, and the Yale folks are doing amazing work. Plus this amuses me, because I saw the AMNH's traveling dinosaur exhibit last year and went seriously?! at a small feathered dinosaur in a diorama that the artist chose to feather very similarly to a pileated woodpecker. How likely is that? I thought. Well, apparently more likely than I thought!
[personal profile] rho2009-09-03 08:36 am
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Fantasy Genomics

Olivia Judson asks in her NYT column/blog ([syndicated profile] olivia_judson_feed):

If you could pick any organism to have its whole genome sequenced — what would it be?

She chose the coelacanth, which is a fine choice, but she got me thinking about other alternatives that I might choose, if I were in the position.

My first thought here was trichoplax, an amorphous little blob of an animal close to the base of the animal family tree, and with a relatively small genome to boot. I see that there’s a trichoplax project underway already though, so onto my next idea.

After a bit of thought I decided on the Tasmanian Devil for a few reasons:

1. Marsupial sequencing is much thinner on the ground than placental sequencing, and having more marsupials sequenced could be instructive when it comes to comparing us with our more distant mammalian cousins.

2. Devil Facial Tumour Disease is pretty terrifying. Or rather, the thought of a similar transmissible cancer that effected humans ever existing is terrifying. If we better understood the devils, we’d have a better chance of understanding their cancer.

3. There are conservation concerns here too, with DFTD threatening the devils as a species.

4. The Tasmanian devil is a charismatic and iconic animal that fires the public imagination. Science and conservation both desperately need to get the general public as interested as possible.

So what would you choose? And if you're an actual real biologist, why are my choices hopelessly naive and bad?
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[personal profile] foxfirefey2009-05-07 11:10 am
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Meet the mimivirus!

A paper has come out that photographs the mimivirus, which straddles the boundaries between bacteria and viruses. See the paper itself on PLoS here. A good read for people who like microbiology or scientific visualizations.
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[personal profile] freya2009-05-07 05:32 pm
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Swine Flu, the way it should be. :D

For those that don't read popbitch (or, apparently, CNN), there's a guy who has translated a sequence of amino acids which code for one of the surface proteins in Swineflu into a piece of music.

The concept is A+++, even if the actual piece of music is a bit not good, really.

holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
[personal profile] holyschist2009-05-01 12:29 am

Okay, to (maybe) stir things up: Paleocene dinosaurs?

The current issue of Palaeontologica Electronica published a paper on New Geochronologic and Stratigraphic Evidence Confirms the Paleocene Age of the Dinosaur-Bearing Ojo Alamo Sandstone and Animas Formation in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico and Colorado.

This isn't a new discovery, but the careful analysis of the magnetostratigraphy, palynology, and sedimentology is, and it strengthens the case for some dinosaurs (relatively) briefly surviving the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction in some areas.

I haven't read the paper in excruciating detail yet (end of the semester, ack!), but I will post some more thoughts on it later. For now, if there are any other paleo geeks here, I'd love to hear your thoughts!