Body

Human nerve stem cells transplanted into rats' damaged spinal cords have survived, grown and in some cases connected with the rats' own spinal cord cells in a Johns Hopkins laboratory, overturning the long-held notion that spinal cords won't allow nerve repair.

The far-reaching influence of Spanish and Portuguese colonisers appears not to have extended to South American agriculture, scientists studying a 1,400-year-old Andean mummy have found.

The University of Manchester researchers compared the DNA of ancient maize found in the funerary offerings of the mummy and at other sites in northwest Argentina with that grown in the same region today.

In work that could dramatically boost the capabilities of "lab on a chip" devices, MIT researchers have created a way to use tiny bubbles to mimic the capabilities of a computer.

For cells that hold so much promise, stem cells' potential has so far gone largely untapped. But new research from Rockefeller University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists now shows that adult stem cells taken from skin can be used to clone mice using a procedure called nuclear transfer. The findings are reported in the Feb.

The Scripps Research team, led by neuroscientists Manuel Sanchez-Alavez and Tamas Bartfai, discovered that mice genetically altered to lack a molecule known as the EP3 receptor tend to be more active during their normal sleep cycle and to eat more. In the study, this led to weight increases of up to 30 percent relative to mice with the receptors.

New techniques paint clearer picture of amyloid formation associated with protein-based inheritance and neurodegenerative diseases such as mad cow, Alzheimer's

The new findings, which are being published the week of February 12 in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer significant insights into normal folding mechanisms as well as those that lead to abnormal amyloid fibril conversion. The new insights may lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases.

Some breaking news, just in time for Valentine's Day: Researchers have identified something called "sperm competition" that they think has evolved to ensure a genetic future. In sexual reproduction, natural selection is generally thought of as something that happens prior to – and in fact leads to -- the Big Event. This thinking holds, for example, that we are drawn to physical features that tell us our partner is healthy and will give us a fighting chance to carry on our genetic lineage.

Newborns with respiratory distress should be evaluated for primary ciliary dyskinesia, a rare genetic disease that has features similar to cystic fibrosis, says Thomas Ferkol, M.D., from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He reports finding that about 80 percent of patients with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) have a history of newborn respiratory distress.

A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine shows that fluctuations in Vitamin D3 levels control the body's innate immune response, affecting a skin wound's ability to heal.

Richard L. Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and chief of UCSD's Division of Dermatology and the Dermatology section of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, says that several unexpected associations between fluctuations of the body's vitamin D3 and infectious disease have emerged in recent investigations.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions have found a second genetic defect that accounts for previously unexplained forms of osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a disorder that weakens bones, sometimes results in frequent fractures and is sometimes fatal.