Brain

Termites know how to digest cellulose, but the human process of producing ethanol from cellulose is slow and expensive. The bottleneck is the rate at which the cellulose enzyme breaks down cellulose into sugars, which are then fermented into ethanol.

Parents-to-be might soon don 3-D glasses in the ultrasound lab to see their developing fetuses in the womb "in living 3-D, just like at the IMAX movies," according to researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering.

The same Duke team that first developed real-time, three-dimensional ultrasound imaging says it has now modified the commercial version of the scanner to produce an even more realistic perception of depth. Paired images seem to pop out of the screen when viewed with the special glasses.

Proper formation of the proteins that power heart and skeletal muscle seems to rely on a precise concentration of a "chaperone" protein known as UNC-45, according to a new study.

New research on companies that sprint to rapidly gain market share is revealing the danger of pursuing sudden massive growth, according to the Management Insights feature in the April issue of Management Science.

"Getting Big Too Fast: Strategic Dynamics with Increasing Returns and Bounded Rationality" is by John D. Sterman and Rebecca Henderson of MIT's Sloan School of Management; Eric D. Beinhocker, McKinsey Global Institute; and Lee I. Newman, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

Scientists have determined that a specific class of PCB causes significant developmental abnormalities in rat pups whose mothers were exposed to the toxicant in their food during pregnancy and during the early weeks when the pups were nursing.

New research helps bridge an important gap in understanding schizophrenia, providing the best evidence to date that defects in the brain's white matter are a key contributor to the disease, which affects about 1 percent of people worldwide.

When motor neurons damaged by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, inappropriately send the wrong signal, immune cells react by killing the messenger. Their surprising finding provides new direction for therapies to treat ALS.

The study was conducted in the laboratory of Don Cleveland, Ph.D., UCSD Professor of Medicine, Neurosciences and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and will be published online April 27 in advance of publication in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Oregon Health & Science University neuroscientists are eyeing a protein as a potential therapeutic target for multiple sclerosis because de-activating it protects nerve fibers from damage.

Researchers and clinicians already know that alcohol abuse and/or dependence can lead to severe and potentially irreversible brain damage. It is also known that women, when compared to men, seem to become more "damaged" by chronic alcohol abuse within a shorter period of drinking and with less overall consumption. A new study shows that female alcoholics may also sustain greater cognitive damage than male alcoholics.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a hormonal system that defends against stress, starvation and illnesses. New findings of alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol secretion in alcoholic patients, which reflect changes in the HPA axis, prompt recommendations that alcoholics avoid excessive stress – both physical and psychological – during early abstinence.

Results are published in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.