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How a member of a family of light-sensitive proteins adjusts skin...

Skin colors concept. Credit: © luaeva / Adobe Stock A team of Brown University researchers found that opsin 3 -- a protein closely related to rhodopsin, the protein that enables low-light vision -- has a role in adjusting the amount of pigment produced in human skin, a determinant of skin color. When humans spend time…

Dangerous pathogens use this sophisticated machinery to infect hosts

Pathogens illustration (stock image). Credit: © beawolf / Adobe Stock Gastric cancer, Q fever, Legionnaires' disease, whooping cough -- though the infectious bacteria that cause these dangerous diseases are each different, they all utilize the same molecular machinery to infect human cells. Bacteria use this machinery, called a Type IV secretion system (T4SS), to inject…

Brain’s insular cortex processes pain and drives learning from pain

Pain concept (touching cactus). Credit: © DragonImages / Adobe Stock Acute pain, e.g. hitting your leg against a sharp object, causes an abrupt, unpleasant feeling. In this way, we learn from painful experiences to avoid future harmful situations. This is called "threat learning" and helps animals and humans to survive. But which part of the…

Brain changes in autism traced to specific cell types

Autism concept. Credit: © Feng Yu / Adobe Stock Changes in gene activity in specific brain cells are associated with the severity of autism in children and young adults with the disorder, according to a UC San Francisco study of postmortem brain tissue. The study's new insights into how specific changes in gene expression contribute…

Natural compound found in broccoli reawakens the function of potent tumor...

Broccoli. Credit: © Cozine / Adobe Stock Your mother was right; broccoli is good for you. Long associated with decreased risk of cancer, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables -- the family of plants that also includes cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, Brussels sprouts and kale -- contain a molecule that inactivates a gene known to play…

Genomic collision may explain why many kidney transplants fail

Illustration of kidneys. Credit: © peterschreiber.media / Adobe Stock A genomic collision could explain why many kidney transplants fail, even when donors and recipients are thought to be well-matched, according to a new study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. This genomic collision is a genetic incompatibility between kidney donor…

A new way of diagnosing and treating disease — without cutting...

Laser light (stock image). Credit: © ivanovevgeniy / Adobe Stock University of British Columbia researchers have developed a specialized microscope that has the potential ability to both diagnose diseases that include skin cancer and perform incredibly precise surgery -- all without cutting skin. The researchers describe the technology in a study published today in Science…

Brain researchers seek ‘fingerprints’ of severe mental diseases

Workings of the brain concept. Credit: © freshidea / Adobe Stock Researchers from McLean Hospital and Yale University have published findings of their study of large-scale systems in the brain, findings that could improve understanding of the symptoms and causes of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and other mental illnesses. Their paper, "Functional Connectomics of Affective…

A nerve cell serves as a ‘single’ for studies

Neuron illustration. Credit: © shumpc / Adobe Stock Nerve cells derived from human stem cells often serve as the basis for research into brain diseases. However, these cells differ considerably in their quality and produce varying results. Scientists around the world are therefore looking for simple cell models that lead to consistent results when an…

Habitual coffee drinkers really do wake up and smell the coffee

Smelling coffee. Credit: © EdNurg / Adobe Stock Regular coffee drinkers can sniff out even tiny amounts of coffee and are faster at recognising the aroma, compared to non-coffee drinkers, new research has found. Habitual coffee drinkers are not just more sensitive to the odour of coffee and faster to identify it, but the more…

Brain researchers seek ‘fingerprints’ of severe mental diseases

Workings of the brain concept. Credit: © freshidea / Adobe Stock Researchers from McLean Hospital and Yale University have published findings of their study of large-scale systems in the brain, findings that could improve understanding of the symptoms and causes of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and other mental illnesses. Their paper, "Functional Connectomics of Affective…

Flu virus’ best friend: Low humidity

Influenza virus illustration. Credit: © Axel Kock / Adobe Stock Yale researchers have pinpointed a key reason why people are more likely to get sick and even die from flu during winter months: low humidity. While experts know that cold temperatures and low humidity promote transmission of the flu virus, less is understood about the…

Measuring chromosome imbalance could clarify cancer prognosis

Chromosomes illustration. Credit: © peterschreiber.media / Adobe Stock Most human cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Any deviation from this number can be fatal for cells, and several genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, are caused by abnormal numbers of chromosomes. For decades, biologists have also known that cancer cells often have too few or…

Coffee: How many cups are too much to drink a day?

Cup of coffee. Credit: © dimakp / Adobe Stock Latte, cappuccino or short black, a morning coffee is an essential for many people looking to kick start their day. But while the humble coffee may be a vital feature of the daily grind, how much is too much? While the pros and cons of drinking…

An electric tongue can handle more spicy foods than you can

Ghost peppers. Credit: © Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock Spicy food is huge business, and Washington State University researchers have found that an electronic tongue, or e-tongue, is more effective and accurate in taste-testing fiery foods than sensitive human taste buds. In a new paper in the Journal of Food Science, recent WSU graduate student…

To cheat or not to cheat? Researchers uncover the moral dilemmas...

Medals and pills. Credit: © martinfredy / Adobe Stock Elite athletes are less likely to take banned substances if they consider the morality of what they are doing, and not just the health consequences of doping, according to a new study led by the University of Birmingham and funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).…

Fooling nerve cells into acting normal

Nerve cell illustration. Credit: © peterschreiber.media / Adobe Stock Nerve cells, or neurons -- specifically the "workhorse cells" involved in walking, breathing and chewing -- can adjust to changes in the body, but they never stop working unless there is an fatal injury. What exactly signals neurons to keep acting and operating normally has not…

Fooling nerve cells into acting normal

Nerve cell illustration. Credit: © peterschreiber.media / Adobe Stock Nerve cells, or neurons -- specifically the "workhorse cells" involved in walking, breathing and chewing -- can adjust to changes in the body, but they never stop working unless there is an fatal injury. What exactly signals neurons to keep acting and operating normally has not…

New brain tumor imaging technique uses protein found in scorpion venom

Scorpion. Credit: © Volodymyr Shevchuk / Adobe Stock A novel imaging technique that uses a synthesized form of scorpion venom to light up brain tumors has shown promise in a clinical trial. The imaging system enables neurosurgeons to better see malignant growths that often are difficult to fully eliminate. Results from the multi-institutional clinical trial,…

New analysis predicts top U.S. counties at risk for measles outbreaks

Vaccination. Credit: © Mediteraneo / Adobe Stock A team of researchers has identified 25 U.S. counties that are most likely to experience measles outbreaks in 2019. Their analysis is based on international air travel volume, non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations, population data, and reported measles outbreak information. The predictions were published today in The Lancet…

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