In the search for disease treatments, the next best thing to human guinea pigs is, well, actual pigs. Believe it or not, their skin and cardiovascular, digestive, urinary and central nervous systems are all very similar to ours.
How will the next American president keep the country at the center of the high-tech universe?
By Michael Moyer and Amanda SchupakPosted 10.30.2008 at 3:24 pm 0 Comments
The technological dominance of the United States may soon go the way of the dollar. Our statistical snapshot shows that government spending on pure research—the kind of investment that pays off big, but only after decades—is in decline. Our schools educate the world, but students increasingly return home with their advanced degrees. Most discouraging, the U.S. now imports more high-tech goods than it exports.
Cloning the green goo's factories for producing light-sensitive proteins could lead to more effective treatments for certain types of blindness
By Dan SmithPosted 05.23.2008 at 1:23 pm 3 Comments
What if the key to curing blindness was found in unicellular algae?
In a recent study published in the journal Nature, a group of scientists were able to restore light sensitivity to formerly blind mice using a protein extracted from algaes of the genus Chlamydomonas. The Chlamydomonas are of particular interest because they exhibit phototaxis—an ability to orient themselves toward light sources to aid in photosynthesis. Eager to understand what caused this phenomenon on a genetic level, scientists at the Max Planck institute in 2003 isolated a sequence of genes that stored the blueprints for generating light-sensitive proteins. And now, a joint team of researchers from the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Switzerland and the Harvard Medical School have recently developed a therapy that introduces these genes into the eyes of blind mice. What they observed was a dramatic behavioral change that proved the mice had regained their sensitivity to light.
New research indicates that individual cells may need guidance in times of stress
By Matt RansfordPosted 05.12.2008 at 1:24 pm 1 Comment
It is well known how we humans respond to immediate stress—through a phenomenon we share with all animals known as fight or flight. During these times of increased threat, our bodies' systems work in concert to raise our heart rate, pump adrenaline, and sharpen our focus. Now scientists working at Northwestern University have discovered that these responses may be coordinated by special stress-receptor neurons, rather than in each cell individually.
Scientists studying the oft-maligned undersea creature are finding more than meets the eye
By Dan SmithPosted 03.27.2008 at 4:37 pm 2 Comments
Though its one of the most perfectly named living things on this planet, the sea cucumber, on first glance, isn't among the most exciting aquatic species. Distantly related to starfish and sea urchins, the sea cucumber in appearance lacks the brio and allure of its cousins, and except for a few variations among subspecies, the general body plan of the cucumber basically resembles a large, leathery sausage crawling along the ocean floor. Yum.