Life Sciences and Chemistry

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences and chemistry area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Scientific results: to patent or publish?

A Commission survey on the patenting and publication by EU scientists and organisations from industry and academia involved in biotechnology and genetic engineering research, that highlights the need for support to and training of academics in the proper use of the patent system. Public research organisations can handle patent applications almost as professionally as industrial organisations and without significantly delaying the publication of results that are subject to patent applications. In cont

University of Sussex biologists estimate the pace of evolution

Scientists at the University of Sussex have provided the key to resolving a 30-year-old controversy in evolutionary biology: what proportion of the differences between similar species came about as a result of natural selection, and how many are just the result of ‘random genetic drift’. In a paper in this week’s issue of Nature (28 February), Sussex biologists put the ratio at 45:55.

The DNA sequences of humans and chimpanzees differ by less than 2% but this adds up to about 350,000 amino a

Researchers Devise Process to Make Designer Plastics for Hairspray, Anti-Obesity Drugs and Inkjet Printer Ink

Research chemists at the University of Warwick have devised and patented a new process called Living and Controlled Radical Polymerisation which can cheaply and easily grow designer polymers (plastics). They have already used the process to produce a wide range of designer polymer designs that are now being tested by major companies for use in applications as diverse as hairspray, anti-obesity drugs and inkjet printer ink.

Previously “designer-polymers” could only be synthesised by resorting

Centuries Later, Chinese Lotus Seeds Still Sprout

Nearly 500 years after forming in their parent plant, lotus seeds from a Chinese lakebed have sprouted seedlings of their own, researchers say. According to the lead author of a study detailing the findings, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Botany, the cultivation of offspring from seeds this ancient is “a first in plant biology.”

Biologist Jane Shen-Miller of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues collected 20 ancient lotus seeds on a trip to Chi

Intellect thrives on sleep

Land of nod is a learning experience

Cramming all night might help you to scrape through exams, but it won’t make you clever in the long run. Human and animal experiments are lending new support to a common parental adage: that a good night’s sleep is essential to learning.

“Modern life’s erosion of sleep time could be seriously short-changing our education potential,” warned Robert Stickgold of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the meeting of American Associatio

Stop and search

Glowing nanobots map microscopic surfaces.

Unleashing hordes of molecular robots to explore a surface’s terrain can produce maps of microscopic structures and devices with higher resolutions than those produced by conventional microscopes, new research shows.

Each robot has a ’light’ attached to it, allowing its random movements to be tracked around obstacles, through cracks or under overhangs. Adding the paths of hundreds of wandering nanobots together builds up a map of th

UWE scientists find link between wilting plants and impotence

Researchers studying plant behaviour have discovered similarities between the processes preventing plants from wilting and humans from suffering impotence. Data recently published by the University of the West of England shows the same chemical chain of events is involved in both situations – and has led to an understanding of how water loss from plants might be reduced.

This blocking action has parallels with the chemical effect of impotence treatments in humans. Plants lose water through

Bath toys show strength in numbers

Miniature floating craft can be programmed to move and assemble in complex ways.

Harvard chemists are playing with bath toys. Floating bubble-powered craft designed to attract and repel one another, are helping them model the machinations of groups such as foraging ants, nest-building termites or schools of fish 1 .

Group dynamics are not always obvious from individuals’ behaviour, but emerge from their interactions. Computer models can simulate such processe

Fission statement

Alternative yeast joins genome party.

First there was budding yeast ( Saccharomyces cerevisiae ). Partly responsible for scientists’ survival by fermenting their staples beer and bread, they polished off its DNA sequence back in 1997.

Now the minority fungus of lab culture – fission yeast ( Schizosaccharomyces pombe ) – is fighting back. This week S. pombe enters the experimental big leagues, with the announcement of its completed genome 1

Sounding the alarm for infections: EMBL researchers discover rapid-response, interferon-producing cells

Nearly fifty years ago, researchers discovered that when cells in laboratory cultures are infected by a virus, they secrete a substance that protects other cells from infection. In 1957 Alick Issaks and Jean-Jacques Lindenmann traced this effect to a protein called interferon, a molecule now known to play a key role in the immune system. Human and animal cells produce it in a rapid “first wave” response to infections. Since its discovery, scientists have sought to use this natural substance to cure a

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