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Current Cell Biology News and Events, Cell Biology News Articles.
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Iconic Sinosauropteryx dinosaur had bandit mask, lived in open terrain
While fossils have allowed researchers to reconstruct much about dinosaurs' many impressive forms, it wasn't until more recently that scientists realized they could discern from preserved skin and feathers many details of dinosaurs' color patterns, too. Now researchers reporting in Current Biology on Oct. 26 who've carefully examined three specimens of the iconic Sinosauropteryx dinosaur from China have confirmed that the small dinosaur had a striped tail. It also had a 'bandit mask' (think: raccoon). (2017-10-26)

These shrews have heads that shrink with the season
If any part of the body would seem ill equipped to shrink, it would probably be the head and skull. And, yet, researchers reporting in Current Biology on Oct. 23 have found that the skulls of red-toothed shrews do shrink in anticipation of winter, by up to 20 percent. As spring approaches, their heads grow again to approach their previous size. (2017-10-23)

Brain training can improve our understanding of speech in noisy places
For many people with hearing challenges, trying to follow a conversation in a crowded restaurant or other noisy venue is a major struggle, even with hearing aids. Now researchers reporting in Current Biology on Oct. 19 have some good news: time spent playing a specially designed, brain-training audiogame could help. (2017-10-19)

Ancient DNA offers new view on saber-toothed cats' past
Researchers who've analyzed the complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient samples representing two species of saber-toothed cats have a new take on the animals' history over the last 50,000 years. The data suggest that the saber-toothed cats shared a common ancestor with all living cat-like species about 20 million years ago. The two saber-toothed cat species under study diverged from each other about 18 million years ago. (2017-10-19)

Gut bacteria from wild mice boost health in lab mice
Laboratory mice that are given the gut bacteria of wild mice can survive a deadly flu virus infection and fight colorectal cancer dramatically better than laboratory mice with their own gut bacteria, researchers report Oct. 19 in the journal Cell. (2017-10-19)

Newfoundland populated multiple times by distinct groups, DNA evidence shows
Researchers who've examined genetic evidence from mitochondrial DNA provide evidence that two groups of indigenous people in Canada, known as the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk, brought different matrilines to the island, adding further support to the notion that those groups had distinct population histories. The findings are published in Current Biology on Oct. 12. (2017-10-12)

No trace of early contact between Rapanui and South Americans in ancient DNA
Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) has long been a source of intrigue and mystery. How did such a small community of people build so many impressively large statues? And what happened to cause that community to collapse? Researchers have also been curious about what kind of contact Rapa Nui's inhabitants might have had with South Americans prior to the arrival of Europeans. Earlier evidence seemed to support early contact between the Rapanui and Native Americans. (2017-10-12)

Study finds new feature of 'baby talk' in any language
When talking with their young infants, parents instinctively use 'baby talk,' a unique form of speech including exaggerated pitch contours and short, repetitive phrases. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on Oct. 12 have found another unique feature of the way mothers talk to their babies: they shift the timbre of their voice in a rather specific way. The findings hold true regardless of a mother's native language. (2017-10-12)

Cell contacts in embryonic development determine cellular fate
The average human consists of about 37.2 trillion cells. But not all cells are created equal: while muscle cells contain the molecular machinery to contract and relax your muscles, some neurons send meter-long axons from the spinal cord to the tip of your toes, and red blood cells bind oxygen and transport it around the body. How does a cell 'know' which function to fulfill? (2017-10-12)

Some plants grow bigger -- and meaner -- when clipped, study finds
Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these 'overcompensators,' as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry -- think plant venom -- when they are clipped. The discovery could lead to the development of new methods for boosting plant growth while reducing the need for insecticides, the researchers said. (2017-10-11)

New breast cancer drug defeats the Ras genes notorious for causing many types of cancer
A new study led by VCU Massey Cancer Center researcher Paul Dent, Ph.D., has shown the recently approved breast cancer drug neratinib can block the function of Ras as well as several other oncogenes through an unexpected process. (2017-10-10)

Molecular basis for memory and learning
Learning and memory are two important functions of the brain that are based on the brain's plasticity. Scientists from Goethe University Frankfurt report in the latest issue of the scientific journal Cell Reports how a trio of key molecules directs these processes. Their findings provide new leads for the therapy of Alzheimer's disease. (2017-10-09)

Computer program detects differences between human cells
'How many different cell types are there in a human body? And how do these differences develop? Nobody really knows,' says Professor Stein Aerts from KU Leuven and VIB, Belgium. But thanks to a new method developed by his team, that may be about to change. (2017-10-09)

More traits associated with your Neandertal DNA
After humans and Neandertals met many thousands of years ago, the two species began interbreeding. Recent studies have shown that some of those Neandertal genes have contributed to human immunity and modern diseases. Now researchers reporting in the American Journal of Human Genetics on Oct. 5 have found that our Neandertal inheritance has contributed to other characteristics, too, including skin tone, hair color, sleep patterns, mood, and even a person's smoking status. (2017-10-05)

Once declared extinct, Lord Howe Island stick insects really do live
Lord Howe Island stick insects were once numerous on the tiny crescent-shaped island off the coast of Australia for which they are named. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on Oct. 5 who have analyzed the DNA of living and dead Lord Howe Island stick insects have some good news: those rediscovered on Ball's Pyramid, which are now being bred at the Melbourne Zoo and elsewhere, really are Lord Howe Island stick insects. (2017-10-05)

How yellow and blue make green in parrots
Many brightly colored birds get their pigments from the foods that they eat, but that's not true of parrots. Now, researchers reporting a study of familiar pet store parakeets -- also known as budgies -- have new evidence to explain how the birds produce their characteristic yellow, blue, and green feathers.The findings reported in the journal Cell on Oct. 5 promise to add an important dimension to evolutionary studies of parrots, the researchers say. (2017-10-05)

Global research team fills language gap in plant science
To keep pace with the fast-evolving study of cellular plant science, an international team of researchers has created terminology and definitions likely to become everyday language in laboratories and university classrooms worldwide. (2017-10-03)

Fecal transplant success for diabetes might depend on the recipient's gut microbes
A small clinical trial in the Netherlands found that a fecal transplant from a lean donor can temporarily improve insulin resistance in obese men -- but only half of the recipients responded. Upon further investigation, the researchers discovered that they could predict the success of the treatment by analyzing each patient's fecal gut-bacterial makeup. This understanding could help shape the development of personalized fecal transplant for diabetes. The work appears in the journal Cell Metabolism. (2017-10-03)

Visualizing life in silico
Programming a molecular biology experiment can be similar to playing Sudoku; both are simple if you're working with only a few molecules or a small grid, but explode in complexity as they grow. Now, researchers at UConn Health have made it far easier for molecular biologists to make complex biological models. (2017-10-03)

New method to measure cell stiffness could lead to improved cancer treatments
UCLA biophysicists have created a new method to rapidly determine a single cell's stiffness and size -- which could ultimately lead to improved treatments for cancer and other diseases. (2017-10-03)

Scientists create endocytosis on demand by 'hotwiring' cells
A solution to the problem of creating endocytosis on demand is being compared to 'hotwiring' a car. A team at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, has managed to trigger clathrin-mediated endocytosis in the lab. (2017-09-28)

For boys at risk of psychopathy, laughter isn't so contagious
For most people, laughter is highly contagious. It's nearly impossible to hear or see someone laughing and not feel the urge to join in. But researchers reporting in Current Biology on Sept. 28 have new evidence to show that boys at risk of developing psychopathy when they become adults don't have that same urge. (2017-09-28)

A new role for insulin as a vital factor in maintaining stem cells
When large amounts of insulin are around, stem cells retain their ability to make all the cell types in the body. However, too little insulin leads to embryonic stem cells being transformed into a new type of stem cell, one that can make tissues that support fetal development and helps make the different internal organs. (2017-09-26)

After 15 years in a vegetative state, nerve stimulation restores consciousness
A 35-year-old man who had been in a vegetative state for 15 years after a car accident has shown signs of consciousness after neurosurgeons implanted a vagus nerve stimulator into his chest. The findings reported in Current Biology on Sept. 25 show that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) -- a treatment already in use for epilepsy and depression--can help to restore consciousness even after many years in a vegetative state. (2017-09-25)

Discovering what makes organelles connect could help understand neurodegenerative diseases
Organelles must exchange signals and materials to make the cell operate correctly. New technologies are allowing researchers to see and understand the networks that connect these organelles, allowing them to build maps of the trade routes that exist within a cell. (2017-09-25)

Rainbow colors reveal cell history
Dr. Nikolay Ninov, group leader at the DFG research center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, Cluster of Excellence at the TU Dresden, and Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden, and his group developed a system called 'Beta-bow,' which allows the history of β-cells to be traced by genetic bar-coding and multicolor imaging. The results of this study are now published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. (2017-09-22)

Changing of the guard -- research sheds light on how plants breathe
New research is set to change the textbook understanding of how plants breathe. (2017-09-21)

Mitochondria drive cell survival in times of need
McGill University researchers have discovered a mechanism through which mitochondria, the energy factory of our body's cells, play a role in preventing cells from dying when the cells are deprived of nutrients - a finding that points to a potential target for next-generation cancer drugs. (2017-09-21)

DNA discovery could help shed light on rare childhood disorder
Fresh analysis of how our cells store and manage DNA when they undergo cell division could give valuable insights into a rare developmental condition known as Cornelia de Lange syndrome. (2017-09-21)

Ancient DNA data fills in thousands of years of human prehistory in Africa
By sequencing the ancient genomes of 15 individuals from different parts of Africa, researchers reporting in the journal Cell on Sept. 21 have reconstructed the prehistory of humans on the continent, going back thousands of years. The findings shed light on which human populations lived in eastern and southern Africa between 8,000 and 1,000 years ago, the researchers say. (2017-09-21)

Your neurons register familiar faces, whether you notice them or not
When people see an image of a person they recognize particular cells light up in the brain. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology have found that those cells light up even when a person sees a familiar face or object but fails to notice it. The only difference is that the neural activity is weaker and delayed in comparison to what happens when an observer consciously registers and can recall having seen a particular image. (2017-09-21)

Rolling dice for cell size specification in plant leaf epidermis
Associate Professor Kensuke Kawade at Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience and National Institute for Basic Biology, in collaboration with Professor Hirokazu Tsukaya at the Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo, discovered that endoreduplication, which promotes cellular enlargement in the epidermal tissue of Arabidopsis thaliana, occurs randomly as a Poisson process throughout cellular maturation. (2017-09-20)

New study offers novel treatment strategy for patients with colon cancer
Colorectal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. In a new study, researchers demonstrate for the first time that a previously uncharacterized protein is increased in colon cancer. The protein is immunoglobulin containing proline rich receptor-1 (IGPR-1) which was recently identified in the same laboratory as a cell adhesion molecule. (2017-09-20)

Sugary secrets of a cancer-related protein
Proteins in human cells are decorated with different types of sugars, a phenomenon called glycosylation. These modifications greatly increase the diversity of protein structure and function, affecting how proteins fold, how they behave, and where they go in cells. New research that will be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on Sept. 22 demonstrates that a rare type of glycosylation profoundly affects the function of a protein important for human development and cancer progression. (2017-09-15)

Mixing artificial sweeteners inhibits bitter taste receptors
Blends of artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and cyclamate produce less of a bitter off-taste than each of the individual components, but the explanation for this puzzling phenomenon has been elusive ever since its discovery more than 60 years ago. A study in the journal Cell Chemical Biology solves this long-standing mystery, revealing that saccharin inhibits the activity of bitter taste receptors stimulated by cyclamate and, conversely, that cyclamate reduces the off-taste elicited by saccharin. (2017-09-14)

Electric eels leap to deliver painful, Taser-like jolt
The electric eel has always been noted for its impressive ability to shock and subdue its prey. It's recently become clear that electric eels also use a clever trick to deliver an intense, Taser-like jolt to potential predators: they leap from the water to target threatening animals, humans included, above water. Now, a researcher reporting in Current Biology on Sept. 14 has measured (and experienced) just how strong that jolt can be. (2017-09-14)

Researchers discover new, abundant enzyme that helps bacteria infect animals
Researchers have discovered a new class of enzymes in hundreds of bacterial species, including some that cause disease in humans and animals. The discovery provides new insights into how bacteria invade their hosts. The research appears this week in Nature Communications. (2017-09-12)

Researchers find 'internal clock' within live human cells
A team of scientists has revealed an internal clock within live human cells, a finding that creates new opportunities for understanding the building blocks of life and the onset of disease. (2017-09-11)

Human papillomavirus 16 infections may pose variable cancer risk
Human papillomavirus 16 accounts for about half of all cervical cancers, but researchers reporting Sept. 7 in the journal Cell have found that not all infections are equal. An analysis of the HPV16 genome from 5,570 human cell and tissue samples revealed that the virus actually consists of thousands of unique genomes, such that infected women living in the same region often have different HPV16 sequences and variable risks to cancer. (2017-09-07)

Immunotherapy combination safe and 62 percent effective in metastatic melanoma patients
Immunotherapy is a promising approach in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer, In a phase 1b clinical trial with 21 patients, researchers tested the safety and efficacy of combining the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab with an oncolytic virus called T-VEC. The results suggest that this combination treatment, which had a 62 percent response rate, may work better than using either therapy on its own. The study appears in Cell. (2017-09-07)

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