Science news: 2013

Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

Fruit fly research turns established dogma on its head

A widely accepted notion about an important signalling protein that determines patterning and growth during embryonic development has been refuted by new research.
25 December 2013

Malaria drug target raises hopes for new treatments

A new study that has found a way to stop the malaria parasite from multiplying is hoped to lead to much needed new treatments for the disease.
22 December 2013

Enzyme structure discovery heralds new drugs for obesity and diabetes

The discovery of a binding site for drugs that activate a key metabolic enzyme is expected to enable the design of treatments for conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
19 December 2013

Novel genetic mutations discovered that cause neuromuscular disease in children

Mutations in a gene involved in maintaining correct calcium levels in mitochondria have been found to cause neurological and muscular disease in children.
17 December 2013

HIV virus uses ‘accessory proteins’ to turn host cell on itself

Research showing how ‘accessory proteins’ carried by the HIV virus make a host cell disable its own anti-viral defences may lead to a completely new way to treat HIV/AIDS.
15 December 2013

New drug target stems from malaria enzyme discovery

An enzyme involved in the blood stage of malaria has been found to also be crucial to the liver stage of infection.
12 December 2013

Skin's own cells offer new hope for skin repair

Important inroads into understanding how the skin repairs itself, with implications for ageing and for improving treatments for skin injuries.
12 December 2013

5-ALA amino acid and iron combo point to revolutionary new anti-malaria drug

Researchers have shown how the amino acid 5-aminolevulinic acid and iron prevent malaria, in findings that are expected to lead to the development of new preventative drugs.
01 December 2013

Enzyme target identified for experimental antimalarial drugs

An enzyme called PI4K that is vital for the growth and development of many of the parasite species that cause malaria has been identified as the target of a new class of experimental drugs.
28 November 2013

Gene mutation can cause excessive alcohol drinking

The discovery of a gene that regulates alcohol consumption and, when faulty, can cause excessive drinking in mice.
26 November 2013

Treating risk factors could cut obesity-related risk of heart disease and stroke

Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke associated with being overweight or obese.
22 November 2013

Different gene expression in male and female brains helps explain differences in brain disorders

Widespread differences in how genes are expressed in male and female brains may help to explain differences in susceptibility to brain diseases among men and women
22 November 2013

TB bacteria missing genetic signposts for proteins during latent infection

The discovery of an unusual process for the translation of genes into proteins for TB bacteria during latent infection may help in search for new antibiotics.
21 November 2013

Protein essential for blood stem cells may lead to new leukaemia target

A protein called HIF-2alpha is crucial to the survival of haematopoetic stem cells and may lead to a new target for leukaemia treatment.
07 November 2013

Discovery of HIV 'invisibility cloak' reveals new treatment opportunities

A molecular ‘invisibility cloak’ allows the HIV virus to hide inside cells without triggering an immune response. An experimental drug used to ‘uncloak’ the virus and may lead to improved treatments for HIV and AIDS.
07 November 2013

IVF conception not linked to increased childhood cancer risk

Children conceived using IVF and similar techniques has found no increased risk of childhood cancers compared with babies conceived naturally.
06 November 2013

World first pre-eclampsia test could save hundreds of babies

A new rapid blood test can accurately diagnose pre-eclampsia, a severe type of high blood pressure in pregnancy that is potentially fatal for the mother and baby.
04 November 2013

Protein called aPKCι offers potential target for some aggressive cancers

Atypical protein kinase C iota levels that are too high or too low can disturb cell polarity and cause cancer, and altering its levels may offer a new strategy for targeting relevant cancers.
25 October 2013

Molecular insights into the ubiquitin system and its association with human diseases

Molecular insights into how ubiquitin plays a role in human disease are hoped to lead to the development of new drugs.
20 October 2013

Bedside sepsis diagnosis could save thousands

A newly discovered biomarker for sepsis, or blood poisoning, has the potential to save thousands of lives worldwide every year by enabling diagnosis within two hours.
17 October 2013

‘DNA tags’ could guide treatment for advanced ovarian cancer

Chemical ‘tags’ on ovarian cancer tumours that could help doctors decide on treatment for women with advanced disease.
15 October 2013

New role for DNA unraveler in preventing brain tumours and other cancers

A molecule previously implicated in DNA repair may play a crucial role in preventing some types of cancer.
10 October 2013

Gene variant linked to prognosis in inflammatory diseases

A gene linked to inflammation that is associated with long-term outcome in patients with Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis could provide new treatment targets.
04 October 2013

Mutated stem cells trigger pituitary tumours in children

A type of pituitary tumour that affects children is formed in a different way than more common tumours, according to new research that is hoped to lead to new treatments.
04 October 2013

Adult pituitary stem cells can generate new hormone-secreting endocrine cells when needed

Researchers have characterised pituitary stem cells in live mice, which could one day be used to treat pituitary hormone deficiencies such as growth hormone deficiency.
03 October 2013

Discovery of nitrogen source for TB bacteria may lead to new drug targets

MRC scientists have discovered how the bacterium that causes tuberculosis takes up nitrogen, which is a crucial nutrient.
29 September 2013

Scientists closer to universal flu vaccine after pandemic "natural experiment"

Imperial College London researchers are closer to developing a universal flu vaccine after studying why some people in the 2009 pandemic seemed to resist severe illness.
22 September 2013

Embryo insights pave way for muscle and spinal cord stem cell therapies

Frog embryo research explains how muscle and spinal cord are formed from stem cells, opening up possible avenues for the development of stem cell-based treatments.
19 September 2013

Novel gene discovery could lead to new HIV treatments

Scientists have identified a gene that may have the ability to prevent the HIV virus from spreading after it enters the body.
18 September 2013

Chronic inflammation of blood vessels could help explain high childhood mortality in malaria regions

Recurrent episodes of malaria in Malawian children cause chronic inflammation in blood vessels that might predispose people to future infections and may increase susceptibility to cardiovascular disease.
17 September 2013

Tumours can mechanically alter growth of neighbouring tissues

Patches of tissue that grow faster than their neighbours, such as cancer, can stretch the neighbouring cells and affect their growth.
10 September 2013

Bone marrow and stem cell insights to improve cancer treatment

New knowledge about haematopoietic stem cells hoped to lead to more targeted and less toxic leukaemia and bone cancer drugs.
05 September 2013

Scientists find new gene linked to ovarian cancer

The discovery of a gene linked to ovarian cancer could lead to a new way to screen for women who are at increased risk of developing the cancer.
04 September 2013

Psychological effects of genetic testing for risk of weight gain

Testing for a gene associated with obesity risk does not put people off weight loss and may help to reduce self-blame.
04 September 2013

70,000 years of TB infection and evolution

TB infected early humans 70,000 years ago and has evolved with humans to adapt to changing populations, according to new research.
01 September 2013

Gastric bypass surgery changes the brain's response to food

Gastric bypass surgery changes how the brain responds to food, reducing not only hunger but also the drive to eat for pleasure.
21 August 2013

Scars in cancer cell DNA are ‘smoking gun’ of disease development

Wellcome Trust scientists have created a map of the ‘scars’ left on the DNA of cancer cells by genetic mutations, which is hoped to lead to new ways to treat and prevent the cancers.
15 August 2013

Heart's own stem cells offer hope for new treatment of heart failure

A group of stem cells found in the heart are responsible for repairing and regenerating tissue damaged by heart attacks that leads to heart failure.
15 August 2013

New treatment may work with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida

A new treatment could work alongside folic acid to further reduce the incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida developing in early pregnancy.
08 August 2013

DNA replication mystery solved

Scientists have solved a 30-year puzzle surrounding the regulation of DNA replication in frog embryos.
01 August 2013

Scientists transplant photoreceptors from retina grown ‘in a dish’

UCL scientists have carried out the first successful transplant of light-sensitive photoreceptor cells extracted from a synthetic retina.
21 July 2013

Knockout mouse resource reveals genes and pathways linked to human disease

The Mouse Genetics Project is a new resource that will reveal which genes are important for a wide range of biological functions such as fertility and hearing.
19 July 2013

Researchers reveal how 'obesity gene' triggers weight gain

A new study shows why people with a variation of the FTO gene (known as the ‘obesity gene’) are 70 per cent more likely to become obese.
16 July 2013

DNA flaws may contribute to cancer risk in people with type 2 diabetes

A type of genetic abnormality linked to cancer is more common in people with type 2 diabetes than the rest of the population.
14 July 2013

Ethnic differences in immune response to TB bacterium

Scientists have discovered that there are ethnic differences in the immune response to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB).
04 July 2013

Discovery of new metabolic pathway offers TB treatment hope

Scientists have identified a new enzyme and related metabolic pathway in the bacterium that causes human TB, opening up the possibility of new treatment targets.
25 June 2013

Rare pregnancy condition programmes babies to become overweight

Babies born to mothers who suffer from a rare metabolic complication during pregnancy are programmed to be overweight.
24 June 2013

Stopping the spread of cancer cells through the body

Cancer cells use different mechanisms to spread in the body depending on their environment and different drugs are needed to stop the different types of movement.
23 June 2013

Genetic roots of migraine uncovered

The discovery of five genetic regions linked to the onset of migraine is an important step forward in understanding the cause and biological triggers underlying this debilitating disorder.
23 June 2013

H7N9 bird flu virus prefers to infect birds to humans

The current H7N9 bird flu virus circulating in China has not acquired a preference for human hosts over birds.
20 June 2013

'Chase and run' cell movement mechanism explains metastasis

Understanding how cancer cells interact with healthy cells to migrate and spread around the body, causing tumours at secondary sites.
16 June 2013

The role of the spleen in fighting malaria

Increased production in the spleen of myeloid cells, which are the precursors to some types of blood cell and are usually produced in the bone marrow, helps to combat malaria.
06 June 2013

Targeted drug delivery could be transformed by microbubble technology

Scientists have found a way to illuminate tiny bubbles which are used to track blood flow with medical imaging.
04 June 2013

Selective inhibitor of known cancer-associated protein found

The discovery of the first effective chemical inhibitor of a known cancer-causing protein without affecting closely related proteins from the same family.
31 May 2013

Mosquito transmission plays key role in malaria severity

Transmission of the malaria parasite via the mosquito regulates its ability to cause disease and therefore affects the severity of the disease.
29 May 2013

Targeting the non-cancerous cells in cancer tumours

Scientists have found out more about some of the non-cancerous cells that make up tumours, which may open up new avenues for cancer treatment.
26 May 2013

Promising new target for melanoma treatment

Researchers studying a molecular pathway that’s implicated in cancer have discovered a promising new treatment target for certain types of cancer, particularly melanomas.
23 May 2013

Premature birth interrupts brain development

Imaging technique shows premature birth interrupts vital brain development processes, leading to reduced cognitive abilities in infants.
21 May 2013

Estimates reveal low population immunity to new bird flu virus H7N9 in humans

The first population-level study to examine human immunity to the H7N9 bird flu virus has found a very low level of immunity in both rural and urban populations in Vietnam.
21 May 2013

Receptor proteins could hold clues to antibiotic resistance in MRSA

The discovery of four new proteins that act as receptors for an essential signalling molecule in bacteria such as MRSA, which is hoped to provide clues in the hunt for new antibiotics.
13 May 2013

Insights into malaria release from host cells may lead to new treatment approaches

Scientists have identified components of a signalling pathway that leads to release of the malaria parasite from infected human red blood cells, which may lead to new approaches to treating malaria.
09 May 2013

Early predictors of disease progression in Huntington's disease

A set of tests could help identify whether Huntington’s disease is progressing in people who are not yet showing symptoms, and could be used to assess whether potential treatments are slowing the disease.
09 May 2013

Flu virus breakthrough without studying infectious material

New research means that it is now possible to predict the strength with which flu viruses bind to host cells without the need to work with infectious material.
24 April 2013

Epigenetic changes shed light on biological mechanism of autism

In the largest study of it’s kind, King’s College London Researchers have identified patterns of epigenetic changes involved in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
23 April 2013

Search for new antibiotics advanced by discovery of key processes within bacterial protein

Scientists have discovered how bacteria transport the tiny hair-like strands, called pili, which cover their outer surface from the inside of the cell, where they are assembled, to the exterior.
11 April 2013

Stem cells enable personalised treatment for bleeding disorder

A study of blood stem cells has shed light on a common bleeding disorder and may enable personalised treatment in the future.
05 April 2013

Study reveals ‘evolutionary glitch’ as possible cause of common childhood ear infections

Researchers have uncovered how the human ear is formed, giving clues as to why children are susceptible to infections such as glue ear.
22 March 2013

Surprising insight into survival of immune B cells

The survival of B cells, a vital part of our immune system, depends on signals between two proteins on their surface that were previously thought to work independently.
21 March 2013

Mutations in VCP gene implicated in a number of neurodegenerative diseases

It’s rare for single mutations in one gene to cause different diseases but UCL researchers have shown that this is precisely what happens when mutations occur in a gene called VCP, resulting in several different neurodegenerative diseases.
14 March 2013

New role for immune cells in our gut

The discovery of a new role for immune cells called Th17 cells in our intestines – helping to recruit antibodies to fight infections and toxins.
11 March 2013

Old genes with a new role in controlling gut muscle contractions

The discovery of two genes that play an important role in development of the nerve cell networks that control the function of the gut.
08 March 2013

Oestrogen patches could offer treatment option for prostate cancer

Trial suggests patches giving oestrogen through the skin could be an easy and safe alternative to hormone therapies for prostate cancer.
04 March 2013

Bowel cancers reshuffle chromosomes to cheat treatment

Bowel cancer cells missing one of three genes can rapidly reshuffle their chromosomes, potentially rendering the tumours more resistant to treatment.
28 February 2013

Psychogenic diseases linked to abnormal brain activity

Scientists have found that individuals with psychogenic diseases (physical illnesses that stem from emotional or mental stresses) have brains that function differently to people with organic diseases.
25 February 2013

Injection-free vaccination

Injection-free vaccination technique could address global vaccine challenge for diseases such as HIV and malaria.
19 February 2013

Minimally invasive test provides best alternative to colonoscopy

A new minimally invasive test may offer the best alternative to colonoscopy to diagnose bowel cancer.
14 February 2013

Forming the ‘right’ type of neurons in the brain

The type of nerve cells formed in the brain and spinal cord are determined by levels of a signalling protein called Ascl1.
14 February 2013

Genes for autism and schizophrenia only active in developing brains

Genes linked to autism and schizophrenia are switched on during brain development, according to a collaboration between Imperial, King's and Oxford.
11 February 2013

24 new genes for short-sightedness identified

A worldwide collaboration has found 24 new genes that cause short-sightedness.
10 February 2013

Novel treatment for common childhood viral infection

Scientists have found a new way to treat Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) – a common disease that infects two thirds of babies in their first year.
04 February 2013

Missing link in cell division discovered

The discovery of a molecular link between the cell’s internal skeleton and the cell envelope that enables the final step in cell division to happen.
18 January 2013