Science news: 2014

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

Cholesterol in food causes inflammation in gut lining

Cholesterol in fatty foods triggers an inflammatory response in the cells lining the gut and impairs the movement of food through the gut.
23 December 2014

Using light to understand the brain

Scientists have combined two cutting-edge techniques to develop a new way to both ‘read’ and ‘write’ electrical signals in the brain, taking us a step closer to understanding how the brain stores and processes information.
23 December 2014

Fruit fly discovery provides insights into brain stem cell development

The discovery of a previously unrecognised developmental strategy to generate neurons in fruit flies is hoped to shed light on the mechanisms that occur in mammals.
15 December 2014

Research suggests ability of HIV to cause AIDS is slowing

The HIV virus is evolving to develop resistance to patients’ natural immunity, but at the same time is slowing in its ability to cause AIDS.
02 December 2014

Parasites use Trojan horse tactic

Parasites use a Trojan horse tactic to suppress the immunity of their victims – by using vesicles, or tiny sealed packages, to get genetic material into host cells undetected
25 November 2014

Scientists find first evidence of 'local' clock in the brain

A ‘local’ body clock works alongside our master circadian clock to help regulate sleep.
13 November 2014

Weight influenced by microbes in the gut

A bacterial family that is highly heritable is more common in people with low body weight.
06 November 2014

Mouse virus study may offer HIV insights

New knowledge about a mouse virus from the same family as human HIV may help researchers in their quest for new treatments for HIV/AIDS.
30 October 2014

Research reveals how lymph nodes expand during disease

The same specialised immune cells that patrol the body and spot infections also trigger the expansion of immune organs called lymph nodes.
23 October 2014

Myelin vital for learning new practical skills

Myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the brain's wiring, plays an essential role in learning and retaining new practical skills.
17 October 2014

Protein that protects against cell suicide during normal development could inspire new cancer target

A protein called Schnurri that protects some epithelial cells against cell suicide in fruit flies is also found in humans, with implications for diseases that are caused by a failure to eliminate defective cells.
09 October 2014

Researchers reveal lung cancer can stay hidden for over 20 years

Lung cancers can lie dormant for over 20 years before suddenly turning into an aggressive form of the disease.
09 October 2014

First pictures of BRCA2 protein show how it works to repair DNA

Researchers have, for the first time, taken pictures of the protein produced by the BRCA2 gene, in which mutations are known to increase breast cancer risk.
05 October 2014

Fish oils may prevent some forms of depression

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce rates of depression in people with high levels of inflammation, a group who are at high risk of depression.
03 October 2014

Study finds potential new target to treat asthma attacks brought on by colds

A potential explanation for why the common cold can bring on asthma attacks provides a possible new target for more effective asthma treatments.
02 October 2014

Long-standing question about embryo development answered

Scientists have discovered how the production of different types of nerve cell and the growth of the spinal cord are coordinated during the development of embryos.
26 September 2014

Protein 'map' could lead to potent new cancer drugs

Insights into how a disease-causing enzyme makes changes to proteins and how it can be stopped.
26 September 2014

Cockayne syndrome study alters treatment research focus

Refuting previous assumptoms, researchers have discovered that a severe genetic disorder is caused by a failure of brain cells to develop correctly.
23 September 2014

Newborns have stronger immunity than first thought

Unexpectedly, scientists have discovered that immune T cells in newborn babies may have the ability to mount a strong defence against bacteria.
21 September 2014

Gene variant that dramatically reduces ‘bad’ lipids

Researchers have identified a rare genetic variant that dramatically reduces levels of certain types of lipids in the blood.
17 September 2014

Size matters: immune cells mount different defences against pathogens based on size

Immune cells called neutrophils use large web-like structures to trap and kill large pathogens, while small pathogens are engulfed and killed using a process called phagocytosis.
14 September 2014

Study sheds light on brain cells important for memory formation

A protein crucial for stem cells to form new nerve cells in a part of the brain that produces memories may help lead to ways to stop ageing-related memory deterioration.
03 September 2014

Mapping connections in the brain to understand visual processing

Researchers have made inroads into understanding cell connections in a part of the brain called the neocortex, shedding light on how visual processing occurs in the brain.
28 August 2014

Researchers grow ‘seed’ of spinal cord tissue in a dish

Researchers have for the first time turned stem cells into the specialised cells that go on to form spinal cord, muscle and bone tissue.
26 August 2014

For polio, two vaccines are better than one

Using both live and inactivated polio vaccines could help speed the global eradication of polio.
22 August 2014

New research shows seals and sea lions likely spread tuberculosis to humans

Tuberculosis is likely to have spread from humans in Africa to seals and sea lions that brought the disease to South America.
20 August 2014

Toxic proteins implicated in frontotemporal dementia and motor neurone disease

A specific genetic mutation may damage nerve cells in frontotemporal dementia and motor neurone disease.
11 August 2014

How immune protein differentiates between own RNA and virus RNA

Understanding how an immune protein recognises separate families of RNA viruses is hoped to lead to the design of new immune drugs.
10 August 2014

Molecular gate could keep cancer cells locked up

New research uncovers the location of a ‘molecular gate’ that opens up to embrace DNA during cell division, providing a potential target for new cancer treatments.
01 August 2014

Drug-resistant malaria has spread to critical border regions of South-east Asia

Resistance to artemisinin, the world’s most effective antimalarial drug, is now widespread in South-east Asia.
31 July 2014

New ‘silent but responsive’ cells discovered in part of brain that processes smell

A ‘silent’ population of brain cells in the olfactory network – the part of the brain that processes smell information – may play a key role in engaging local brain cell networks.
27 July 2014

Mouth bacteria invade the gut in liver cirrhosis patients

New research shows that invasion of the gut by mouth bacteria could be responsible for the development of liver cirrhosis
23 July 2014

Gene variant linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and alcoholism

Two new studies involving UCL scientists show that a rare gene variant called GRM3 is linked to increased risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and alcoholism.
22 July 2014

New trigger for ovulation could make IVF safer

Scientists have successfully used an injection of the natural hormone kisspeptin, rather than hCG, to stimulate ovulation in women undergoing IVF treatment.
18 July 2014

‘Genetic messages’ between cells herald new way to tackle immune diseases

Scientists have discovered a new form of communication between cells, by sending ‘genetic messages’ in the form of small pieces of RNA.
17 July 2014

Epigenetic study bolsters understanding of Alzheimer's

Scientists have uncovered some of the strongest evidence yet that epigenetic changes in the brain play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
17 July 2014

Preventing fungal infections in blood

Scientists have uncovered a pathway that underlies natural immunity to fungal sepsis, and pinpointed a target for treatments to boost resistance in at-risk groups.
17 July 2014

Insights into development of different cell types in spinal cord

Different combinations of just a few signals control the type of cells produced in the spinal cord in a developing embryo.
15 July 2014

New asthma target offers hope of more specific treatment

Targeting a micro RNA found only in Th2 immune cells may alleviate asthma symptoms while avoiding the side effects of broad-scale steroids.
14 July 2014

‘World’s slowest Doppler effect’ found in embryo development

Long-term time-lapse microscopy has elicited surprise findings about the rhythm of body segment formation during embryo development.
11 July 2014

Protein phosphatase study brings malaria drug targets a step closer

Scientists searching for new drug and vaccine targets to stop transmission of one of malaria believe they are closer than ever to disrupting the parasite’s life cycle.
09 July 2014

Slow and fast signals in same part of brain controlled independently

Separate circuits of neurons can independently control slow and fast signals within the same part of the brain.
07 July 2014

New test predicts the risk of non-hereditary breast cancer

A simple blood test is currently in development that could help predict the likelihood of a woman developing breast cancer, even in the absence of a high-risk BRCA1 gene mutation.
27 June 2014

Blocking protein that repairs DNA damage could prevent cancers

New insights into the role of a protein involved in repairing DNA damage are hoped to lead to novel ways to prevent cancers.
26 June 2014

Hepatitis C may help transplant patients adapt to new liver

Contrary to what was previously thought, hepatitis C patients are not at greater risk of organ rejection if they undergo a liver transplant.
26 June 2014

Researchers discover the process behind bacteria's coping strategies

Crucial information on how bacteria cope under stress and evade antibiotics is hoped to pave the way for new ways to tackle infection.
20 June 2014

Leukaemia drug found to stimulate immunity against many cancer types

A class of drug currently being used to treat leukaemia has the unexpected side-effect of boosting immune responses against many different cancers.
12 June 2014

Tool belt protein links molecular ‘motor’ and ‘typewriter’ to keep DNA replication on track

Unravelling the structure of a protein complex that plays a key role in the DNA replication process.
12 June 2014

Scientists wipe out malaria-carrying mosquitoes in lab with male-only offspring

Scientists have modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males, pioneering a fresh approach to eradicating malaria.
10 June 2014

Molecular 'scaffold' could hold key to new dementia treatments

A molecular ‘scaffold’ in cells that comes apart in dementia and motor neuron disease offers a possible new target for drug discovery.
03 June 2014

New epilepsy treatment offers ‘on demand’ seizure suppression

A new epilepsy treatment combines genetic and chemical approaches to suppress seizures without disrupting normal brain function.
27 May 2014

‘Virus-fighting’ protein can increase flu severity

Type 1 interferons, which elicit a disease-fighting effect in response to most viruses, can have the opposite effect in flu.
21 May 2014

New insights into drug targets for sleeping sickness

An enzyme which allows trypanosome parasites, which cause sleeping sickness, to evade human defences is a promising new drug target.
19 May 2014

Scientists discover ‘brakes’ to stop cancer-causing ‘car crashes’ in cells

Scientists have discovered that a protein called RECQL5 appears to stop cancer by protecting DNA from snapping.
15 May 2014

Having eczema may reduce your risk of skin cancer

Researchers have discovered that defects in the skin that cause eczema could reduce the risk of developing skin cancer
06 May 2014

Structure of important malaria enzyme solved

The x-ray crystallographic structure of a key malaria parasite enzyme, SUB1. The work is hoped to help in the search for new antimalarial drugs.
02 May 2014

New genetic discovery could improve diagnosis of childhood TB

The discovery of a distinctive genetic 'signature' in the blood of children with TB offers new hope for improved diagnosis of the disease.
01 May 2014

B3 treatment for ataxia shows promise in first human trial

The first human trial of vitamin B3 has shown early promise against Friedreich’s ataxia, a debilitating degenerative disease with no treatment or cure.
01 May 2014

Discovery of anti-appetite molecule released by fibre could help tackle obesity

An anti-appetite molecule that is naturally released when we eat fibre could help in the development of methods to reduce appetite and control over-eating.
29 April 2014

Metabolism may have started in our early oceans before the origin of life

The chemical reactions behind the formation of common metabolites in modern organisms could have formed spontaneously in the earth’s early oceans.
25 April 2014

Peptide missing in narcolepsy patients plays unique role in brain

Research shows that the peptide lacking in the brains of patients with narcolepsy generates a unique signature of brain activity in healthy people.
24 April 2014

Skin layer grown in lab could replace animal testing

Scientists have developed the first lab-grown epidermis (the outermost skin layer) with a functional permeability barrier akin to real skin.
24 April 2014

First genetic link discovered to difficult-to-diagnose breast cancer sub-type

Researchers have identified the first genetic variant specifically associated with invasive lobular carcinoma - a sub-type of breast cancer that is accounts for up to 15 per cent of cases.
17 April 2014

Targeting sperm protection in mosquitoes could help combat malaria

Researchers have discovered a way of reducing the fertility of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
07 April 2014

Light-activated neurons from stem cells restore function to paralysed muscles

Researchers have developed a new way to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to paralysed muscles.
04 April 2014

New study finds strong link between obesity and ‘carb breakdown’ gene

Researchers suggest that dietary advice may need to be individually tailored, after finding that people with fewer copies of a gene coding for a carb-digesting enzyme may be at higher risk of obesity.
30 March 2014

Natural killer cell findings should help fight against diseases like leukaemia

Researchers hope that new insights into disease-fighting ‘natural killer’ (NK) cells will lead to ways to artifically generate a greater number of the cells to treat leukaemia and other cancers.
24 March 2014

Helping protein machines in cells form correct 3D structures

A collaboration between the NIMR and LRI sheds light on a molecular ‘chaperone’ that helps multi-protein machines in cells to form the correct three-dimensional shapes.
20 March 2014

Statins slow the progression of advanced multiple sclerosis in clinical trial

Statins may slow the progression of of multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological condition for which there are currently no treatments that slow the advanced stage of the disease.
19 March 2014

Astronomy and Life Sciences hand in hand

One of the strategies of the Francis Crick Institute is to collaborate creatively, taking a multi- and inter-disciplinary approach. Some recent work that has been facilitated by the Crick ICT team and the astronomy and physics groups at UCL and Durham Universities shows how this is can work in action.
10 March 2014

Spread of antibiotic resistance understood by unravelling bacterial secretion system

Crucial insights into the mechanism that allows the sharing of genetic information, including genes for antibiotic resistance, between bacteria.
10 March 2014

Tracking evolution of ‘mouse HIV’ virus back to dinosaurs

Studying the evolution of retroviruses has given scientists insights into the current human pandemic caused by HIV, a member of the retrovirus family.
06 March 2014

New kind of scan finds cancer's sleeper cells

A new non-invasive imaging technique can detect dormant cancer cells, warning patients and doctors of a potential relapse.
03 March 2014

Malaria maps reveal that 184 million Africans still live in extremely high-risk areas

A series of prevalence maps for malaria show reductions in disease transmission in 40 African countries between 2000 and 2010.
21 February 2014

Amino acid plays key roles in TB nutrient acquisition and evasion of host defences

The amino acid asparagine plays two separate critical roles in providing nutrition and evading host defences in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
20 February 2014

Promising new treatment for respiratory syndrome

Results from a phase II clinical trial show that a new drug to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome could reduce mortality by as much as 80 per cent.
14 February 2014

New target for psoriasis treatment discovered

A new gene could be an effective target for new treatments for psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes dry, red, sore and itchy lesions on the skin.
13 February 2014

Smoking impairs blood vessel repair

Smokers are less able to repair damage to blood vessels because stem cells in their blood age more quickly, shedding light on why tobacco use is linked to heart and circulatory disease.
13 February 2014

Immunotherapy treatment hope for acute myeloid leukaemia

Using immune cells engineered to target a protein found only on the surface of leukaemia cells – called CD123 – could offer new hope for treating patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
07 February 2014

Chopping kidney cancers down at their ‘trunk’ could lead to new treatments

A study of kidney cancer has allowed scientists at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute to map the evolutionary paths tumours take
02 February 2014

‘Genome doubling’ linked to worse prognosis in colorectal cancer

Research shows that the presence of cells with an extra copy of their whole genome is linked to a worse colorectal cancer prognosis.
01 February 2014

Vibrations influence the circadian clock of a fruit fly

A Drosophila fruit fly’s own movements can synchronise its circadian rhythm, according to research which has implications for treating circadian clock related diseases, such as insomnia and depression.
31 January 2014

Heart attack survival far lower in UK than Sweden

UK heart attack patients are far less likely to survive than their counterparts in Sweden, due to slower uptake of new technologies and treatments.
23 January 2014

Promising first results in gene therapy trial for inherited blindness

The first clinical trial of gene therapy for an inherited cause of progressive blindness shows that the therapy can be delivered without damaging the retina.
16 January 2014

Novel approach could prevent infection in patients with liver failure

Inhibiting a protein found in saliva may reduce infection, the most common cause of death, in patients with acute liver failure.
10 January 2014

New clues to how bacteria evade antibiotics

Scientists have made an important advance in understanding how a subset of bacterial cells escape being killed by many antibiotics.
09 January 2014

Infection can cause temporary loss of immunity to other diseases

Immunity following vaccination can be temporarily lost due to another infection, but replenished over time by immune cells called memory B cells.
02 January 2014

Surprising immune cell discovery may have cancer implications

The discovery of a new subset of T lymphocyte immune cells that can respond more quickly to immune threats may have implications for the treatment of cancer and immune disorders.
01 January 2014