Tag Archives: biomarkers

If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?

Most of what scientists know of Jupiter’s moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s. Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life. But what if we got to land on Europa’s surface and conduct something along the lines of a more in-depth interview? What would scientists ask? A new study in the journal Astrobiology authored by a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out their consensus on the most important questions to address.

“If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry,” said Robert Pappalardo, the study’s lead author, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations. Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life.” (more…)

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Tenfold boost in ability to pinpoint proteins in cancer cells

Better diagnosis and treatment of cancer could hinge on the ability to better understand a single cell at its molecular level. New research offers a more comprehensive way of analyzing one cell’s unique behavior, using an array of colors to show patterns that could indicate why a cell will or won’t become cancerous.

A University of Washington team has developed a new method for color-coding cells that allows them to illuminate 100 biomarkers, a ten-time increase from the current research standard, to help analyze individual cells from cultures or tissue biopsies. The work is published this week (March 19) in Nature Communications. (more…)

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Ancient Fossilized Sea Creatures Yield Oldest Biomolecules Isolated Directly from a Fossil

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Though scientists have long believed that complex organic molecules couldn’t survive fossilization, some 350-million-year-old remains of aquatic sea creatures uncovered in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa have challenged that assumption.

The spindly animals with feathery arms—called crinoids, but better known today by the plant-like name “sea lily”—appear to have been buried alive in storms during the Carboniferous Period, when North America was covered with vast inland seas. Buried quickly and isolated from the water above by layers of fine-grained sediment, their porous skeletons gradually filled with minerals, but some of the pores containing organic molecules were sealed intact. (more…)

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Cancer Genes Differ in Different Parts of a Tumour

Taking a sample from just one part of a tumour may not give a full picture of its‘genetic landscape’, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings could help explain why attempts at using single biopsies to identify biomarkers to which personalised cancer treatments can be targeted have not been more successful. (more…)

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They Know The Drool

*The search for biomarkers of disease in spit*

It’s a researcher’s dream: a simple, noninvasive test to detect life-threatening cancer, heart disease, or other maladies while they’re still treatable.

A team of University of Minnesota researchers is in hot pursuit of that goal, using one of the simplest means imaginable: testing spit. They’ve discovered that conditions such as breast and oral cancer leak certain proteins into saliva, and if detected, such proteins can be “biomarkers” for the disease. (more…)

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Gut Microbe Networks Differ From Norm in Obese People, Systems Biology Approach Reveals

For the first time, researchers have analyzed the multitude of microorganisms residing in the human gut as a complex, integrated biological system, rather than a set of separate species. Their approach has revealed patterns that correspond with excess body weight.

The senior author of the paper, Elhanan Borenstein, assistant professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington, said, “Our research introduces a novel framework, applying systems biology and in-silico (computer) modeling to study the human microbiome – the complex ensemble of microorganisms that populate the human body – as a single cohesive system.” (more…)

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Researchers Study Toenails as Marker for Arsenic Exposure

*UA scientists have teamed up to study the relationship between arsenic in human toenails and arsenic concentration in drinking water. Exposure to arsenic is associated with several chronic diseases ranging from dermatitis to various cancers.*

Scientists from the University of Arizona specializing in environmental health sciences and pharmacology and toxicology have teamed up with the help of a seed grant to study the relationship between arsenic in human toenails and arsenic concentration in drinking water.

Arsenic exposure in Arizona is a concern because of naturally occurring contamination of groundwater, said Miranda Loh, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. (more…)

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UF Researchers Suspect Bacterial Changes in Mouth Promote Oral Disease in People With HIV

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Oral disease occurs commonly and progresses rapidly among people who have HIV, but the process is poorly understood. Researchers suspect that the culprit is a change in the makeup of bacterial communities that live in the mouth.

Through a one-year grant of almost $330,000 from the National Institutes of Health, researchers at the University of Florida are trying to find out the role of various pathogens in the progression of oral disease among people infected with HIV. (more…)

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