blog postsTeam deciphers how myotonic dystrophy generates lethal heart dysfunctionsFeb 27, 2020 9:00 am129 views Roughly 80% of people with myotonic dystrophy – a common form of muscular dystrophy – experience dangerous heart ailments, and heart rhythm defects are the second-leading cause of death in those with the condition. In a new study, researchers traced the molecular events that lead to heart abnormalities in myotonic dystrophy and recreated the disease in a mouse model. Camera-trap study captures Sumatran tigers, clouded leopards, other rare beastsFeb 24, 2020 8:15 am955 views Scientists deployed motion-sensitive camera traps across a 50-square-mile swath of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra and, over the course of eight years, recorded the haunts and habits of dozens of species, including the Sumatran tiger and other rare and endangered wildlife. Their observations offer insight into how abundant these species are and show how smaller creatures avoid being eaten by tigers and other carnivores.New CRISPR base-editing technology slows ALS progression in miceFeb 21, 2020 10:15 am1840 views A new CRISPR gene-editing method can inactivate one of the genes responsible for an inherited form of ALS, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report in a new study. The novel treatment slowed disease progression, improved muscle function and extended lifespan in mice with an aggressive form of ALS.Insect Fear Film Festival examines insects' close relatives: crustaceansFeb 18, 2020 11:45 am560 views The 2020 Insect Fear Film Festival will feature crustaceans, which share a common ancestor with insects.Some bariatric surgery patients don't sense heightened blood alcohol levelsFeb 13, 2020 1:15 pm1042 views A study of 55 women found that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy weight-loss surgeries may dramatically change patients’ sensitivity to and absorption of alcohol.Hybrid microscope could bring digital biopsy to the clinicFeb 5, 2020 10:30 am1077 views By adding infrared capability to the ubiquitous, standard optical microscope, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hope to bring cancer diagnosis into the digital era.Focus on context diminishes memory of negative events, researchers reportFeb 5, 2020 8:45 am669 views In a new study, researchers report they can manipulate how the brain encodes and retains emotional memories. The scientists found that focusing on the neutral details of a disturbing scene can weaken a person’s later memories – and negative impressions – of that scene.Team creates game-based virtual archaeology field schoolJan 29, 2020 8:00 am1587 views Before they can get started at their field site – a giant cave studded with stalactites, stalagmites and human artifacts – 15 undergraduate students must figure out how to use their virtual hands and tools. They also must learn to teleport. This is ANTH 399, a course designed to bring the archaeological field school experience to undergraduate students who never leave campus.New compounds block master regulator of cancer growth, metastasisJan 7, 2020 8:00 am5014 views Scientists have developed new drug compounds that thwart the pro-cancer activity of FOXM1, a transcription factor that regulates the activity of dozens of genes. The new compounds suppress tumor growth in human cells and in mouse models of several types of human breast cancer.For CRISPR, tweaking DNA fragments before inserting yields highest efficiency rates yetDec 23, 2019 10:00 am2141 views University of Illinois researchers achieved the highest reported rates of inserting genes into human cells with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system, a necessary step for harnessing CRISPR for clinical gene-therapy applications. By chemically tweaking the ends of the DNA to be inserted, the new technique is up to five times more efficient than current approaches. The researchers saw improvements at various genetic locations tested in a human kidney cell line, even seeing 65% insertion at one site where the previous high had been 15%.Single-molecule detection of cancer markers brings liquid biopsy closer to clinicDec 18, 2019 11:00 am1075 views A fast, inexpensive yet sensitive technique to detect cancer markers is bringing researchers closer to a “liquid biopsy” – a test using a small sample of blood or serum to detect cancer, rather than the invasive tissue sampling routinely used for diagnosis. Researchers at the University of Illinois developed a method to capture and count cancer-associated microRNAs, or tiny bits of messenger molecules that are exuded from cells and can be detected in blood or serum, with single-molecule resolution.Nanopores can identify the amino acids in proteins, the first step to sequencingDec 17, 2019 10:00 am1255 views A new study demonstrates that nanopores can be used to identify all 20 amino acids in proteins, a major step toward protein sequencing.Study: Healthy diet may avert nutritional problems in head, neck cancer patientsDec 16, 2019 9:45 am1797 views Head and neck cancer patients who eat a healthy diet prior to treatment may be less likely to have nutrition impact symptoms up to a year after diagnosis, according to a recent study led by U. of I. researchers.Experts review evidence yoga is good for the brainDec 12, 2019 9:00 am6261 views Scientists have known for decades that aerobic exercise strengthens the brain and contributes to the growth of new neurons, but few studies have examined how yoga affects the brain. A review of the science finds evidence that yoga enhances many of the same brain structures and functions that benefit from aerobic exercise.Team finds bovine kobuvirus in USDec 12, 2019 8:00 am1808 views A virus that afflicts cattle that was first discovered in Japan in 2003 has made its way to the U.S., researchers report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.By imaging the brain, scientists can predict a person's aptitude for trainingDec 4, 2019 8:00 am675 views People with specific brain attributes are more likely than others to benefit from targeted cognitive interventions designed to enhance fluid intelligence, scientists report in a new study. Fluid intelligence is a measure of one’s ability to adapt to new situations and solve never-before-seen problems.Structurally designed 'DNA star' creates ultrasensitive test for dengue virusNov 26, 2019 10:30 am713 views By folding snippets of DNA into the shape of a five-pointed star, researchers have created a trap that captures dengue virus as it floats in the bloodstream.Eight Illinois faculty members elected AAAS FellowsNov 26, 2019 10:00 am4283 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Eight professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2019 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.A little prairie can rescue honey bees from famine on the farm, study findsNov 25, 2019 2:00 pm1247 views Scientists placed honey bee hives next to soybean fields in Iowa and tracked how the bees fared over the growing season. To the researchers’ surprise, the bees did well for much of the summer. The colonies thrived and gained weight, building up their honey stores. But in August, the trend reversed. By mid-October, most of the honey was gone and the overwintering brood was malnourished, the team discovered.Study tracks genomic changes that reinforce darter speciationNov 22, 2019 12:30 pm267 views When they share habitat, orangethroat and rainbow darters tend to avoid one another, even though they are closely related and can produce “hybrid” offspring. The males compete with males of their own species and will almost always ignore females of the other species. A new study offers an analysis of the genomic changes that occur when these fish hybridize, offering insight into the gradual accumulation of incompatible traits that likely drives them to diverge.Structures near airports increase risk of airplane-goose collisionsNov 21, 2019 8:00 am663 views From mid-November 2015 through February 2016, scientists used GPS transmitters to track the movements of Canada geese near Midway International Airport in Chicago. They discovered that – in the colder months, at least – some geese are hanging out on rooftops, in a rail yard and in a canal close to Midway’s runways. This behavior increases the danger of collisions between geese and airplanes, the researchers say.Dozens of potential new antibiotics discovered with free online appNov 18, 2019 10:00 am1097 views A new web tool speeds the discovery of drugs to kill Gram-negative bacteria, which are responsible for the vast majority of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths. The tool also offers insights into discrete chemical changes that can convert drugs that kill other bacteria into drugs to fight Gram-negative infections. The team proved the system works by modifying a Gram-positive drug and testing it against three different Gram-negative bacterial culprits in mouse sepsis. The drug was successful against each.Simulation reveals how bacterial organelle converts sunlight to chemical energyNov 14, 2019 11:00 am1494 views Scientists have simulated every atom of a light-harvesting structure in a photosynthetic bacterium that generates energy for the organism. The simulated organelle behaves just like its counterpart in nature, the researchers report. The work is a major step toward understanding how some biological structures convert sunlight into chemical energy, a biological innovation that is essential to life.Artificial intelligence to run the chemical factories of the futureNov 13, 2019 7:30 am1131 views A new proof-of-concept study details how an automated system driven by artificial intelligence can design, build, test and learn complex biochemical pathways to efficiently produce lycopene, a red pigment found in tomatoes and commonly used as a food coloring, opening the door to a wide range of biosynthetic applications, researchers report. New approach uses light to stabilize proteins for studyNov 4, 2019 8:15 am1227 views Researchers have developed a new technique that uses light to control the lifetime of a protein inside the cell. This method will allow scientists to better observe how specific proteins contribute to health, development and disease.Online tool speeds response to elephant poaching by tracing ivory to sourceNov 1, 2019 5:00 am807 views A new tool uses an interactive database of geographic and genetic information to help authorities quickly identify where the confiscated tusks of African elephants were originally poached.Severe drought shuts down reproduction in copperhead snakes, study findsOct 29, 2019 4:00 am1105 views A long-term study of copperhead snakes in a forest near Meriden, Connecticut, revealed that five consecutive years of drought effectively ended the snakes' reproductive output. Drinking more water improves multitasking ability in children, study findsOct 28, 2019 9:30 am1830 views Drinking water not only keeps children hydrated, but also increases their ability to multitask, suggests a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois and their collaborators.Study tracks evolutionary history of metabolic networksOct 28, 2019 7:00 am448 views By analyzing how metabolic enzymes are built and organized, researchers have reconstructed the evolutionary history of metabolism. Their study shows how metabolic networks – which drive every cellular process from protein building to DNA repair – became less random, more modular and more hierarchical over time, the researchers say.Fire-spawned forest fungi hide out in other organisms, study findsOct 25, 2019 8:15 am579 views When a wildfire obliterates a forest, the first life to rise from the ashes is usually a fungus – one of several species that cannot complete its life cycle in the absence of fire. Scientists have long argued about where and how such pyrophilous (fire-loving) fungi survive, sometimes for decades, between fires. A new study finds that some of these fungi hide out in the tissues of mosses and lichens.Potato as effective as carbohydrate gels for boosting athletic performance, study findsOct 18, 2019 11:45 am11915 views Consuming potato puree during prolonged exercise works just as well as a commercial carbohydrate gel in sustaining blood glucose levels and boosting performance in trained athletes, scientists report.Prescribing oral opioids for dogs likely doesn’t help them, veterinary experts sayOct 14, 2019 7:45 am4015 views Sending ailing dogs home with oral opioids may not be an effective way to manage their pain, experts report in a free, online continuing education program recently developed for veterinarians. In light of growing evidence that such drugs don’t work well in dogs – added to the fact that humans sometimes abuse opioids prescribed for pets – the common practice of prescribing oral opioids for dogs in pain should be reexamined, the experts say. Anticipating the need among opioid prescribers for additional training to meet regulatory mandates, these experts created an online continuing education program that addresses the problem. The training includes cautions about unwarranted prescription of oral opioids and advice on effective pain management for veterinary patients. Researchers repurpose failed cancer drug into printable semiconductorOct 2, 2019 9:30 am1247 views Many potential pharmaceuticals end up failing during clinical trials, but thanks to new research from the University of Illinois, biological molecules once considered for cancer treatment are now being repurposed as organic semiconductors for use in chemical sensors and transistors.Study finds rising ozone a hidden threat to cornOct 1, 2019 6:00 am1533 views Like atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide, ground-level ozone is on the rise. But ozone, a noxious chemical byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, has received relatively little attention as a potential threat to corn agriculture. A new study begins to address this lapse by exposing a genetically diverse group of corn plants in the field to future ozone levels. The study found that some members of the corn family tree are more susceptible than others to yield losses under high ozone air pollution.Purple martin migration behavior perplexes researchersSep 30, 2019 8:00 am1509 views Purple martins will soon migrate south for their usual wintertime retreat, but this time the birds will be wearing what look like little backpacks, as scientists plan to track their roosting sites along the way. The researchers recently discovered that purple martins are roosting in small forest patches as they migrate from North America to Brazil, an unexpected behavior. The scientists published their findings in the Journal of Field Ornithology. How are Illinois birds faring?Sep 24, 2019 8:00 am2223 views According to a new study reported in the journal Science, bird populations in North America have experienced a troubling decline in the past five decades. The scientists estimate the continent has lost close to 3 billion birds, roughly 29% of their total numbers in 1970. Senior wildlife ecologist Thomas J. Benson of the Illinois Natural History Survey discusses the status of birds in Illinois with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates. Benson leads the Critical Trends Assessment Program, which monitors the biological condition of the state’s forests, wetlands and grasslands, and collects data on plants, birds and arthropods.Researchers build microscopic biohybrid robots propelled by muscles, nervesSep 16, 2019 2:00 pm5044 views Researchers have developed soft robotic devices driven by neuromuscular tissue that triggers when stimulated by light – bringing mechanical engineering one step closer to developing autonomous biobots.Five professors named University Scholars for Urbana-Champaign campusSep 12, 2019 10:45 am3214 views Five Urbana-Champaign campus professors have been named University Scholars in recognition of their excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.Research tracks narcissism from young adulthood to middle ageSep 11, 2019 8:15 am1136 views The belief that one is smarter, better looking, more successful and more deserving than others – a personality trait known as narcissism – tends to wane as a person matures, a new study confirms. But not for everyone, and not to the same extent.Tiny thermometer measures how mitochondria heat up the cell by unleashing proton energyAug 29, 2019 12:45 pm1777 views Armed with a tiny new thermometer probe that can quickly measure temperature inside of a cell, University of Illinois researchers have illuminated a mysterious aspect of metabolism: heat generation.New technique gives polyurethane waste a second lifeAug 26, 2019 4:00 am869 views Polyurethane is used in a wide range of materials, including paints, foam mattresses, seat cushions and insulation. These diverse applications generate large amounts of waste. A team at the University of Illinois has developed a method to break down polyurethane waste and turn it into other useful products.Indigenous scholars confront the power, limitations of genomicsAug 20, 2019 8:30 am986 views They traveled to central Illinois from Manitoba, Mexico City, Nova Scotia and 18 U.S. states, bringing expertise in a variety of fields, including anthropology, biomedical engineering, ethics, health and environmental policy, law, neurobiology, and social and behavioral science. Participants in the 2019 Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics spent a week together in the classroom and the lab, learning not only how to amplify and sequence a fragment of their own DNA, but also discussing the implications of genomics research involving their ancestors and communities.Dog down: Effort helps emergency medical staff treat law enforcement K-9sAug 19, 2019 9:00 am1286 views Recognizing a gap in care for law enforcement K-9s injured on the job, a team of veterinarians, emergency medical services experts and canine handlers has developed protocols for emergency medical service personnel who may be called upon to help treat and transport the injured dogs.Researchers embrace imperfection to improve biomolecule transportAug 5, 2019 10:00 am817 views While watching the production of porous membranes used for DNA sorting and sequencing, University of Illinois researchers wondered how tiny steplike defects formed during fabrication could be used to improve molecule transport. They found that the defects – formed by overlapping layers of membrane – make a big difference in how molecules move along a membrane surface. Instead of trying to fix these flaws, the team set out to use them to help direct molecules into the membrane pores.Infants expect leaders to right wrongs, study findsJul 29, 2019 2:00 pm984 views Infants 17 months of age expect leaders – but not others – to intervene when one member of their group transgresses against another, a new study reveals. The findings add to growing evidence that children in their second year of life have a well-developed understanding of social hierarchies and power dynamics, the researchers say. Left eye? Right eye? American robins have preference when looking at decoy eggsJul 23, 2019 7:00 pm839 views Just as humans are usually left- or right-handed, other species sometimes prefer one appendage, or eye, over the other. A new study reveals that American robins that preferentially use one eye significantly more than the other when looking at their own clutch of eggs are also more likely to detect, and reject, a foreign egg placed in their nest by another bird species – or by a devious scientist.For anemonefish, male-to-female sex change happens first in the brainJul 23, 2019 8:30 am1273 views The anemonefish is a gender-bending marvel. It starts out as a male, but can switch to female when circumstances allow – for example, when the only female present dies or disappears. In a new study, researchers found that the male-to-female sex-change occurs first in the fish’s brain and only later involves the gonads – sometimes after a delay of months or years.Human waste an asset to economy, environment, study findsJul 8, 2019 8:00 am2502 views Human waste might be an unpleasant public health burden, but scientists at the University of Illinois see sanitation as a valuable facet of global ecosystems and an overlooked source of nutrients, organic material and water.Aggressive, non-native wetland plants squelch species richness more than dominant natives doJun 19, 2019 8:30 am596 views Dominant, non-native plants reduce wetland biodiversity and abundance more than native plants do, researchers report in the journal Ecology Letters. Even native plants that dominate wetland landscapes play better with others, the team found.Biochar may boost carbon storage, but benefits to germination and growth appear scantJun 19, 2019 8:15 am1261 views Biochar may not be the miracle soil additive that many farmers and researchers hoped it to be, according to a new University of Illinois study. Biochar may boost the agricultural yield of some soils – especially poor quality ones – but there is no consensus on its effectiveness. Researchers tested different soils’ responses to multiple biochar types and were unable to verify their ability to increase plant growth. However, the study did show biochar’s ability to affect soil greenhouse gas emissions.