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  • Computational human cell reveals new insight on genetic information processing

    Researchers have developed the first computational model of a human cell and simulated its behavior for 15 minutes – the longest time achieved for a biological system of this complexity. In a new study, simulations reveal the effects of spatial organization within cells on some of the genetic processes that control the regulation and development of human traits and some human diseases.

  • Bacterial protein fragment kills lung cells in pulmonary fibrosis, study finds

    A bacterial protein fragment instigates lung tissue death in pulmonary fibrosis, a mysterious disease affecting millions of people worldwide, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Mie University in Japan.

  • Crumpled graphene makes ultra-sensitive cancer DNA detector

    Graphene-based biosensors could usher in an era of liquid biopsy, detecting DNA cancer markers circulating in a patient’s blood or serum. But current designs need a lot of DNA. In a new study, crumpling graphene makes it more than ten thousand times more sensitive to DNA by creating electrical “hot spots,” researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found.

  • Two hormones drive anemonefish fathering, aggression

    Two brain-signaling molecules control how anemonefish dads care for their young and respond to nest intruders, researchers report in a new study. Because there are many similarities in brain structure between fish and humans, the findings offer insight into the fundamental nature of parental care, the scientists say.

  • Grad student names new treehopper species after Lady Gaga

    According to Brendan Morris, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, treehoppers are the wackiest, most astonishing bugs most people have never heard of. They are morphological wonders, sporting bizarre protuberances that look like horns, gnarled branches, antlers, fruiting fungi, brightly colored flags or dead plant leaves.

    To draw attention to this group, Morris named a newly discovered treehopper species after Lady Gaga, a musical performer who has her own flamboyant, shape-shifting style.

  • Veterinary infectious disease expert weighs in on coronavirus threat

    Influenza, SARS and COVID-19 are all zoonotic diseases, readily transmitted from animals to humans. The viruses that cause these diseases also share traits that allow them to quickly mutate, infect widely and spread around the world.

    In a new podcast, a veterinarian and expert in zoonotic diseases offers insights into the special characteristics of the new coronavirus that make it more like influenza and less like SARS or the virus that causes the especially lethal Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome.

  • Study: Daily avocado consumption improves attention in persons with overweight, obesity

    A diet including daily avocado consumption improves the ability to focus attention in adults with overweight and obesity, a new randomized control trial found.

     

  • Veterinarians: Dogs, too, can experience hearing loss

    Just like humans, dogs are sometimes born with impaired hearing or experience hearing loss as a result of disease, inflammation, aging or exposure to noise. Dog owners and K-9 handlers ought to keep this in mind when adopting or caring for dogs, and when bringing them into noisy environments, researchers say.

  • Coral reefs in Turks and Caicos Islands resist global bleaching event

    A study that relied on citizen scientists to monitor the health of corals on Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean from 2012 to 2018 found that 35 key coral species remained resilient during a 2014-17 global coral-bleaching event that harmed coral reefs around the world. Even corals that experienced bleaching quickly recovered, the researchers found. Some corals appeared healthier in 2017 than they were in 2014.

  • Study maps landmarks of peripheral artery disease to guide treatment development

    Novel biomedical advances that show promise in the lab often fall short in clinical trials. For researchers studying peripheral artery disease, this is made more difficult by a lack of standardized metrics for what recovery looks like. A new study from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers identifies major landmarks of PAD recovery, creating signposts for researchers seeking to understand the disease and develop treatments.

  • New book tells of early Antarctic explorations, continent's connection to climate

    A new book illustrates the environmental history of Antarctica through stories of 19th-century expeditions.

  • Team deciphers how myotonic dystrophy generates lethal heart dysfunctions

    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 beasts

    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 mice

    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: crustaceans

    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 levels

    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 clinic

    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 report

    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 school

    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, metastasis

    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 yet

    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 clinic

    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 sequencing

    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 patients

    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 brain

    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 US

    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 training

    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 virus

    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 Fellows

    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 finds

    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 speciation

    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 collisions

    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 app

    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 energy

    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 future

    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 study

    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 source

    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 finds

    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 finds

    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 networks

    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 finds

    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 finds

    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 say

    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 semiconductor

    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 corn

    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 researchers

    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?

    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, nerves

    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 campus

    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 age

    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.