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  • Photo of Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois who studies the ethical and policy implications of advanced biotechnologies

    Paper: Valuable antibody patents vulnerable to overly broad doctrinal shift in patent law

    A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign legal scholar Jacob S. Sherkow advocates for a middle ground in patent claims involving antibodies, the backbone of modern bioscience.

  • Eric R. Larson and Sally McConkey

    How do we measure community disaster resilience?

    In a new study, retired Illinois State Water Survey engineer Sally McConkey and Eric R. Larson, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences at the U. of I., examined the metrics used at a county scale for national assessments to determine whether communities are prepared to withstand and recover from natural disasters such as floods and fires. McConkey spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about what they found.

  • Photos of numerous primate species whose territories overlap with Indigenous peoples' lands around the world.

    Study links protecting Indigenous peoples' lands to greater nonhuman primate biodiversity

    By comparing geographic patterns of nonhuman primate biodiversity and human land-use, researchers discovered that areas managed or controlled by Indigenous peoples tend to have significantly more primate biodiversity than nearby regions. They also found that lorises, tarsiers, monkeys and apes whose territories overlap with Indigenous areas are less likely to be classified as vulnerable, threatened or endangered than those living fully outside Indigenous lands.

  • Portrait of Kai Zhang

    Light-activated technique helps bring cell powerhouses back into balance

    Light-activated proteins can help normalize dysfunction within cells and could be used as a treatment for diseases such as cancer or mitochondrial diseases, new research suggests.

    Researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University at Buffalo published the results of their study in the journal Nature Communications. The research centers on the functions of mitochondria, organelles within a cell that act as the cell’s “power plant” and source of energy.

  • photo of five leafhopper species

    Study tracks plant pathogens in leafhoppers from natural areas

    Phytoplasmas are bacteria that can invade the vascular tissues of plants, causing many different crop diseases. While most studies of phytoplasmas begin by examining plants showing disease symptoms, a new analysis focuses on the tiny insects that carry the infectious bacteria from plant to plant. By extracting and testing DNA from archival leafhopper specimens collected in natural areas, the study identified new phytoplasma strains and found new associations between leafhoppers and phytoplasmas known to harm crop plants.

  • Photo of professor Allen Barton

    Study links insulin resistance, advanced cell aging with childhood poverty

    Black adolescents who lived in poverty as children and were pessimistic about their future had accelerated immune cell aging and greater levels of insulin resistance in their mid- to late twenties, according to a study by Allen W. Barton, a professor of human development and family studies.

  • Photo of Mound 14 surrounded by water

    North 'plaza' in Cahokia was likely inundated year-round, study finds

    The ancient North American city of Cahokia had as its focal point a feature now known as Monks Mound, a giant earthwork surrounded on its north, south, east and west by large rectangular open areas. These flat zones, called plazas by archaeologists since the early 1960s, were thought to serve as communal areas that served the many mounds and structures of the city.

    New paleoenvironmental analyses of the north plaza suggest it was almost always underwater, calling into question earlier interpretations of the north plaza’s role in Cahokian society. The study is reported in the journal World Archaeology.

  • Photo of the researcher.

    In survey, COVID-19 vaccine recipients report changes in menstrual bleeding

    A new analysis of reports from more than 35,000 people offers the most comprehensive assessment so far of menstrual changes experienced by pre- and post-menopausal individuals in the first two weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Published in the journal Science Advances, the study adds to the evidence that significant numbers of people experience this unexpected side effect.

  • Photo of Mani Nakamura and his co-authors professor emeritus John Erdman, alumna Catherine Applegate and graduate student Mindy Lee

    Study: Individualized eating program helps dieters lose weight, keep it off

    An individualized diet plan developed by nutritionists at the U. of I. shows promise at helping users lose weight and keep it off. The program uses a visual tool that encourages dieters to select foods high in protein and fiber.

  • Photo of the researcher.

    Study explores unusual interaction between viruses, live vaccines

    A study of a herpes virus that infects chickens offers new insights into potentially problematic interactions between vaccines made from live viruses and the viruses they are meant to thwart.

  • A computer rendering of an atomic-level model of viral spike proteins

    COVID-19 virus spike protein flexibility improved by human cell's own modifications

    When the coronavirus causing COVID-19 infects human cells, the cell’s protein-processing machinery makes modifications to the spike protein that render it more flexible and mobile, which could increase its ability to infect other cells and to evade antibodies, a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found.

    The researchers created an atomic-level computational model of the spike protein and ran multiple simulations to examine the protein’s dynamics and how the cell’s modifications affected those dynamics. This is the first study to present such a detailed picture of the protein that plays a key role in COVID-19 infection and immunity, the researchers said.

  • Photo of elephant shrew

    Study explores coevolution of mammals and their lice

    According to a new study, the first louse to take up residence on a mammalian host likely started out as a parasite of birds. That host-jumping event tens of millions of years ago began the long association between mammals and lice, setting the stage for their coevolution and offering more opportunities for the lice to spread to other mammals.

  • Photo of the researcher

    Will renaming carp help control them?

    Illinois officials this month announced that Asian carp would now be called “copi” in an attempt to make the fish more desirable for eating. Joe Parkos, the director of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Kaskaskia, Ridge Lake and Sam Parr biological stations in Illinois, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about scientific initiatives to study and control carp/copi fish populations and the potential for rebranding to aid those efforts.

     

  • Martin Burke stands behind a seated Stella Ekaputri

    Small molecule transports iron in mice, human cells to treat some forms of anemia

    A natural small molecule derived from a cypress tree can transport iron in live mice and human cells lacking the protein that normally does the job, easing a buildup of iron in the liver and restoring hemoglobin and red blood cell production, a new study found.

  • Photo montage of the researcher’s face reflected in a chat screen with several other people onscreen.

    Staring at yourself during virtual chats may worsen your mood, research finds

    A new study finds that the more a person stares at themself while talking with a partner in an online chat, the more their mood degrades over the course of the conversation. Alcohol use appears to worsen the problem, the researchers found.

    Reported in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, the findings point to a potentially problematic role of online meeting platforms in exacerbating psychological problems like anxiety and depression, the researchers said.

  • Photo of professor Susan Aguinaga

    Latin dance may be a step toward better working memory for older Latinos

    Latin dance lessons may boost the working memory of Latino older adults and help prevent age-related cognitive decline, says new research by kinesiology and community health professor Susan Aguiñaga.

  • A masked student holds a saliva collection test tube

    SHIELD program a model for effective pandemic management, data show

    In the fall of 2020, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign welcomed students back for in-person instruction amid the powerful first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university successfully maintained operations throughout the semester – with zero COVID-19-related deaths or hospitalizations in the campus community – thanks to its “SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell” program. In a sweeping report, the team behind the campuswide collaboration details the innovations in modeling, saliva testing and results reporting that helped mitigate the spread of the virus, and shares the data collected and lessons learned through the process.

  • Research Team

    Corn genetic heritage the strongest driver of chemical defenses against munching bugs

    Plants release chemical distress signals when under attack from chewing insects. These “911 calls" alert other bugs that dinner or a nice place to lay their eggs is available nearby. If predatory or parasitic insects detect the right signal, they swoop in like saviors to make a meal out of – or lay their eggs in – the bodies of the herbivore insects.

    A new study explores the factors that contribute to corn plants’ chemical signaling capacity, comparing how different corn varieties respond to herbivory in the presence or absence of a soil bacterium known to promote plant health.

  • Portrait of researcher Angad Mehta in his laboratory

    Scientists create viable, reproducing yeast-cyanobacterial hybrids

    Every plant, animal or other nucleus-containing cell also harbors an array of miniature “organs” that perform essential functions for the cell. In plants, for example, organelles called chloroplasts photosynthesize to generate energy for the organism. Because some organelles contain their own DNA and resemble single-celled organisms, scientists have long theorized that the evolution of complex life forms got its start when one cell engulfed another and the two learned to live in harmony – eventually forming, and belonging to, a single entity.

  • Photo of researchers

    Study tracks COVID-19 infection dynamics in adults

    A team led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tracked the rise and fall of SARS-CoV-2 in the saliva and nasal cavities of people newly infected with the virus. The study was the first to follow acute COVID-19 infections over time through repeated sampling and to compare results from different testing methodologies.

  • Graphic illustration of antibodies attacking the SARS-CoV-2 virus

    Machine-learning model can distinguish antibody targets

    A new study shows that it is possible to use the genetic sequences of a person’s antibodies to predict what pathogens those antibodies will target. Reported in the journal Immunity, the new approach successfully differentiates between antibodies against influenza and those attacking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Photo of researchers

    New approach enhances muscle recovery in aged mice

    Scientists have developed a promising new method to combat the age-related losses in muscle mass that often accompany immobility after injury or illness. Their technique, demonstrated in mice, arrests the process by which muscles begin to deteriorate at the onset of exercise after a period of inactivity.

  • Photo of the research team at the U. of I.: first author Neda Seyedsadjadi, Raul Alfaro Leiva, M. Yanina Pepino and Dr. Blair Rowitz

    Study: First-pass metabolism of alcohol occurs in women's stomachs

    Research led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign identifies the stomach, not the liver, as the site of alcohol first-pass metabolism in women who had sleeve gastrectomies and control-group peers.

  • research team

    Team identifies compound with potent antiseizure effects

    Researchers studying epileptic seizures of the temporal lobe – the most common type of epilepsy – discovered a compound that reduces seizures in the hippocampus, a brain region where many such seizures originate. The compound, known as TC-2153, lessened the severity of seizures in mice.

  • Photo of Researcher

    Study ties present-day Native American tribe to ancestors in San Francisco Bay Area

    A genomic study of Native peoples in the San Francisco Bay Area finds that eight present-day members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe share ancestry with 12 individuals who lived in the region several hundred to 2,000 years ago.

  • Portrait of the researcher outdoors.

    Vigilantism is an identity for some people, researchers report

    A new study finds that some people routinely monitor the behavior of others and are eager to punish those who violate laws or societal norms, especially when they believe authorities have failed to do so. These self-appointed enforcers willingly embrace the job of keeping order, aren’t particularly concerned about accidentally punishing innocent people, and consider themselves kind and moral actors, the researchers found.

  • Photo of Lowell Gentry

    How do we solve the problem of agricultural nutrient runoff?

    Agricultural runoff from Midwestern farms is a major contributor to a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen, phosphorous and other farm nutrients drain into the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf, spurring algae to overpopulate and suffocating other aquatic life. Illinois is a main culprit in this ongoing environmental blight. News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates spoke with U. of I. natural resources and environmental sciences researcher Lowell Gentry about possible solutions.

  • Research team photo

    Team uses MRI to image epigenetics in the brain

    A multidisciplinary team at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has devised a new approach to 3D imaging that captures DNA methylation, a key epigenetic change associated with learning in the brain. The scientists say their proof-of-concept study in pigs will easily translate to humans, as the new method relies on standard MRI technology and biological markers already in use in human medicine.

  • Photo of Researcher

    Can pet dogs be infected with coronavirus?

    Researchers at the U. of I. diagnosed a pet dog in Chicago with infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. This is the first dog in Illinois to test positive for the coronavirus. A team led by pathobiology professor Ying Fang made the diagnosis. She talks about the findings and future research in pets.

  • Photo of research team.

    Study identifies key regulator of cell differentiation

    Scientists have identified a molecule that regulates the fate of cells, switching off their ability to differentiate into distinct cell types.

  • Image of artwork featuring a drawing of a wasp and the Insect Fear Film Festival title.

    Stinging insects and their venom are focus of Insect Fear Film Festival

    The short films and film clips will feature humorous and horrific depictions of stinging insects and their effects.

  • Photo of researchers Anna Arthur, Amirah Burton Obanla and Brenda Koester

    Oncology dietitians rarely ask cancer patients about food insecurity, study finds

    While many cancer survivors experience food insecurity, few oncology registered dietitians interviewed by U. of I. researchers indicated that they routinely screen their patients for it.

  • Photo of researcher in a lab coat

    How can Illinois address the problem of PFAS pollution?

    The state of Illinois is investigating the occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in community water supplies across the state, with an eye toward developing policies to reduce their use. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers and potential developmental problems in children. News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates spoke about the issue with John Scott, a senior chemist with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

  • Deborah Leckband

    'Molecular Velcro' enables tissues to sense, react to mechanical force

    The Velcro-like cellular proteins that hold cells and tissues together also perform critical functions when they experience increased tension. A new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study observed that when tugged upon in a controlled manner, these proteins – called cadherins – communicate with growth factors to influence in vitro tumor growth in human carcinoma cells.

  • Photo of the researchers in front of their molecule machine

    New set of chemical building blocks makes complex 3D molecules in a snap

    A new set of molecular building blocks aims to make complex chemistry as simple and accessible as a toy construction kit. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed a new class of chemical building blocks that simply snap together to form 3D molecules with complex twists and turns, and an automated machine to assemble the blocks like a 3D printer for molecules. This automation could allow chemists and nonchemists alike to develop new pharmaceuticals, materials, diagnostic probes, catalysts, perfumes, sweeteners and more.

  • Photo of researcher.

    14 Illinois faculty members elected AAAS Fellows

    Fourteen University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty members have been elected 2021 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  • Study: Telehealth services for the elderly should include caregivers

    Family caregivers are often involved in the day-to-day activities of their older relatives, such as communicating with doctors, helping them navigate the health care system and making decisions that affect their care. When the pandemic hit, forcing health care systems to switch to telehealth visits, many of the caregivers who would have been involved in in-person care were left out of the process, according to a new observational study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

  • Cute dog lies on the grass looking at the camera.

    Overweight dogs respond well to high-protein, high-fiber diet

    A study of overweight dogs fed a reduced calorie, high-protein, high-fiber diet for 24 weeks found that the dogs’ body composition and inflammatory markers changed over time in ways that parallel the positive changes seen in humans on similar diets. The dogs achieved a healthier weight without losing too much muscle mass, and their serum triglycerides, insulin and inflammatory markers all decreased with weight loss.

  • Research team stands in front of a screen with a 3D image of the minimal cell and its contents.

    Researchers simulate behavior of living 'minimal cell' in three dimensions

    Scientists report that they have built a living “minimal cell” with a genome stripped down to its barest essentials – and a computer model of the cell that mirrors its behavior. By refining and testing their model, the scientists say they are developing a system that can predict how changes to the genomes, living conditions or physical characteristics of live cells will alter how they function.

  • A microscope image of cells

    CRISPR-Cas13 targets proteins causing ALS, Huntington's disease in the mouse nervous system

    A new study by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers used a targeted CRISPR technique in the central nervous systems of mice to turn off production of mutant proteins that can cause ALS and Huntington’s disease. Rather than the popular DNA-editing CRISPR-Cas9 technique, the new approach uses CRISPR-Cas13, which can target mRNA – the messenger molecule that carries protein blueprints transcribed from DNA. The Illinois team developed Cas13 systems that could target and cut RNAs that code for the proteins that trigger ALS and Huntington’s disease, effectively silencing the genes without disturbing the cell’s DNA.

  • Sheldon H. Jacobson

    Models predict optimal airplane seating for reduced viral transmission

    As airline ticket sales have soared during the holiday season and the omicron variant causes surges of COVID-19 cases, a new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study may help passengers and airlines reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission by optimally seating passengers to minimize potential virus spread. Researchers used the most current data on aerosol spread on airplanes to calculate optimal seating assignments for common Boeing aircraft at different capacities. 

  • Photo of researchers together

    Study: Brain mechanisms involved in learning also drive social conformity

    Some of the same brain systems known to play a role in learning from trial and error also are engaged when people conform to social norms, scientists report in a new study. The findings are important, the researchers said, because changing one’s behavior to align with one’s peers can contribute to community-building or – depending on the goals and values of the group – societal breakdown.

  • Eung Chang Kim and Hee Jung Chung in a laboratory.

    Gene mutation leads to epileptic encephalopathy symptoms, neuron death in mice

    Mice with a genetic mutation seen in patients with epileptic encephalopathy, a severe form of congenital epilepsy, exhibit not only the seizure, developmental and behavioral symptoms of the disorder, but also neural degeneration and inflammation in the brain, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found in a new study. The findings highlight the mutation as an important part of the disease’s pathology and a potential target for treatment.

  • Dr. Martin Burke sits at a desk.

    Atomic structure of antifungal drug confirms unusual mechanism, opens door to less-toxic derivatives

    Advanced molecular imaging technology has now mapped the structure of a drug widely used to treat fungal infections but whose workings have mystified researchers and physicians for nearly 70 years. In a new study, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the National Institutes of Health described in atomistic detail the structure of the drug amphotericin B, a powerful but toxic antifungal agent. Seeing the structure provides illumination in the researchers’ quest to formulate less-toxic AmB derivatives.

  • Photo shows a textured pattern of sunken tundra, with tiny islands of land surrounded by standing water.

    Study: Fire hastens permafrost collapse in Arctic Alaska

    While climate change is the primary driver of permafrost degradation in Arctic Alaska, a new analysis of 70 years of data reveals that tundra fires are accelerating that decline, contributing disproportionately to a phenomenon known as “thermokarst,” the abrupt collapse of ice-rich permafrost as a result of thawing.

  • Photo of researchers.

    Nonverbal social interactions – even with unfriendly avatars – boost cooperation, study finds

    Researchers used animated humanoid avatars to study how nonverbal cues influence people’s behavior. The research offers insight into the brain mechanisms that drive social and economic decision-making.

    Participants were more willing to cooperate with animated avatars than with static figures representing their negotiation partners, the study revealed. It also found – somewhat surprisingly – that people were more consistently willing to accept unfair offers from unfriendly avatars than from friendly ones.

  • Professor Lori Raetzman and student Rachel Gonzalez stand outdoors.

    Water disinfection byproduct disrupts reproductive hormones, damages pituitary in female mice

    A byproduct formed during water disinfection disrupts hormones in the brain that regulate the female reproductive cycle in mice and also damages cells in the pituitary gland, a new study from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers found. The new study’s findings of the chemical’s effects on reproductive regulation in the brain complement previous work that found that it also disrupts function in and causes damage to ovary cells, indicating the chemical could impact the entire reproductive system. The researchers hope that the continued study of these effects can help establish a safe level of exposure to guide future regulations.

  • A group of common vampire bats clusters together on the roof of a cave.

    Fraternizing vampire bats share 'social microbiomes'

    An unusual study of vampire bats reveals that their gut microbiomes become more similar the more often they engage in social behaviors with one another.

  • Photo of Atul Jain

    Six Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential

    Six faculty members at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2021 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list.

  • The research team led by Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, with Michael J. Spinella and Joseph Irudayaraj

    PFAS exposure, high-fat diet drive prostate cells’ metabolism into pro-cancer state

    Consuming a high-fat diet along with exposure to PFAS changes benign and malignant prostate cells, promoting rapid tumor growth, scientists at the University of Illinois found in mouse study.