IN THIS ISSUE .
March 21, 2007
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Cool Image: Color-Coded Chromosomes
By mixing fluorescent dyes like an artist mixes paints, scientists are able to color code individual chromosomes. The technique, abbreviated multicolor-FISH, allows researchers to visualize genetic abnormalities often linked to disease. In this image, "painted" chromosomes from a person with a hereditary disease called Werner Syndrome show where a piece of one chromosome has fused to another (see the gold-tipped maroon chromosome in the center). As reported by molecular biologist Jan Karlseder of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, such damage is typical among people with this rare syndrome. Courtesy of Anna Jauch, Institute of Human Genetics, Heidelberg, Germany.
Karlseder lab home page
Article abstract (from the February 6, 2007, issue of PNAS)
MicroRNA Helps Prevent Tumors
Scientists have linked tiny bits of genetic material called microRNAs to many cellular processes, but pinpointing their precise targets has been a challenge. Now, molecular biologist David Bartel of the Whitehead Institute has shown that a microRNA called let-7 quashes the activity of a gene implicated in human cancers. When Bartel's team rendered the cancer gene unresponsive to let-7 and injected it into mice, the rodents developed multiple tumors. The results not only highlight a new mechanism for cancer formation, they mark the first time a microRNA has been directly linked to a specific gene in mammals.
Bartel lab home page
Article abstract (from the February 22, 2007, online issue of Science)
DNA Technology Gives Strength to New Suture
TephaFLEX Absorbable Suture. Courtesy of Jeffery Titcomb Studio.
A new suture could stitch up the market on cuts that heal slowly or need an especially strong closure. David P. Martin and colleagues at biotechnology firm Tepha, Inc., used recombinant DNA technology to develop an absorbable suture that's stronger and lasts longer than other materials currently available. The suture has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the approach used to develop it could lead to other new surgical materials.
Tepha, Inc., home page
Artificial Protein Looks Natural
Ribbon diagrams showing part of the artificial protein. Courtesy of Schepartz.
Chemists led by Yale University's Alanna Schepartz have used
artificial building blocks to create a synthetic protein with
the potential for therapeutic applications. The protein-like
molecule looks and seems to act much like a natural protein.
Because the body doesn't have processes to degrade synthetic
proteins, this molecule or others like it could last longer
or work in more parts of the body—key advantages
over existing protein drugs.
Schepartz lab home page
Article abstract (from the January 19, 2007, online issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society)
Explore The New Genetics
Cover, The New Genetics
All living things use the DNA in genes as an instruction manual for life. To learn how genes influence health and disease, read NIGMS' latest science education booklet, The New Genetics. This free publication explains the basics of DNA, its molecular cousin RNA, and much more. When you're done reading, you'll understand why studies of evolution drive medical research and how computers are advancing genetics in the 21st century.
Order or view The New Genetics
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