Molecular Biology

Neurophilosophy

Category archives for Molecular Biology

(Image credit: William Ormerod/ Unversity of Wisconsin-Madison) A recent study into the biophysical properties of a highly reflective and self-organizing squid protein called reflectin will inform researchers about the process of “bottom-up” synthesis of nanoscale structures and could lead to the development of thin-film coatings for microstructured materials, bringing scientists one step closer to the…

The biochemistry of memory

The current issue of Chemical & Engineering News contains a series of articles by Sophie L. Rovner on memory: Hold that thought is a comprehensive piece about what is known of the cellular and biochemical bases of memory formation. Molecules for memory discusses the ethical issues regarding memory-enhancing drugs being developed by several pharmaceuticals companies.…

(Image: Roberto Sozzani) Russian researchers affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have developed a red fluorescent protein that is 7-10 times brighter than any other red fluorescent protein currently being used for imaging. The protein, which has been named Katushka, is derived from a brilliant red sea anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor, the blue tip anemone,…

This year, several research groups have used bacterial proteins called channelrhodopsins to develop a technique with which light can be used to control the activity of nerve cells or the behaviour of small organisms. For example, Ed Boyden’s group at the MIT Media Lab used the method to activate or inhibit neurons on a millisecond-by-millsecond…

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric condition which is characterized by intrusive thoughts and ritualized and repetitive behaviours, such as excessive hand-washing, which are performed in order to neutralize the obsessions. OCD is one of a spectrum of disorders that includes Tourette’s Syndrome, autism and bipolar disorder. OCD affects approximately 2% of the population,…

HIV causes dementia by inhibiting neurogenesis

A significant proportion of people with HIV/ AIDS develop neurological symptoms, such as impaired co-ordination, personality changes, deficits in learning and memory, and mania and depression. HIV-associated dementia is difficult to treat; although highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) has led to improved prognoses for patients, these drugs do not effectively penetrate the blood brain barrier.…

Alzheimer’s protein implicated in glaucoma

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by the formation of senile plaques consisting of amyloid-beta protein. The molecular genetic basis of Alzheimer’s is very complex. Amyloid-beta is a toxic protein fragment produced by abnormal processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP), which accumulates to form the insoluble plaques found within cells. (This occurs by a…

12-headed jellyfish

This one only has two, but Wolfgang Jacob and Bernd Schierwater, of Yale University and Hanover University of Veterinary Medicine, respectively, have created jellyfish with up to 12 heads. The multiple-headed hydromedusa (Eleutheria dichotoma) specimens were created by using RNA inhibition or antisense oligonucleotides to silence various homeobox genes (Cnox-2 and Cnox-3) that are involved…