Blog

  • Modern elephants are classified into three species: the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and two African elephants — the forest-dwellers (Loxodonta cyclotis) and those that live in the savannah (Loxodonta africana). Up to date, scientists had assumed from fossil evidence that an ancient predecessor which lived in European forests until around 100,000 years ago, was a ...
  • The IPF World Week September 20, 2016
    September17th to 25th is IPF World Week: a week dedicated to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The term “Idiopathic” means that the exact cause of IPF is unknown. In patients with IPF, the normal healing process in the lung generated an abnormal amount of scar tissue. At the beginning, this change does not cause any symptoms, then ...
  • Cell lines Q&A September 13, 2016
    Biomedical scientists are often urged to check that their cell lines are not contaminated or mislabelled and the story of U87 cells is really representative of this need. U87 cell line is a widely used model of brain tumor. It was established in 1966 at Uppsala University in Sweden, using tissue from a 44-year-old woman ...
  • Neurotransmitters in real time September 7, 2016
    Neurotransmitters can exist at undetectable low levels and are usually monitored by analyzing the interstitial fluids between neurons; however, this technique cannot measure their activity in real time. Scientists of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and of the University of California, San Diego described a method for genetically ...
  • For many years, the role of immune system in oncology has been controversial; however, recent advances in cell biology have allowed to better understand the complex interactions among the immune system. One of the immune key signaling pathway is the PD1 ligand which interacts with its receptor PD1 to block the immune response when the ...
  • Junk DNA and OCT4 August 24, 2016
    The junk DNA was discovered in ’60 and it had been considered as a useless DNA debris for long time. Currently, important functions, such as switching genes on and off and setting the timing for changes in gene activity, especially during the evolution, have been proposed for the junk DNA. It seems that these DNA ...
  • Publish or perish August 16, 2016
    Publish or perish, but also get cited is one of the most popular maxim among scientists. Every scientist wants to gain great visibility of his/ her work. It is important not only for scientific advance, but also for scientist’s survival. Indeed, when scientists don’t publish for a number of reasons, it becomes more difficult to ...
  • Genetics of beer August 9, 2016
    What is better than a cold beer during a hot summer? Scientists at the Belgium’s University of Leuven and the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology are characterizing some 200 Belgian beers to assess what chemicals produce the flavors and aromas. They want to learn about the chemical and genetic basis of beer flavor to breed yeast ...
  • Dolly’s sisters August 1, 2016
    Twenty years ago, Dolly, the first animal derived from adult cells, was born. In 20 years, the technical advances of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) have not been so impressive as expected and the efficacy of SCNT remains low. The study of Wilmut and co-workers was really pioneering because it demonstrated the potential to induce ...
  • CRISP vs HIV 0-1 July 28, 2016
    The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated endonuclease Cas9 seems one of the most promising approach of genetic engineering to treat a number of diseases, including HIV infection. A recent study at the CINIMA -University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands- has demonstrated that CRISP can strongly inhibit HIV viral replication, but the virus rapidly escape ...
  • An international collaboration of cancer research institutes (US National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland; Cancer Research UK in London; the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK; and Hubrecht Organoid Technology of Utrecht in the Netherlands) aims to grow 1,000 new cell lines as a novel cancer model to study. The goal is to ...
  • The AAT deficiency July 14, 2016
    1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is a genetic disorder which contributes to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, liver cirrhosis and panniculitis. AATD was first described in 1963 by Laurell and Eriksson, who reported an absence of the first band on protein electrophoresis of serum taken from a patient at a local respiratory hospital. ...
  • A Healthy Diet July 8, 2016
    There are a number of foods which may contribute to improved health. Whole grains are an essential source of carbohydrates and contain fibres, linoleic acid and vitamins (vitamin E and folic acid), and also selenium. Choosing whole grain is important because some nutrients may be destroyed in the procedure to obtain flour and baking products. ...
  • Placebos have been found to affect the patient’s brain in several conditions, such as pain and motor disorders. In Parkinson’s disease, a placebo treatment promotes the release of dopamine in the striatum and modifies neuronal activities in both thalamic and sub thalamic nuclei. An Italian study on brain physiology has shown that the first administration of ...
  • It is reasonable to hypothesize that women might have evolved a particularly fast and strong immune response in order to protect developing fetuses and newborn babies. Hormones play an important role to boost the immune response. Oestrogen can activate lymphocytes and dendritic cells in the antiviral response, while testosterone tend to suppress the inflammatory response. ...
  • Autism spectrum disorders are usually considered as disorders of the brain, characterized by repetitive behaviors and deficits in communication skills and social interaction. In addition, a majority of autistic people also have an altered tactile sense: they are often hypersensitive to light touch and can be overwhelmed by certain textures. In the last years, the ...
  • Since their discovery, antibiotics have become a cornerstone of medical treatments and have saved many lives. However, the increase in antibiotic-resistance, especially in hospital wards, and the identification of novel bacterial strains have resulted in the fact that the currently available antibiotics are not enough to fulfill medical needs. Therefore, many scientists are actively involved ...
  • Hypokalemia June 2, 2016
    Electrolyte disturbances are normally asymptomatic and can be corrected by dietary supplementation. However, in some cases these disturbances may be extremely dangerous. Hypokalemia is a common electrolyte disturbance observed in more than 20% of hospitalized patients and it is associated with a number of conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, antifungal therapies. Our body can maintain ...
  • Biotechnological drugs have drastically changed the approaches of tailored medicine. Many diseases that were incurable a few years ago are currently treated and successfully managed. One of the main concerns about the use of drugs derived from a biotech processes is the immunogenicity. After the first administration, the biotech drugs can elicit an immune response ...
  • In primary school, teachers explained that giraffes evolved a long neck to eat leafs on high acacia trees. Now, collaboration between US and Tanzania researchers has given us a genetic explanation for this magnificent mystery of the nature. The comparison among giraffe and okapi genomes reveals that 70 genes in giraffe genomes are differentially regulated ...
  • A number of initiatives to promote the transparency of clinical trials have recently been launched. Both the FDA and EMA, the most important regulatory agencies that control drug approval in US and Europe, are committed to continuously extend their approach to transparency by publishing new policies and organizing consultations among stakeholders. In this innovative and ...
  • The ischemic stroke is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality for both females and males in developed countries. In addition to the traditional risk factors, such as smoking, hyperlipidemia, overweight, stress, and poor dietary habits, the role of a night job and sleep alterations in the risk of stroke occurrences has ...
  • New Horizons in Oncology April 27, 2016
    Last week in New Orleans, a number of oncologists and cancer scientists met together at the American Association Cancer Research Annual Meeting, one of the most important and exciting meetings in oncology. The theme for this year was “Delivering cures through cancer science” and focused on the pivotal link between basic science and clinical advances in ...
  • Epigenetics is an important branch of genetics that analyzes how DNA modifications, such as acetylation or methylation, can modify gene expression in an inherited way without introducing mutations into the nucleotide sequence. Some evidence indicates that parental eating habits may influence the offspring’s risk of obesity and diabetes. A recent study with mice compared the offspring ...
  • Numerous therapeutic options are currently available to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder mainly determined by axonal demyelination even at the early stages of the disease. Indeed, the axonal damage occurs both within visible lesions and in the normal-appearing white matter, as demonstrated by MRI scans and by the use of biomarkers. ...
  • LIM in the Diagnostic Lab April 6, 2016
    In many diseases, early diagnosis is strongly related with the prognosis and the clinical outcomes. For instance, the early identification of cancer lesions may allow for surgical removal with less invasive intervention and, most importantly, the prevention of spreading and metastases to other body sites. Similarly, a timely identification of viral or bacterial infection may ...
  • The Skinbow March 31, 2016
    Scientists at the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina have created an innovative animal model: a transgenic zebrafish with fluorescent skin. The fluorescent skin provides thousands of colors which allow scientists to track the behavior of a single cell in real time in the skin. This model would become pivotal in understanding the complex mechanism ...
  • What is the secret to build a productive and effective lab? Each principal investigator has developed his/ her strategy to set up a productive lab in terms of number of publications. However, PIs are usually scientists with very little knowledge on people management. For many years, PIs choose co-workers according to their career goals, financial ...
  • The third sector drugs March 14, 2016
    The pharmaceutical market is typically divided into innovative and generic drugs. The innovative products compete on differentiation and are commonly protected by patents; generic products have no exclusivity, are essentially identical, and can be competitively priced. However, between innovative and generic drugs, a novel group of agents is acquiring a growing interest. Third Sector drugs ...
  • Personalized medicine is one of the biggest challenges for many research institutes. Oncology is the first medical branch in which tailored interventions have been achieved. Many cancers are characterized by peculiar genetic mutations. The products of these mutations can be targeted by specific drugs. For instance, in chronic myeloid leukemia, only patients who harbor the ...
  • The mimiviruses March 1, 2016
    The mimiviruses have been proposed as a novel branch in the tree of life, alongside bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. The discovery that mimiviruses have developed some mechanisms of immune defense indicates that this virus is extremely distant from other viruses. Mimiviruses are so large that they are visible under a light microscope and have genes ...
  • A therapy with placebo February 24, 2016
    A recent study of a placebo group at the University of Turin, Italy has demonstrated that the brain cells of patients with Parkinson’s disease can be trained to respond to placebo. They analyzed 42 patients who were having implanted electrodes for the deep brain stimulation in their brains. During surgery, scientists could measure the activity ...
  • Biosimilar drugs February 16, 2016
    Biopharmaceuticals are important therapeutic options for many diseases from cancer to autoimmune or inflammatory diseases. Currently, the patents for several well-established biopharmaceuticals have expired or are approaching expiration. After patent expirations, similar but not identical molecules, namely biosimilars, are or have been under development by other manufacturers. Biosimilars are a novel class of medicinal products ...
  • One of the most challenging ethical issue is the opportunity to genetically modify healthy embryos for research purposes. Few days ago, the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) granted an application by developmental biologist Kathy Niakan, at the Francis Crick Institute in London, to use the genome-editing technique CRISPR–Cas9 in healthy human embryos. Five months ...
  • LIMS beyond research labs February 2, 2016
    Laboratory information management software are important to collect a huge amount of data that can be used in epidemiology to calculate incidence, prevalence, spread and several other information about certain condition. Statisticians and clinicians are, then, responsible to extrapolate statistical and clinical significance from these numbers. Epidemiology is mainly important to take a picture of a ...
  • The French clinical trial January 25, 2016
    There are many voices about the French clinical trial that leads to death a healthy volunteer who participated at the phase 1 trial. After the death, little official information was provided by the pharmaceutical company and the clinical research organization that managed the trial. On 22 January, ANSM (France’s National Agency for Medicines and Health ...
  • Meta-research is a novel branch of science that investigates how research is done. The overall aim of meta-research is to improve scientific quality of publications and it may be a great opportunity to critically interpret biomedical studies. It has been recently published on PLOS Biology that a number of preclinical research studies that describe animal ...
  • Transgenic and knock-out mice provide a global and systemic overview of a single gene function; this aspect is essential to understand the molecular mechanism on the basis of single gene related disease. Scientists can dispose of a number of mouse strains with different genetic background and immunological features; molecular biology techniques are continuously in progress ...
  • Hemophilia and pain January 6, 2016
    Hemophilia is a rare genetic disease associated to lack of coagulation factors, namely factor VIII and factor IX. Patients experience painful hemorrhages at arms, elbows and knees, that generate inflammation and in few years disrupt joints. Hemophilic patients have a number of problems, including orthopedic intervention to replace damaged joints, frequent hospitalizations and concomitant diseases ...
  • Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer for women. It is frequently associated with death, with a 5-year survival at about 45%. By comparison, 5-year survival for breast cancer stands at 90%. Late diagnosis and treatment resistance mainly account for the high mortality and morbidity associated with ovarian cancer. Standardized screening procedures to monitor ...
  • Last resort antibiotics December 30, 2015
    The identification of novel classes of antibiotics is crucial for many reasons: there are always new infections that have to be managed especially in hospitals and care institutes, bacteria are able to quickly acquire resistance and antibiotics are not useful for long time. There are some molecules that are used only in extremely rare cases, ...
  • A novel model for aging December 15, 2015
    The turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) are little African freshwater fish that reach sexual maturity 3 weeks after hatching and die of old age a few months later. Their natural habit is the transient pond that is wet only during the rainy season in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. For this reason, the killifish should rapidly develop, mate ...
  • December is the month of balance: it is the time to re-think about the past year and to make project for the coming one. A laboratory information management system may be crucial to achieve also these goals. Indeed, the software can collect information about experiments, samples and reagents required to do them. Therefore, it is ...
  • Paris meeting on Climate Change December 2, 2015
    The crucial meeting on Climate change just finished in Paris. There are many hot topics in the agenda because the issues related to climate changes are of great interest for all of us. The majority of countries participates at this meeting and discusses how they could modify their economical approaches to reduce carbon emission and ...
  • Novel philosophy on diet November 23, 2015
    A wide study has recently elaborated data from more than 53 weight-loss studies to evaluate the effectiveness of diets. Overall, more than 68.000 people have been included in this study and participants were only about 5 kilograms lighter at the end of each dietary restriction. Despite their popularity, low- fat diets have not resulted more ...
  • Gene therapy is based on delivering new genetic information into the target cells to lead an effective expression of a remedial protein without interfering with cellular regulatory mechanisms. Three requirements should be satisfied to make the gene therapy as feasible: an animal model should be available, the molecular mechanism should be well determined and there ...
  • Massively parallel or ‘next-generation’ sequencing has made possible to cost-effectively generate large amounts of sequence data and obtain information about variants down to single-base resolution in a rapid, high-throughput fashion on the scale of the whole human genome. Enrichment by either solid- phase or in- solution targeted capture can rapidly isolate candidate regions of interest ...
  • LIMS and pharmacovigilance November 3, 2015
    We have already discussed about the importance of an efficient laboratory information management system (LIMS) in both small labs and big pharma to record the entire life of a project. LIMS like systems can be extremely useful also in pharmacovigilance phase of drug development to collect data from thousands of patients who are using a ...
  • How do we use our time? October 26, 2015
    There is a Centre in the Oxford University that collects daily diaries and studies the use of time around the world. The Centre’s thesaurus have been gathered from nearly 30 countries, span more than 50 years and cover some 850,000 person-days. It provides a complex but detailed picture about the use of daily time and ...
  • Elephants do not get cancer October 20, 2015
    This is an old mystery of biology that has recently been solved. Elephant are big and long-lived animals; their cells divide thousands of times and are prone to acquire numerous random mutations during the lifespan. However, the rate of death for cancer is really low in captive-elephant population. Two independent teams of scientists tried to ...

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