Whether the adverse cognitive effects of medications can be reversed is of significant importance to an aging population, their caregivers and their families, as well as to an overburdened health care system.
Niamh O’Sullivan’s interest in science was kindled at a young age when she noticed the segregation of certain physical characteristics in her extended family. Learning that genetics controlled the segregation of these dominant traits, O’Sullivan entered the science program at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. She specialized in genetics at a time when there was a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the future of human genetics; the first draft of the human genome project had just become available, opening up new potential to understand the function of genes.
Nature has many examples of self-assembly, and bioengineers are interested in copying or manipulating these systems to create useful new materials or devices. Amyloid proteins, for example, can self-assemble into the tangled plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease -- but similar proteins can also form very useful materials, such as spider silk, or biofilms around living cells. Researchers at UC Davis and Rice University have now come up with methods to manipulate natural proteins so that they self-assemble into amyloid fibrils.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists have identified a circuit in the brains of mice that regulates thirst. When a subset of cells in the circuit is switched on, mice immediately begin drinking water, even if they are fully hydrated. A second set of cells suppresses the urge to drink.
The largest-ever autism genome study, funded by Autism Speaks, reveals that the disorder's genetic underpinnings are even more complex than previously thought: Most siblings who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have different autism-linked genes.
Led by the director of the Autism Speaks MSSNG project (pronounced "missing"), the report made the cover of Nature Medicine.