"When the human genome was sequenced, biologists were surprised to find that very little of the genome — less than 3 percent — corresponds to protein-coding genes. What, they wondered, was all the rest of that DNA doing?
It turns out that much of it codes for genetic snippets known as long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs. In recent years, scientists have found that these molecules often help to regulate which genes get turned on or off inside a cell. However, little is known about the specific roles of the thousands of lncRNAs discovered so far.
In a new study, MIT biologists have identified a critical role for a lncRNA they dubbed “Braveheart.” This lncRNA appears to stimulate stem cells to transform into heart cells during mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation; the researchers suspect that lncRNAs may control this process in humans as well. If so, learning more about lncRNAs could offer a new approach to developing regenerative drugs for patients whose hearts have been damaged by cardiovascular disease or aging."
- Date added:
- Feb 20, 2013
Diana Bautista, a 2009 Pew scholar and assistant professor of molecular and cell biology at University of California, Berkeley, was featured in a segment of Morning Edition, explaining the vibrating sensation we experience when we eat Sichuan peppers. Her research on the nerve cells involved in the response to spicy food could unveil possible treatments for tingling and numbing paresthesia, or chronic “pins and needles.”More info
Nobel laureate Torsten Wiesel helped establish the Pew Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences, and is chair of the program’s national advisory committee. In this video, he discusses the program’s origins and successes over its first two decades.More info
In January, Antonio Giraldez, a 2008 Pew Scholar, was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for his research on the role of microRNAs in the early developmental stages of vertebrates.More info
The sensation of feeling itchy is pretty universal, and yet scientists still don't completely understand the complex processes that give us the urge to scratch.More info
Two BU researchers will travel to Washington, D.C., later this year to accept the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), one of the highest honors for young science and engineering professionals.More info
In October, 2013 Pew scholar Shelly Peyton won the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, a five-year, $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. With the funds, the assistant professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is focusing on cancer spread—and the possibility that some cancer treatments might speed up the process.More info
Wired magazine has compiled a list of the year’s best scientific visualizations—including an image by 2013 Pew scholar Viviana Gradinaru. In collaboration with other researchers at California Institute of Technology, the assistant professor created a technique to make fatty tissues translucent and color-coded for easier study.More info
Mark Davis, a 1985 Pew scholar and director of Stanford University’s Institute for Immunity Transplantation and Infection, is featured in US News & World Report for his research on how men and women respond differently to influenza vaccines. His study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to demonstrate a correlation between testosterone levels, gene expression, and immune responsiveness in humans.More info