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Mapping the brain at high resolution

Posted
January 17, 2019

New 3-D imaging technique can reveal, much more quickly than other methods, how neurons connect throughout the brain.

Researchers have developed a new way to image the brain with unprecedented resolution and speed. Using this approach, they can locate individual neurons, trace connections between them, and visualize organelles inside...

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Gut-brain connection signals worms to alter behavior while eating

Posted
December 20, 2018

Study may lead to a better understanding of the digestive tract’s nervous system.

When a hungry worm encounters a rich food source, it immediately slows down so it can devour the feast. Once the worm is full, or the food runs out, it will begin roaming again.

A new study from MIT now reveals more detail about how the worm’s digestive tract signals the brain when to linger in a plentiful spot. The researchers found that a type of nerve cell found in the gut of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans is specialized to detect when bacteria are ingested; once that...

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Engineering "capture compounds" to probe cell growth

Posted
December 17, 2018

Researchers develop a method to investigate how bacteria respond to starvation and to identify which proteins bind to the "magic spot" - ppGpp. 

In 1969, scientist Michael Cashel was analyzing the compounds produced by starved bacteria when he noticed two spots appearing on his chromatogram as if by magic. Today, we know one of these “magic spots,” as researchers call them, as guanosine tetraphosphate, or ppGpp for short. We also understand that it is a signaling molecule present in virtually all bacteria, helping tune cell growth and size based...

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Computer model offers more control over protein design

Posted
November 5, 2018

New approach generates a wider variety of protein sequences optimized to bind to drug targets.

Designing synthetic proteins that can act as drugs for cancer or other diseases can be a tedious process: It generally involves creating a library of millions of proteins, then screening the library to find proteins that bind the correct target.

MIT biologists have now come up with a more refined approach in which they use computer modeling to predict how different protein sequences will interact with the target. This strategy generates a larger number of candidates and also offers...