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From the College of Natural Sciences
Raising the Tail: Jim Allison's Pioneering Cancer Treatment

Raising the Tail: Jim Allison's Pioneering Cancer Treatment

This excerpt is from an article by Jenny Blair, published May 2, 2014 in The Alcalde:

Researchers Discover Why It's So Hard to Grow an Extra Finger

Researchers Discover Why It's So Hard to Grow an Extra Finger

The fact that most humans have five digits on each hand and foot is due in part to a complex developmental pathway called Hedgehog. If something goes wrong in this process during development, say a mutation in a critical gene that affects its expression, a person might be born with extra fingers or toes, a condition known as polydactyly. New research shows that for at least one part of the pathway, there is a sort of failsafe mechanism that seems to make it harder for mistakes to happen.

Back with a Vengeance: The Trouble with Defeating Diseases

Back with a Vengeance: The Trouble with Defeating Diseases

Scanning electron micrograph showing Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells (false-colored green) confined within a bacterial "lobster" trap. This work by Marvin Whiteley and Jason Shear (click on image to read more) allows researchers to study how communities of bacteria interact and develop infections.

A common practice millions of Americans partake in to stay healthy is actually doing much more harm than good and may be contributing to the spread of drug-resistant disease.

Researchers Discover Possible New Target to Attack Flu Virus

Researchers Discover Possible New Target to Attack Flu Virus

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a protein produced by the influenza A virus helps it outwit one of our body's natural defense mechanisms. That makes the protein a potentially good target for antiviral drugs directed against the influenza A virus.

Possible Explanation for Human Diseases Caused by Defective Ribosomes

Possible Explanation for Human Diseases Caused by Defective Ribosomes

Ribosomes are essential for life, generating all of the proteins required for cells to grow. Mutations in some of the proteins that make ribosomes cause disorders characterized by bone marrow failure and anemia early in life, followed by elevated cancer risk in middle age. These disorders are generally called “ribosomopathies.”

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You Are Your Microbiome

You Are Your Microbiome

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Have you ever felt not completely like yourself? You’re not alone. In fact, you’re never really alone. No matter how hard you may try, you’re always in the company of 100 trillion microbial friends.

This Longhorn Has Been Brought to You by DNA

This Longhorn Has Been Brought to You by DNA

In a set of two recent papers, Andy Ellington and his lab show how DNA can make pictures, but more importantly, that DNA circuits could someday be used to manufacture drugs or grow organs, such as a new heart.

Mammalian Body Cells Lack Ancient Viral Defense Mechanism, Find UT Scientists

Mammalian Body Cells Lack Ancient Viral Defense Mechanism, Find UT Scientists

A team led by Chris Sullivan, a professor of molecular biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, has provided the first positive evidence that RNA interference (RNAi), a biological process in which small RNA molecules prevent genes from being expressed, does not play a role as an antiviral in most body, or “somatic,” cells in mammals.

Creating a Social Network for Genes

Creating a Social Network for Genes

Computer scientist Inderjit Dhillon and biochemist Edward Marcotte are combining forces to create the first "social network" for genes, with a focus on finding genes associated with human diseases.  

Better Corn the Goal of $2.5 million Grant from the National Science Foundation

Better Corn the Goal of $2.5 million Grant from the National Science Foundation

Jeff Chen hopes to understand "hybrid vigor" in corn well enough to improve breeding.
Understanding Why Chronic Wounds Don't Heal

Understanding Why Chronic Wounds Don't Heal

The problem with chronic wounds, and the solution, may lie in the war between two bacteria, says Marvin Whitely.

Researchers Identify One of Alcohol’s Key Gateways to the Brain

Researchers Identify One of Alcohol’s Key Gateways to the Brain

Discovery is a significant step on the road to eventually developing drugs that could disrupt the interaction between alcohol and the brain.

What Real Scientific Controversy Looks Like


It is fun to be embroiled in an actual scientific controversy.

Engineering Algae to Make the "Wonder Material" Nanocellulose

Engineering Algae to Make the "Wonder Material" Nanocellulose

Genes from the family of bacteria that produce vinegar, Kombucha tea and nata de coco may help turn algae into solar-powered factories for producing nanocellulose.

Engineered Immune Cells Resist Infection from HIV and Could Ultimately Replace Drug Therapy

Engineered Immune Cells Resist Infection from HIV and Could Ultimately Replace Drug Therapy

Researchers cut and pasted a series of HIV-resistant genes into T cells, specialized immune cells targeted by the virus.