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SCIENCE
April 20, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
DNA and RNA molecules are the basis for all life on Earth, but they don't necessarily have to be the basis for all life everywhere, scientists have shown. Researchers at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, England, demonstrated that six synthetic molecules that are similar to - but not exactly like - DNA and RNA have the potential to exhibit "hallmarks of life" such as storing genetic information, passing it along and undergoing evolution. The man-made molecules are called "XNAs.
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SCIENCE
January 21, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
A rapidly mutating virus has leaped from plants to honeybees, where it is reproducing and contributing to the collapse of colonies vital to the multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, according to a new study. Tobacco ringspot virus, a pollen-borne pathogen that causes blight in soy crops, was found during routine screening of commercial honeybees at a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory, where further study revealed the RNA virus was replicating inside its Apis mellifera hosts and spreading to mites that travel from bee to bee, according to the study published online Tuesday in the journal mBio.
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SCIENCE
May 20, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
How did we go from a lifeless Earth with no oxygen to a planet teeming with life and that essential element? Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found one crucial clue: iron and RNA. The team managed to re-create conditions of life on Earth 3 billion years ago and"revived" a function of RNA that may have subsided after the rise of DNA. Life as we know it depends on the precise interplay of DNA, the double-helix molecular structure...
SPORTS
December 7, 2013 | By Paresh Dave
Authorities can test a driver's blood to see if the person's mind is too impaired by alcohol to hit the road. But sports officials lack a similar test to check when a football player is too concussed to be on the field. Arizona State players, in action Saturday night against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship, have been season-long guinea pigs in an effort to develop a test. The blood, saliva and urine of 36 players has been regularly collected since the preseason. All of the players, most of whom are starters, volunteered.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 1, 1991 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
How did life originate in the pre-biotic world? Many scientists now envision a so-called RNA world in which life's immediate precursors were strands of self-reproducing RNA, or ribonucleic acid, a DNA-like material that cells now use as a working blueprint in producing proteins. The problem has been that no one has ever seen RNA that could replicate itself--at least until now. Molecular biologist Jennifer A.
NEWS
March 9, 1990 | THOMAS H. MAUGH II, TIMES SCIENCE WRITER
An innovative "molecular scissors" that interferes with the infection of cells by the AIDS virus has been developed by researchers at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte. Molecular geneticist John J. Rossi and his colleagues report today in the journal Science that they have used a specially prepared form of RNA (ribonucleic acid) to create the scissors, which snips apart the virus' own RNA before it can be used as a blueprint for replication of the virus.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 31, 2007 | Jia-Rui Chong and Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writers
Leslie Orgel, the Salk Institute theoretical chemist who was the father of the RNA world theory of the origin of life and who joined with Nobel laureate Francis Crick to postulate that life might have been seeded on Earth by a higher intelligence, died at the San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care on Oct. 27 from pancreatic cancer. He was 80. Reasoning that DNA was too complex to have been the first repository of genetic information, Orgel and others speculated that RNA could have preceded it, simplifying the evolutionary process.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 24, 2013 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Special to the Los Angeles Times
When James Watson and Francis Crick deciphered the structure of DNA in 1953, their discovery answered a crucial question in biology: How is genetic information passed down from parent to child? Their work also created conundrums, however. They and others showed that every cell of an organism contains all of its genetic material. How, then, does an individual cell know which genes to use and when? And how does information from DNA get to the cell's protein-making machinery? The seminal insight into those questions came from three biologists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris - Dr. Francois Jacob, Jacques Monod and Andre Lwoff.
NEWS
July 9, 2012 | By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times
Sunburn is painful.  What goes on in the skin when you get it, and could the cascade somehow be stopped? Should it be stopped? A group of scientists have figured out (at least in part) why overexposure to UV light makes our skin get sore, red and swollen. Reporting in the journal Nature Medicine , they showed in a set of experiments that exposure to UV-B rays damages a tiny molecule inside skin cells -- a little piece of RNA with no known function. The damage alters that little RNA's shape, and the sunburn cascade begins.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 19, 2009 | Thomas H. Maugh II
Most scientists are fortunate if they can make one major discovery in their lifetime. Dr. Paul Zamecnik made two, each of which should have won him a Nobel Prize. Working with Dr. Mahlon Hoagland, he discovered transfer RNA, a crucial molecule in the synthesis of proteins in the cell. Later, he invented the idea of antisense therapy, in which strands of DNA or RNA are used to block the activity of genes -- a concept that is now being turned into a new class of drugs for cancer, HIV and a host of other diseases.
SCIENCE
August 29, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
Did life as we know it start on Mars? Are we all Martians? These are the questions some serious scientists are considering. Speaking at an international conference of geochemists, chemist Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology argued Thursday that early Mars provided a more hospitable environment for life to spring up than early Earth. "The evidence seems to be building that we are actually Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," he said in a statement.
SCIENCE
May 20, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
How did we go from a lifeless Earth with no oxygen to a planet teeming with life and that essential element? Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found one crucial clue: iron and RNA. The team managed to re-create conditions of life on Earth 3 billion years ago and"revived" a function of RNA that may have subsided after the rise of DNA. Life as we know it depends on the precise interplay of DNA, the double-helix molecular structure...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 24, 2013 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Special to the Los Angeles Times
When James Watson and Francis Crick deciphered the structure of DNA in 1953, their discovery answered a crucial question in biology: How is genetic information passed down from parent to child? Their work also created conundrums, however. They and others showed that every cell of an organism contains all of its genetic material. How, then, does an individual cell know which genes to use and when? And how does information from DNA get to the cell's protein-making machinery? The seminal insight into those questions came from three biologists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris - Dr. Francois Jacob, Jacques Monod and Andre Lwoff.
NEWS
July 9, 2012 | By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times
Sunburn is painful.  What goes on in the skin when you get it, and could the cascade somehow be stopped? Should it be stopped? A group of scientists have figured out (at least in part) why overexposure to UV light makes our skin get sore, red and swollen. Reporting in the journal Nature Medicine , they showed in a set of experiments that exposure to UV-B rays damages a tiny molecule inside skin cells -- a little piece of RNA with no known function. The damage alters that little RNA's shape, and the sunburn cascade begins.
SCIENCE
April 20, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
DNA and RNA molecules are the basis for all life on Earth, but they don't necessarily have to be the basis for all life everywhere, scientists have shown. Researchers at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, England, demonstrated that six synthetic molecules that are similar to - but not exactly like - DNA and RNA have the potential to exhibit "hallmarks of life" such as storing genetic information, passing it along and undergoing evolution. The man-made molecules are called "XNAs.
SCIENCE
April 3, 2010 | By Amina Khan
Influenza has for years ravaged domesticated chickens. Now scientists suggest that a small piece of duck DNA might protect the farm birds against the virus -- saving commercial flocks and lessening the possibility that humans could be exposed to dangerous strains of the disease. In a study published online last month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said they had found that a key influenza-fighting gene in wild ducks is absent in chickens. Genetically modifying chickens with a copy of that gene might render them resistant to influenza A, the most common flu infecting humans, the authors said.
SCIENCE
August 29, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
Did life as we know it start on Mars? Are we all Martians? These are the questions some serious scientists are considering. Speaking at an international conference of geochemists, chemist Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology argued Thursday that early Mars provided a more hospitable environment for life to spring up than early Earth. "The evidence seems to be building that we are actually Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," he said in a statement.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 27, 1990 | DENISE HAMILTON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Tessa Walters was only 14 the summer she worked at Caltech, doing research on the virus that causes AIDS. She was only 15 when she discovered an amino acid compound that her mentor scientist at Caltech says could eventually help prevent high blood pressure. Now 16, the San Gabriel High School student recently swept first place in biology competitions in county, state, national and international science fairs. She also won a $10,000 scholarship and an award from the California Assn.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 19, 2009 | Thomas H. Maugh II
Most scientists are fortunate if they can make one major discovery in their lifetime. Dr. Paul Zamecnik made two, each of which should have won him a Nobel Prize. Working with Dr. Mahlon Hoagland, he discovered transfer RNA, a crucial molecule in the synthesis of proteins in the cell. Later, he invented the idea of antisense therapy, in which strands of DNA or RNA are used to block the activity of genes -- a concept that is now being turned into a new class of drugs for cancer, HIV and a host of other diseases.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 31, 2007 | Jia-Rui Chong and Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writers
Leslie Orgel, the Salk Institute theoretical chemist who was the father of the RNA world theory of the origin of life and who joined with Nobel laureate Francis Crick to postulate that life might have been seeded on Earth by a higher intelligence, died at the San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care on Oct. 27 from pancreatic cancer. He was 80. Reasoning that DNA was too complex to have been the first repository of genetic information, Orgel and others speculated that RNA could have preceded it, simplifying the evolutionary process.
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