The quote of the week comes from Robert Hazen’s Gen-ne-sis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origins (Page 25):
This lack of agreement [on a scientific definition of life] represents an obvious problem for those who search for signs of living organisms on other worlds, as well as for origin-of-life researchers. It is difficult to be sure that you’ve discovered life – or deduced the process of life’s origin, for that matter – when you can’t define what it is. In spite of generations of work by hundreds of thousands of biologists, in spite of countless studies of living organisms at every scale from molecules to continents, we still have no widely accepted definition.
Now, welcome to your (belated) weekly dose of cell and molecular biology. As always, I’ve selected all of the blogging commentary that I’ve seen, trying to keep the selection both topical and not mere reposting of press releases from jouranls and societies. The result, hopefully, is a short list of this week’s cyto-blogging:
Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)
And a few ScienceDaily picks below the fold:
Biologists Prove Critical Step In Membrane Fusion
Brown University biologists have, for the first time, observed a critical step in membrane fusion, the process that allows for fertilization, viral infection and nerve cell communication. The research, reported in Developmental Cell, sheds new light on this essential biological process.
Stroke is the first cause of permanent invalidity and the third cause of death in industrialized countries. Despite the recent advancements in the management of ischemic patients (early diagnosis, thrombolysis, stroke units and rehabilitation centers), stroke still represents a major and unresolved medical issue.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It protects against environmental influences and pathogens, regulates body temperature, and protects the body against dehydration. In humans, the skin renews itself completely approximately every month by constantly shedding the dead cells on the skin surface and replacing them with new cells which have moved up from the basal layer of the epidermis.
In the children’s game “red light green light,” winners are able to stop, and take off running again, more quickly than their comrades. New research reveals that a similar race goes on in our brains, with impulse control being the big winner.
Recent discoveries about the role of stem cells in cancer have altered the landscape of cancer research. With each new study, scientists are learning more about cancer-initiating properties of stem cells at organ sites and throughout the body. Increasingly, stem cells are examined as the cause — and potential target of treatment — for many, if not all, cancers.