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A new anti-cancer compound, PAC-1, spurs cell death in cancer cells while sparing healthy cells.

Cancer drug first tested in pet dogs begins human trials

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 26, 2015

A new drug that prompts cancer cells to self-destruct while sparing healthy cells is now entering phase I clinical trials in humans. The drug, called PAC-1, first showed promise in the treatment of pet dogs with spontaneously occurring cancers, and is still in clinical trials in dogs with osteosarcoma.

Published Date: February 26, 2015


Soil microbes known as rhizobia supply much-needed nitrogen to legumes such as clover (Trifolium species). In return, legumes shelter the rhizobia in nodules on their roots and provide them with carbon.

Long-term nitrogen fertilizer use disrupts plant-microbe mutualisms

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 23, 2015

When exposed to nitrogen fertilizer over a period of years, nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia evolve to become less beneficial to legumes – the plants they normally serve, researchers report in a new study.

Published Date: February 23, 2015


Working with international collaborators, Scientific Animations Without Borders created an Ebola prevention video that is now being distributed in Sierra Leone.Pictured,clockwise, from back left: Enrique Rebolledo, the program coordinator for the Sierra Leone/YMCA Partnership; U. of I. entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh; U. of I. YMCA communications director Megan Flowers; SAWBO staffer Anna Prez Sabater; and Julia Bello-Bravo, the assistant director of the Center for African Studies.

Animated videos bring Ebola education to West Africa

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 19, 2015

A group of international collaborators has found a way to deliver Ebola prevention information to people in every part of Sierra Leone - safely, and at negligible cost. The team is rolling out animated videos narrated in local languages that can be viewed on cell phones, tablets, computers and other digital devices.

Published Date: February 19, 2015


Soil was loaded onto Spanish galleons traveling from Acapulco, Mexico, to Manila, Philippines, in the 16th century. The soil, needed for ballast on empty vessels, likely also included tropical fire ants, researchers report. | Graphic credit Julie McMahon

Discovery: Tropical fire ants traveled the world on 16th century ships

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 18, 2015

Thanks to a bit of genetic sleuthing, researchers now know the invasion history of the tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata), the first ant species known to travel the globe by sea.

Published Date: February 18, 2015


The Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois will now bear the name of microbiology professor Carl R. Woese, who discovered a new domain of life. Woese died in 2012.

Institute for Genomic Biology renamed for professor Carl R. Woese

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 17, 2015

The University of Illinois’ Institute for Genomic Biology has been renamed in honor of a microbiology professor who changed the course of science with his discovery of a third major branch of the tree of life. That professor, Carl R. Woese, died in late 2012.

Published Date: February 17, 2015


University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Adrian Smith, right, and entomology professor Andrew Suarez found that ants are highly attuned to the chemical context of the hive.

Friend, foe or queen? Study highlights the complexities of ant perception

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 2, 2015

Researchers report that trap-jaw ants recognize the unique odor of a fertile queen only if the queen also shares the workers’ own chemical cologne – a distinctive blend of dozens of smelly, waxy compounds that coat the ants’ bodies from head to tarsus. The discovery offers new insights into how social animals evolved and communicate with others in their group, the researchers say.

Published Date: February 2, 2015