Author's posts

Nov 25 2015

Can antibiotic apocalypse be avoided?

Researchers from several Chinese, British and US universities announced that they have identified a new form of resistance, to colistin. They say they first perceived a colistin-resistant E. coli in 2013, in a pig from an intensive farm near Shanghai, and then noted increasing colistin resistance over several years. Colistin is a last-resort antibiotic used when …

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Nov 19 2015

DNA Reveals Mysterious Human Cousin

The analysis of a fossil tooth from Siberia reveals that a mysterious people known as Denisovans, discovered a mere five years ago, persisted for tens of thousands of years alongside modern humans and Neanderthals. In 2010, teams of geneticists and anthropologists led by Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology announced strange …

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Nov 11 2015

Trials in gene editing in humans about to begin in 2017

The biotechnology company Editas hopes to begin clinical trials using the latest gene editing technique on human subjects in 2017, according to the company’s CEO Katrine Bosley. The CRISPR/Cas system is a prokaryotic immune system that confers resistance to foreign genetic elements such as plasmids and phages, and provides a form of acquired immunity.

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Sep 29 2015

New genes arise from non-coding DNA

For most of the last 40 years, scientists thought that new genes simply arose from copies of existing genes. The old version went on doing its job, and the new copy became free to evolve novel functions. Certain genes, however, have no known relatives, and they bear no resemblance to any other gene. The mystery …

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Sep 29 2015

Tickborne diseases are increasing in range and in severity

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has redrawn its maps of Lyme disease, the disease most commonly carried by ticks, to display how rapidly risk of it is rising in the northeastern US: 260 hot-spot counties now, compared to 20 years ago.

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Jun 09 2015

Rat Limb Was Grown in the Lab

A team of researchers from the Ott Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital MGH grew the world’s first bioengineered rat limb. Bioartificial limbs might someday be suitable for transplantation. Bioengineering techniques have been used previously to grow individual organs like hearts and lungs. But the researchers have been able to grow a whole animal limb.

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May 28 2015

Fungus that is killing bats may have met its match

A bacterium known to slow fruit ripening shows promise at slowing down white-nose syndrome—a lethal disease of bats. The treatment is based on a bacterium that inhibits fungal growth, and was originally studied to see if it could slow the ripening of fruits and vegetables. Researchers are in their second year of trials with little …

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May 27 2015

RNA interference helps fight bee-killing mites

Can the world’s most important pollinators be saved? Scientists and breeders are trying to create a hardier honeybee. Most have concluded colony collapse is not a single problem, as first thought, but a lethal amalgamation of pests, pathogens, habitat loss, and toxic chemicals; varroa mites are a critical component. Most large-scale beekeepers now use pesticides …

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May 26 2015

Self-healing concrete containing bacteria

An invention by Delft University microbiologist Hendrik Jonkers offers an innovative approach to creating more stable concrete by adding limestone-producing bacteria to the mix. This self-healing bioconcrete aims to provide a cheap and sustainable solution, markedly improving the lifespan of buildings, bridges and roads. Thinking about the how bones in the human body are healed …

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May 20 2015

Vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually-transmitted virus infecting the skin and mucosal tissues. From a structural perspective, HPV is a highly unstable virus and impossible to mass-produce in the laboratory. Therefore, a vaccine based on live viral elements was not feasible. Instead, Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou at the University of Queensland, Australia, devised the …

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