Nov 25 2015
Nov 19 2015
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 DNA sequences recovered from a finger bone and molar found in the remote Denisova cave, in Siberia’s Altai Mountains. Continue reading
Nov 11 2015
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. Continue reading
Sep 29 2015
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 of where these orphan genes came from has puzzled scientists for decades. But in the past few years, a once-heretical explanation has quickly gained momentum — that many of these orphans arose out of so-called junk DNA, or non-coding DNA.
Sep 29 2015
Jun 09 2015
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. Continue reading
May 28 2015
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 brown bats and Northern long-eared bats, and the results look promising. Continue reading
May 27 2015
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 to kill the mites—a stopgap solution, at best. Continue reading
May 26 2015
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 naturally through mineralisation from osteoblast cells, Jonkers set about creating a similar self-regeneration technique for our most widely used construction material.
May 20 2015