COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS

poppy

Yeast Bioengineered to Produce Poppy-Based Medicine

Stanford University bioengineers have found a way to produce noscapine, a non-narcotic cough suppressant with potential anticancer properties, in brewer’s yeast. The researchers inserted 25 foreign genes into the yeast to turn it into an efficient factory for producing the drug that naturally occurs in opium poppy.

Snake venom

Venoms That Save Lives

It is common knowledge that the venom from a snake or scorpion can be dangerous. Less known is the fact that several drugs are derived from the toxins of venomous animals. Throughout history, humans have used toxins for medical purposes. Today, modern medicine uses the vast amount of toxins as inspiration for developing novel drugs. Despite the potential of venom-derived drugs, only seven have been approved so far.

antibiotic

When a Popular Class of Antibiotics Turns Toxic

Commonly prescribed drugs called fluoroquinolones, the fourth-most used class of antibiotics in the US, have been shown to cause rare, disabling side effects. Patients have experienced pain in tendons, joints and muscles, neurological and psychological difficulties. Researchers now have a few theories why such symptoms may occur.

CRISPR gene scissors

CRISPR/Cas Armed with Enzyme That Controls Translation

CRISPR/Cas systems are best known as “gene scissors” for correcting genetic defects. Precise targeting of specific regions in DNA of plants, animals, and microorganisms is the reason CRISPR recently became a favorite tool of many researchers. Now, a group from the University of Freiburg identified an enzyme which assists the CRISPR/Cas system in correctly regulating translation.

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