COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS

laboratory

Researchers Speed Up Drug Discovery With New Zombie-Like Cells

Scientists from the
University of Alabama (UA) have invented a new and bizarre technique to
discover novel natural compounds in cells. It
involves human, “zombie-like” cells that are technically no longer alive but
their membranes continue to bind different and potentially useful compounds in
samples. This technique may allow scientists to screen natural products for
drugs at a faster pace.

coca-cola

Coca-Cola Backed Nutrition Research Holds Back Anti-Sugar Results

The Coca-Cola Company, one of the world’s largest producers of sugary beverages, has funded scientific research on fitness and public health at universities around the world. The newly-uncovered documents reveal that the money comes with strings attached. Five different funding agreements from universities show the company can prevent the results from going public, and has done so in the past. Similar concerns about conflicts of interest in commercially-funded research led to increasing funding disclosure requirements in science. However, researchers believe that this is probably not enough to assess the full extent of bias.

virus

Huge Study Finds “Zero Risk” Of HIV Transmission During Drug Treatment

Scientists hope an end to
the Aids epidemic could be in sight after eight years long study found men
whose HIV infection was fully suppressed by antiretroviral drugs had no chance
of infecting their partner. Not a single one of the HIV-negative men contracted
the virus from their partner. The success of the medicine is notable and raises
hope. If everyone with HIV were fully treated, there would be no further
infections.

pests

CRISPR Gene-Editing Has Opened Doors for Exotic Model Organisms

Scientists are trying to
move beyond conventional model organisms, like fruit flies, zebrafish, yeast,
and mice. They started using CRISPR gene-editing technology to craft new model
organisms or to study the animals that they are more interested in. The genetic alterations generally take hold
but the practical challenges of breeding and maintaining unconventional lab
animals persist.

HIV

Scientists Gene-Edited HIV to Cure “Bubble Boy” Disease

A new gene therapy approach developed at St.
Jude Children’s Research Hospital has cured infants born with X-linked
severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID-X1), known as “Bubble Boy” disease. The
patients recovered with fully functioning immune systems and started producing immune
cells, including T cells, B cells, and natural killer (NK) cells. The researchers
achieved that by hijacking the HIV virus to replace the mutated gene,
called IL2RG, with a corrected copy.

astronaut

Twin Study Shows That Genetic Changes Caused by Space Travel Are Temporary

American twin astronauts provided NASA scientists
with rare data on how long-term spaceflight affects the human body. While one
brother spent a record-setting 340 days in outer space, the other was stranded on Earth. They spent years under a
medical microscope. A comparative study on their genetic profiles showed
differences in length of telomeres and gene expression, which seemed to
diminish slowly over time.

web

Scientists Are Gene-Hacking Bacteria To Mass-Produce Spider Silk

Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis have
found a new method to genetically alter bacteria
and acquire super-strong spider silk. Farming spiders is incredibly inefficient and finding a way to
mass-produce the material would bring us a
step away from a ready supply of incredibly resilient fabrics.
The method could clear the way for the production
of other scarce proteins that could even be used
for future space missions.

DNA

WHO Panel Calls for Registry of Human Gene-Editing Projects

An advisory panel to the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the creation of a global registry to monitor gene-editing research in humans. The recommendations of the 18-person committee are aimed at improving transparency and responsibility in the field. An advisory committee did not recommend banning human gene-editing research, but researchers will have to register with the government before beginning an experiment.