COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS

sea hare

Scientists Transferred Memories from One Snail to Another

Researchers from UCLA successfully transplanted memories by transferring RNA from one sea snail into another. They are one step closer to solving the puzzle of the physical basis of memory. In the long run, these findings could lead to treatments of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

neurons

Scientists Decode Brain Signals to Fight Chronic Disease

Researchers decoded specific signals the nervous system uses to communicate the body’s immune and inflammatory status to the brain. Understanding the “language” of the brain is a major step forward for bioelectronic medicine as it provides insight into diagnostic and therapeutic targets. The team hopes that future bioelectronic devices could replace drugs and reduce hamrful side effects.

embryo

Artificial Embryos Made From Stem Cells Initiate Pregnancy in Mice

Researchers from the Netherlands have found a way to “grow” artificial mouse blastocysts by combining different stem cells in a dish. The artificial embryos resemble natural ones so closely that, when transferred into a mouse’s uterus, they initiate pregnancy. They can easily be mass-produced and could serve as new models for drug development, possibly leading to infertility treatments and early interventions for other diseases.

mosquito malaria

Engineered Shrub Boosts Malaria Drug Artemisinin Yield

Researchers from China have modified an Artemisia annua genetic sequence to produce a higher level of a potent antimalarial compound, artemisinin. The group identified genes involved in making artemisinin in Artemisia annua and altered their activity to produce three times more drug than usual. Their work will help to meet the large global demand for artemisinin, which is also used to treat cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes.

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.

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