Gene drives are capable of altering genomes of entire animal populations by passing down mutations through generations faster than natural inheritance. The main goal of using them is to defeat diseases, control pests and speed up lab work. Self-destructing mosquitoes and sterilized rodents are in the center of interest. However, recent advancements raise concerns about unleashing this powerful technology with no clear ecological consequences
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
Researchers from China’s
Soochow University have developed a new molecular “claw” that hooks onto toxic uranium
isotopes, making them easier for the kidneys to excrete. If proven functional
in humans, it would represent the first effective way for quickly removing the
heavy metal from a person’s body. The method could prove vital in areas with contaminated
groundwater and for the unfortunate ones who drink it.
A new study identified the species of bacteria in the human
infant gut that protect against food allergies. A resulting oral therapy in
mice has replenished the “good” bacteria, prevented food allergies from forming
and even suppressed some pre-existing diseases. Contrary to the current therapies,
it has the potential to treat food allergies at a much broader scope.
Researchers from the
University of Central Florida have found a molecular connection
between a common food preservative in processed foods, neuronal disruption, and
autism. These findings suggest that there
may be a link between the consumption of processed foods during pregnancy and
the rise of autism.
Scientists from the University
of British Columbia (UBC) have found a way to nearly double the amount
of universal donor blood available. They discovered microbes in the human gut that produce
two enzymes which efficiently strip type A blood of its antigens, transforming
it into type O. This process could ease blood shortages and revolutionize blood
donation and transfusion.
A new study has confirmed that the human body is, in fact, a complex mosaic made up of clusters of cells with different genomes. The largest such study to date compiles data from thousands of samples collected from about 500 people and 29 different types of tissue. Scientists say that “normal” human tissues are permeated with mutations and many cells in the body bear mutations that could contribute to cancer. These findings could help scientists better understand how cancer starts.
The human body and its cells have several different mechanisms for protecting its essential parts and expressing all the indicators that shape every individual in unique ways. Telomeres play a lead role in that process, ensuring our genetic blueprints remain intact, but even they have a limit. With the rise of genetic engineering, researchers have found a way to extend the lifespan of telomeres and delay senescence and onset of disease.
Stress, “the silent
killer” of the modern age, could finally become simple to detect and
quantify. Researchers from the University
of Cincinnati (UC) have developed a new test that can easily measure common
stress hormones using sweat, blood, urine or saliva. The aim is to eventually
have an accessible device that patients can use at home to monitor their
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.
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.