Category : MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND GENETICS

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.

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.

drinks

Scientists Develop “Fake Alcohol” That Gets You Buzzed But Never Drunk

Inventing a product that allows drinkers to enjoy all the benefits of alcohol and none of its drawbacks was a goal of scientist David Nutt for over a decade. He developed a synthetic alcohol substitute he calls Alcarelle, which could eliminate the downsides of alcohol consumption, from hangovers to alcohol-related cancers and even physical addiction.

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.

cannabis

Scientists Use GM Brewer’s Yeast to Produce THC and Other Cannabinoids

Researchers from the University of California have modified brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to manufacture cannabis compounds including the psychoactive chemical THC in a world’s first. This technology could soon provide researchers with cheaper, more efficient and reliable access to medicinal cannabis compounds that are found in trace amounts in nature.