Viruses, small infectious agents that replicate only inside the living cells of other organisms, have been around for billions of years. They can infect all types of life forms, from microorganisms, plants and animals to humans. It has been estimated that there are 10 to the power of 31 viruses on Earth, but humans don’t just live in a viral world, we are also part virus ourselves. Viruses actually comprise up to the 8% of the human genome and these so called endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) represent ancient viral infections that became integrated into the human genome.
The combination of drug misuse, reductions in antimicrobial research by the pharmaceutical industry, and the rapid evolution capabilities of microorganisms has resulted in pathogenic bacteria with stronger and stronger drug resistance. This is an issue that some fear if not handled correctly, could lead to the evolution of a “superbug” that is resistant to everything in our arsenal.
Zika virus has rapidly expanded during the last year in Brazil and currently the outbreaks are occurring in several countries and territories. While following preventive measures is extremely important to limit the spread, finding a reliable field diagnostic test is equally important. And it looks like we got one!
One of the hottest trends in life sciences research for the past few years has been the development of subfields of study focused on specific, complex networks within biological systems. These subfields are quite recognizable due to the common suffix ‘-ome’, and there is now an exciting and extensive list of “omes” starting with arguably the grandfather of them all, the genome.
Extraction of DNA before its amplification is an essential step for the measurement of any DNA target. It releases the DNA and removes substances inhibitory to PCR that are initially present in the matrix.
Metabolic studies investigating the mechanics of cancer cell proliferation have been critical to understanding resource allocation driving tumorigenesis. Generally, proliferating cells eschew efficient energy production in favour of metabolic pathways that generate the essential macromolecular building blocks necessary to grow in size and number, classically termed the Warburg effect.
There are approximately 140 000 species of higher fungi. Only 10% of mushroom-forming species are known, making them an enormous untapped pool of potentially useful substances.
Since we live in the digital era, why shouldn’t a popular method like PCR go digital as well? What is digital PCR (dPCR) and how it is different in comparison to PCR and qPCR, has been explained in the webinar “Why go Digital in qPCR”.
A leader in genetic sequencing is betting that it can detect cancer at its earliest stages on the basis of minuscule amounts of genetic material circulating in a person’s bloodstream. But specialists warn that there are many technical hurdles to such an application.
Advances in gene editing technology have spurred considerable progress towards a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Although the disease is rare – affecting roughly 1 in 5,000 male births – its consequences are devastating: patients are confined to wheelchairs at an early age and often succumb to heart or respiratory failure in their twenties or thirties.