Sperm concentration among men from Western countries declined by more than 50 percent in less than 40 years. There is a large decrease in sperm quality among men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand a study reports. The even more disturbing fact is that the decline doesn’t seem to be leveling off. If it continues or possibly even increases among men living in these countries, this will be a major problem for fertility and reproduction.
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
Snakebite at first glance does not seem to be a problem, which should concern a modern human. Despite numerous achievements in the field of pharmacology, it is however among the most neglected diseases of our era.
Grim statistics provided by the WHO (World Health Organisation) show that, each year, 5 million bites occur, leading to 150,000 deaths and a striking 400,000 amputations. The lucky ones who manage to avoid a deadly outcome of snakebite envenoming are often mentally and physically scarred for life.
A group of US and Canadian researchers conducted the largest-scale testing of folding stability for computationally designed proteins. More than 15,000 newly designed small proteins were tested for correlation between folding and function which resulted in significant protein modeling improvements.
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats) gene editing technology allows permanent modification of genes within organisms. It is considered a breakthrough in biotechnology ever since its discovery. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), led by Spanish researcher Guillermo Montoya, now went one step further. They discovered how Cpf1, a new type of molecular scissors, unzip and cleave DNA.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham discovered an unsettling link between a major mechanism of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and triclosan, a disinfectant commonly found in household cleaning products.
Consciousness has been defined as awareness, a person’s ability to experience and feel, an enigma that defies explanation. The nature of consciousness intrigued philosophers and psychologists for thousands of years. Modern neuroscience is giving some answers that could lighten the physical source of our consciousness and some promising fundamental theories are being established.
Since the Industrial Age fuel exhaustion caused air pollution. When smog accumulates in the air in high enough concentrations, people start to feel unpleasant consequences. According to the World Health Organization, in 2014, 92% of the world population was living in places where the air quality guidelines levels were not met. The situation is especially difficult in China, where citizens often use the word airpocalypse to describe living in the grey world of smog.
Scientists from the University Of Geneva (UNIGE) and the University of Basel have created artificial viruses that can be used to target cancer. This virus is fashioned to act as an alarm for the immune system and instigate killer T cells to fight the tumour.
Despite the advancement of new molecular biology techniques like ddPCR or RNAseq, quantitative PCR (qPCR) is still a golden standard for the quantification of nucleic acids, with applications in diagnostics and research. The method is based on real-time monitoring of amplification of the target DNA allowing its quantification (see basics). Yet, for the method to be quantitative, it has to be done properly.