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.
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
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.
Scientists hope an end to
the Aids epidemic could be in sight after eight years long study found men
whose HIV infection was fully suppressed by antiretroviral drugs had no chance
of infecting their partner. Not a single one of the HIV-negative men contracted
the virus from their partner. The success of the medicine is notable and raises
hope. If everyone with HIV were fully treated, there would be no further
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
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.
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.
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.