COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS

DNA

Scientists Squeeze Entire Yeast Genome into Just One Chromosome

Two separate research groups used CRISPR gene editing to fuse entire sets of brewer’s yeast chromosomes together, resulting in two strains with just one and two chromosomes. Surprisingly, the changes had little effect on most functions of the yeast. Their findings could be monumental to the study of chromosomes and why their numbers vary from species to species.

plant wall

Houseplants Could One Day Monitor Your Home Health

Researchers from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture presented a concept of houseplants as aesthetically pleasing and functional alarm systems of home health. They have effectively connected two seemingly unrelated disciplines – plant sciences and architectural design. Genetically engineered houseplants could detect viruses, such as influenza virus, odors, and other volatile organic compounds that plants can “inhale” through their leaves.

Alzheimer's

Big Data Analysis Links Herpes Viruses with Alzheimer’s

Researchers from Arizona State University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Indiana University made a large-scale analysis and used data from three different brain banks. They concluded that human herpes viruses are more abundant in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and may play a role in regulatory genetic networks believed to be behind the onset of the disease. New possibilities for Alzheimer’s treatment, such as antiviral and immune therapy, are now open.

Contraceptive pills

Why Is a Male Birth Control Pill Not Around Yet?

Men are still limited to only a few forms of birth control. Scientists are making constant progress but the birth control pill or any other hormonal contraceptives for men are still years away from being safe, reversible, and broadly available. In the past, low demand and focus on women contraceptives partly limited development. Now, more and more men want to take control over their own fertility.

Woman protesting

Understanding the Biological Bases of Political Orientations and Belief Systems

Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of an organism to study is its brain, as it can be thought to be at the core of identity. The brain allows for complex functions such as memory and associations to exist. Evolutionarily, this has allowed for social interactions to form the basis of groups and eventually allow for large numbers of individuals to live together in communities.

bacteria

Bacteria “Harpoon” DNA To Speed Up Their Evolution

Researchers from Indiana University (IU) have made the first direct visual observation of bacteria taking up foreign DNA from its surrounding. It is a key step in their process of rapidly evolving new traits, including troublesome drug resistance. The new methods developed by the researchers provided them with the ability to catch this mechanism on film.

synthetic tissues

Synthetic Tissues That Build Themselves

Researchers from the University of California have programmed synthetic cells to mobilize nearby natural cells into complex structures. At first, individual cells self-organized into multi-layered structures resembling simple organisms or the tissues from the first stages of embryonic development. The technology could have a bright future in repairing damaged tissue or re-growing injured organs.

3D printing

3D-Printed Sugar Structures Could Help Grow Organs

Engineers from the University of Illinois built a 3D printer that produces a delicate network of thin ribbons of hardened sugar alcohol, isomalt. These detailed biological structures are water-soluble, biodegradable glassy structures that could have multiple applications in biomedical engineering, cancer research, and device manufacturing.