COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS

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.

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.

rupees

India’s New Pay-per-Paper Proposal Sparks Controversy

Indian researchers are criticizing a government proposal by which graduate
students who publish in select journals
will be paid extra money. Such a practice
could degrade the quality of research and increase scientific misconduct,
critics say. Months-long protests of academics against the proposal have just concluded
in India and new ones are already on the
horizon.