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.
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
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.
European researchers demonstrated that a low dose of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active substance of cannabis, profoundly reduced age-related cognitive impairment in mice. The drug increased behavioural performance and rejuvenated the elderly brain, closely resembling that of young, untreated animals.
US researchers just discovered a novel gene associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that compromises motor neuron function in mice and zebrafish. The UBQLN4 genetic variant impairs nerve development through the excessive accumulation of beta-catenin, a realization that opens a new window for targeted treatment of ALS.
The future of molecular diagnostics is looking particularly bright as international teams of researchers and entrepreneurs make profound headway in the development of disease-sensing instruments.