New research reveals genetic mysteries behind synesthesia – a condition in which different senses seem to be crossed up in the brain, causing a person to “taste” words or even “feel” numbers. The phenomenon has been intriguing neuroscientists for years and this research could unlock new doors to understanding how our brains process sensory input.
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
An estimated 600,000 to 800,000 viral species could jump from animals to humans. Scientists are joining the Global Virome Project initiative in hope of identifying new potential pathogens and countering them before they become the next pandemic. This move from a reactive to a proactive approach aims to provide a safer future for all.
Research at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston showed that four viruses found in fish produce proteins similar to human hormones and react with cells similarly to insulin. The discovery suggests that micro-organisms could play a role in development of diabetes, as well as other autoimmune diseases and cancer.
Epidemics have plagued human populations for thousands of years, but there are very few clues as to what pathogens may have caused massive epidemics in the past. Scientists are using new techniques to extract and analyze ancient DNA, and what they have found may give us information about how things happened nearly 500 years ago.
CRISPR/Cas systems are best known as “gene scissors” for correcting genetic defects. Precise targeting of specific regions in DNA of plants, animals, and microorganisms is the reason CRISPR recently became a favorite tool of many researchers. Now, a group from the University of Freiburg identified an enzyme which assists the CRISPR/Cas system in correctly regulating translation.
Scientists from Duke University discovered that DNA contains a “built-in timer” that clocks the frequency with which mutations occur. Their research shows that DNA bases can change shape within a thousandth of a second, allowing them to temporarily morph into alternative states.
A team of researchers decoded the entire genetic information of the salamander axolotl. It is the largest genome ever to be sequenced. The “Mexican walking fish” could provide us with the foundation for novel insights into human tissue regeneration capacities.
Scientists from Stanford published new data that could influence the clinical use of CRISPR/Cas9 in the future. Humans carry antibodies and T-cells that target the Cas9 protein and might possess an inherent immunity, indicating that one of the biggest advances in genetic engineering should be observed from an additional angle.
Scientists are unraveling evolutionary mysteries behind the world of spider vision. New findings could provide new gene therapies for people with visual defects like macular degeneration and retinal cancer.
Fractures typically mended with metal plates and screws could be replaced with 3D printed ceramic implants in the future. This means that treating severely broken bones could become less painful and more “natural”. The best feature of the new technology is that the implant gradually disappears and transforms into actual bone.