Researchers from the Netherlands have found a way to “grow” artificial mouse blastocysts by combining different stem cells in a dish. The artificial embryos resemble natural ones so closely that, when transferred into a mouse’s uterus, they initiate pregnancy. They can easily be mass-produced and could serve as new models for drug development, possibly leading to infertility treatments and early interventions for other diseases.
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
Researchers from China have modified an Artemisia annua genetic sequence to produce a higher level of a potent antimalarial compound, artemisinin. The group identified genes involved in making artemisinin in Artemisia annua and altered their activity to produce three times more drug than usual. Their work will help to meet the large global demand for artemisinin, which is also used to treat cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes.
New research suggests that some of the additives that extend the shelf life and improve the texture of processed foods may have harsh side effects on the human gut microbiome. The rise in deadly cases of a terrible gut infection caused by Clostridium difficile is the outcome of adding the sugar trehalose to almost all of our processed food.
The class of drugs currently prescribed to treat male erectile dysfunction has the potential to be repurposed for use in cancer treatment. Cancer specialists would like to prescribe existing medications like Viagra and Cialis since they are affordable and approved for use, thus save significant research money otherwise spent on expensive drug discovery.
Stanford University bioengineers have found a way to produce noscapine, a non-narcotic cough suppressant with potential anticancer properties, in brewer’s yeast. The researchers inserted 25 foreign genes into the yeast to turn it into an efficient factory for producing the drug that naturally occurs in opium poppy.
It is common knowledge that the venom from a snake or scorpion can be dangerous. Less known is the fact that several drugs are derived from the toxins of venomous animals. Throughout history, humans have used toxins for medical purposes. Today, modern medicine uses the vast amount of toxins as inspiration for developing novel drugs. Despite the potential of venom-derived drugs, only seven have been approved so far.
Commonly prescribed drugs called fluoroquinolones, the fourth-most used class of antibiotics in the US, have been shown to cause rare, disabling side effects. Patients have experienced pain in tendons, joints and muscles, neurological and psychological difficulties. Researchers now have a few theories why such symptoms may occur.
An international clinical study demonstrated astounding recovery of patients with multiple sclerosis after a stem cell transplant. Scientists claim these transplants are dramatically better than standard drugs at halting the spread of multiple sclerosis and improving its symptoms.
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.
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.