Scientists from the University of Alabama (UA) have invented a new and bizarre technique to discover novel natural compounds in cells. It involves human, “zombie-like” cells that are technically no longer alive but their membranes continue to bind different and potentially useful compounds in samples. This technique may allow scientists to screen natural products for drugs at a faster pace.
Researchers have taken an interest in a euphorbia plant growing in Marocco as a possible painkiller. The plant’s active ingredient, resiniferatoxin (RTX), is extremely spicy, a 10,000 times hotter than the world’s hottest pepper. RTX is a potent analog of capsaicin, the active ingredient in chilli peppers, and has numerous benefits over existing painkillers. It doesn’t require frequent dosing, targets only the areas causing pain, and doesn’t produce a potentially addictive high. All this makes it a promising candidate for the clinics.
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.
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.
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.
Micronutrient deficiency is a global health problem that concerns nearly 2 billion people worldwide. Researchers developed a promising approach that could greatly improve the nutritional quality of agricultural crops, by modifying multiple nutritional traits in a single rice variety for the very first time.
The molecular mechanisms that cause rare species of mushrooms to glow in the dark have baffled scientists for years. A new study set to finally uncover the mystery behind their bioluminescence revealed that it is in fact based on luciferin oxidation, the same chemical process used by fireflies.
A new clinical study showed that cannabidiol, a common compound found in cannabis, could help reduce seizures in epilepsy patients by more than 40 percent. The 14 weeks treatment proved very beneficial both in adults and children suffering from severe epilepsy known as LGS.
Researchers at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) have discovered that stevia stimulates a protein that is essential for our perception of taste and is involved in the release of insulin after a meal. These results create new possibilities for the treatment of diabetes.