Skip to main content

Posts

CRISPR Editing of Human Embryos Approved in the U.K.

Preserving the distinction between research purposes and clinical applications, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), a U.K. regulatory body, has approved the use of CRISPR gene editing on human embryos. The HFEA indicated that its approval was specific to an application tendered by researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, who could begin their work “within the next few months,” provided they also secure the approval of a local ethics body.

The Crick’s research, which will be led by Kathy Niakan, Ph.D., is aimed at understanding the genes human embryos need to develop successfully. Details of the prop
osed work appeared in September 2015, when the Crick researchers submitted their application to the HFEA.

"To provide further fundamental insights into early human development, we are proposing to test the function of genes using gene editing and transfection approaches that are currently permitted under the HFE Act 2008,” said Dr. Niakan at the time. “We also…
Recent posts

Neuroscientists decode the brain activity of the worm

Head of a roundworm whose nerve cells have been genetically modified to glow under the microscope. Credit: Image courtesy of Research Institute of Molecular Pathology
Manuel Zimmer and his team at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) present new findings on the brain activity of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. The scientists were able to show that brain cells (neurons), organized in a brain-wide network, albeit exerting different functions, coordinate with each other in a collective manner. They could also directly link these coordinated activities in the worm's brain to the processes that generate behavior. The results of the study are presented in the current issue of the journal Cell.

One of the major goals of neuroscience is to unravel how the brain functions in its entirety and how it generates behavior. The biggest challenge in solving this puzzle is represented by the sheer complexity of nervous systems. A mouse brain, for example, consists of millions o…

Deep-sea bacteria could help neutralize greenhouse gas!!

Deep-sea bacteria could help neutralize greenhouse gas. Credit: Image courtesy of University of Florida
A type of bacteria plucked from the bottom of the ocean could be put to work neutralizing large amounts of industrial carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, a group of University of Florida researchers has found.
Carbon dioxide, a major contributor to the buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases, can be captured and neutralized in a process known as sequestration. Most atmospheric carbon dioxide is produced from fossil fuel combustion, a waste known as flue gas. But converting the carbon dioxide into a harmless compound requires a durable, heat-tolerant enzyme. That’s where the bacterium studied by UF Health researchers comes into play. The bacterium -- Thiomicrospira crunogena -- produces carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that helps remove carbon dioxide in organisms.

So what makes the deep-sea bacterium so attractive? It lives near hydrothermal vents, so the enzyme it produces is accu…

Probable Biomarker for Premature Death

This schematic summarizes an investigation of the biology of GlycA, a known biomarker for short-term mortality. They reveal GlycA's long-term behavior in apparently healthy patients: it is stable for >10 years and associated with chronic low-grade inflammation. Accordingly, GlycA predicts death from infection up to 14 years in the future. Credit: Ritchie et al./Cell Systems 2015
A single blood test could reveal whether an otherwise healthy person is unusually likely to die of pneumonia or sepsis within the next 14 years. Based on an analysis of 10,000 individuals, researchers have identified a molecular byproduct of inflammation, called GlycA, which seems to predict premature death due to infections.

The findings, published October 22 in Cell Systems, suggest that high GlycA levels in the blood indicate a state of chronic inflammation that may arise from low-level chronic infection or an overactive immune response. That inflammation damages the body, which likely renders individu…

Antioxidant use may promote spread of cancer

Picture source: dailymail.co.uk Metastasis, the process by which cancer cells disseminate from their primary site to other parts of the body, leads to the death of most cancer patients. New research suggests that when antioxidants were administered to lab mice, their cancer spread more quickly than in mice that did not get antioxidants.
A team of scientists at the Children's Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has made a discovery that suggests cancer cells benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells, raising concerns about the use of dietary antioxidants by patients with cancer. The studies were conducted in specialized mice that had been transplanted with melanoma cells from patients. Prior studies had shown that the metastasis of human melanoma cells in these mice is predictive of their metastasis in patients.
Metastasis, the process by which cancer cells disseminate from their primary site to other parts of the body, leads to the death of most cancer patients. The …

Deep sea methane metabolizing organism discovered

The production and consumption of methane by microorganisms play a major role in the global carbon cycle. Although these processes can occur in a range of environments, from animal guts to the deep ocean, these metabolisms are confined to the Archaea. Evans et al. used metagenomics to assemble two nearly complete archaeal genomes from deep groundwater methanogens (see the Perspective by Lloyd). The two reconstructed genomes are members of the recently described Bathyarchaeota and not the phylum to which all previously known methane-metabolizing archaea belonged.

Textbooks on methane-metabolising organisms might have to be rewritten after researchers in a University of Queensland-led international project on 23 October announced the discovery of two new organisms.
Deputy Head of UQ's Australian Centre for Ecogenomics in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Associate Professor Gene Tyson said these new organisms played an unknown role in greenhouse gas emissions and con…

Cellular damage control system helps plants tough it out

Plants Naturally Recycle Chloroplasts
In plants, chloroplasts can accumulate high levels of toxic singlet oxygen, a reactive oxygen species formed during photosynthesis. In these cells, most of the chloroplasts (green organelles) and mitochondria (red organelles) appear healthy. However, the chloroplast in the top left of the image is being selectively degraded and is interacting with the central vacuole (blue). Salk scientists reveal how this strategy to degrade singlet oxygen-damaged chloroplasts may help a cell avoid any further oxidative damage during photosynthesis. Credit: Salk Institute As food demands rise to unprecedented levels, farmers are in a race against time to grow plants that can withstand environmental challenges--infestation, climate change and more. Now, new research at the Salk Institute, published in Science on October 23, 2015, reveals details into a fundamental mechanism of how plants manage their energy intake, which could potentially be harnessed to improve yi…