GenScript's Ph.D. Technical Writers bring you their top picks from current life science news and recent peer-reviewed publications. You can follow our Gene News and Antibody News pages or just check back here for the best of the best, updated weekly.

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A New Test May Show Whether Your Immune System Can Neutralize The Coronavirus

Figure from ForbesMedia LLC [article]

 

GenScript, a leading life sciences company, has a new antibody test that could raise the standard for testing and give us clearer insights on how to fight the coronavirus. Today, in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, GenScript describes early results from the test, which targets specialized virus-thwarting antibodies known as neutralizing antibodies. The results suggest we can rethink our understanding of long term immunity to Covid, and offers hope for the effectiveness of a future vaccine.

Reference: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johncumbers/2020/07/24/a-new-test-shows-whether-your-immune-system-can-neutralize-the-coronavirus/#5303f8873524

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Gender affects protein machineries more than we expected

 

By analyzing 11 large public datasets, scientists from EMBL Heidelberg found that animals' proteome is greatly affected by sex and diet. Until now, only a few proteins have been known to be up-regulated or down-regulated depending on an animal's genetic sex or diet. But the results from this study shows that a large proportion of protein-type variation (about 12%) is determined by gender sex and diet. The proteotype, or individual proteome, reflects not only genetic factors but also environmental factors, providing life-style-associated fingerprints in individuals. Although more studies with other datasets looking for other factors are expected to follow this study, attention to understanding which cellular alterations in a diseased individual can be potentially reversed by changing life-style or which treatment works best in a gender can direct us towards more efficient diagnosis and therapies in the future.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190425115628.htm

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Are you sure you're eating at the right time

 

Circadian rhythm or body clock functions in every cell of our body and its disruption has been known to increase the incidence of many diseases. With plenty of clock disruptors in our modern society, ranging from shift-work to sleep deprivation and jet lag, we need to figure out ways to minimize their effects. In other words, knowing the molecular mechanism behind the way the body clock senses and responds to the timing of meals can help us fight off the detrimental effects of clock disruptors. With this goal in mind, a group of researchers recently published the results of a comprehensive set of in vitro and in vivo results in the journal Cell, identifying a key target molecule. The group identified insulin as a primary signal that is released when we eat to help adjust the cellular clocks located across our body. According to this data, eating at the wrong time affects insulin secretion and hence, can have a significant impact on the body clock. While we already knew that what we eat is important, but now we know that when we eat is even more important. This finding can now help us determine the best time to eat or take drugs that would target insulin signals. It also helps with the development of medical of interventions to ward off or prevent the deleterious effects of clock disruptors.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190425143607.htm

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How to bridge the gap between law and technology in medical DNA sequencing

 

DNA testing is the next world-changing technology where genetic information can predict disease formation and treatment success. In spite of such great promises, the typical legal standard of care is no longer applicable and needs an overhaul. Health care providers are now facing serious questions about the legal risks associated with using genomics in clinical settings. In fact, some patients have already filed lawsuits, but the majority of judgements failed to refer to any source discussing the standard of care. This suggests a disconnect that leaves health care providers vulnerable. To address this eminent issue, a national team called LawSeq is going to lead the efforts to translate genomics into clinical application. Funded by $2 million from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health, this team aims to "build a searchable online database of relevant law and an annotated bibliography for free public access, systematically collect and analyze a range of stakeholder inputs, convene a national public conference, and publish analyses and recommendations to help shape the law to support genomic medicine." It is expected that the outcome of this collective effort would push the legal world to catch up to science.

Reference: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/medical-dna-sequencing-leads-lawsuits-and-legal-questions

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First birth after robot-assisted uterus transplant

 

Using the latest uterine transplantation technique, the first baby, weighing 2900 grams, was born in Sweden. The baby boy was conceived through IVF and delivered with a planned cesarean delivery (C-section). As part of the "Robot Project", uterus from the donor was removed by robot-guided keyhole surgery and then transferred to the recipient. In this approach, one-centimeter incisions were made in the donor abdomen and then robotic arms holding the surgical instruments and guided by two surgeons sitting a few meters away, with a joystick-like tool and magnified 3D screen image, removed the uterus. This method is considered to be less invasive for the donor and future plans are underway to fully automate the whole procedure.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190409093810.htm

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Food or supplements: which nutrient source keeps you healthier?

 

In the last few decades, taking supplements has become more mainstream for improving health. However, according to a new study, nutrients from food instead of supplements seem to be associated with lower risks of death.

Also, results showed different health outcomes for different nutrient categories depending on the source of the nutrient. For example, excess calcium intake was linked to an increased risk of cancer death, which the researchers found was associated with supplemental doses of calcium exceeding 1,000 mg/day. The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine , sheds light on the importance of nutrient source in evaluating mortality and tumorigenesis.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190408183720.htm

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Can pumping affect breast milk's microbial makeup?

 

A recent study on breast milk from women who pumped showed differences in the microbial content of their milk compared to non-pumped milk. Reported in Cell Host & Microbe, a large data set from 393 mother-baby pairs suggests that regardless of pumping frequency (exclusively, occasionally or infrequently), all breast milk is not the same. Milk from women who pumped had more of the infection-causing bacteria and fewer bifidobacteria, which are generally considered beneficial. While scientists agree that breast milk is most definitely not sterile, they disagree on where the bacteria come from.

Reference: https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/growth-curve/pumping-may-be-linked-altered-microbial-mix-breast-milk?tgt=nr

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CRISPR-chip enables detection of DNA without PCR

 

Researchers at the Keck Graduate Institute in California have successfully combined the power of CRISPR's nucleic acid targeting with the ultra sensitivity of graphene as a capture mechanism, making it possible to digitally detect DNA without PCR. This new system immobilizes CRISPR complexes on the surface of graphene-based transistors so when target sequences are identified by the matching complex, they bind to target DNA. This binding changes the conductivity of the graphene material in the transistor, enabling the detection of DNA.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190325120344.htm

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Novel cell-free system to study gene expression

 

Using the microfluidic chip technology and knowledge of necessary molecules involved in transcription, scientists have created a cell-free system for studying and predicting gene expression. By mixing molecules, including synthetic transcription factors or de novo sequences in a cell-free system, it is now possible to easily study natural or synthetic biological logic gates to better understand their function or develop novel functions.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190325101420.htm

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The concentration of eye specific proteins could predict Alzheimer's Disease

 

Researchers at Boston Medical Center have found that low eye-fluid levels of amyloid-β and tau proteins could serve as a potential biomarker of Alzheimer's disease. The study showed a direct correlation between poor cognitive status and low levels of both proteins within the eyes of 80 eye surgery patients. Due to the ease of accessibility, the authors believe that their connection between these proteins with mental status could be used to create a cost-effective eye test for predicting Alzheimer's Disease.

Reference: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20190319/Low-levels-of-certain-eye-proteins-could-serve-as-predictor-for-Alzheimere28099s.aspx

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Potential new strategy to treat influenza A discovered

 

Influenza A group 1 viruses are the most common flu strains, leading to countless deaths worldwide every year. Researchers from Scripps Research and Janssen Research & Development LLC, have discovered an orally active small molecule that can neutralize the influenza A group 1 viruses. Through the use of a chemical library, these scientists identified and optimized lead compounds to produce JNJ-4796, which has shown a therapeutic effect against influenza in mice. Compared with neutralizing antibodies, small molecules are much cheaper, more shelf-stable, and can be made into a convenient treatment for patients, proving small molecule inhibitors to be a promising therapeutic strategy against viruses.

Reference: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20190311/Study-uncovers-potential-new-strategy-to-treat-influenza-A.aspx

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Reduced male fertility caused by pollutants found at home and diet

 

Global sperm quality has fallen by 50% in the past 80 years, concerning families and healthcare providers. Now, results from a study by researchers at the University of Nottingham on sperms from humans and dogs point to environmental and dietary pollution in our modern life. Specifically, the plasticizer DEHP and polychlorinated biphenyl 153, present in household or food items, caused significant damage to sperm DNA leading to low sperm motility and reduced fertility.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190304095949.htm

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Are we there yet? The second AIDS patient free of the virus

 

A decade after Timothy Brown - the "Berlin patient" – was reported to be HIV-free, the second patient – the "London patient" has joined the record. The patient received stem cells from an individual with CCR5 mutation that is known to render a person refractory to HIV. Two years after this successful transplant, the patient seems to have very low virus levels with no need to take antiviral drugs. While we like to call this a cure, his physician prefers to think otherwise.

Reference: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/03/has-second-person-hiv-been-cured

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Gene mutations as predictors of immunotherapy's success rate

 

Development of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy offered glioblastoma patients hope for an effective treatment. However, with failed phase III clinical studies, researchers had to find out why the treatment failed in specific patients. Investigating the genome from participating patients now shows a link between genetic mutations and response to immunotherapy. Such findings offer insights for developing better anti-cancer drugs for all types of tumors in the future.

Reference: https://immuno-oncologynews.com/2019/03/01/specific-gene-mutations-predict-success-immunotherapy-glioblastomas/

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Why immune cells can't destroy solid tumors?

 

The inability of mighty killer T cells to fight tumor cells had baffled scientist for years. But now thanks to the scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine we know not only why, but also how we to leverage it to develop or administer novel immunotherapies. These scientists discovered a defect in killer T cells' glucose metabolism pathway which upon repairing can help them proliferate and become functional. This finding is expected to be used within three to five years to identify ideal patients for immunotherapy.

Reference: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20190226/Killer-T-cells-may-explain-inability-of-immune-cells-to-destroy-cancer-tumors.aspx

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Rediscvoery of the world's largest bee

 

It was almost forty years ago when the first report of a 4 centimeter-long bee with a wingspan of over 7.5 centimeters first emerged. Years later an independent research group led by Princeton entomologists set out to find it an island in Indonesia. The team's strategy and endeavor to locate the bee is an interesting story, demonstrating worldwide efforts to find the lost species.

Reference: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/largest-bee-rediscovered-indonesia

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Potent HIV antibody enables a better vaccine

 

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute identified novel mutations in a specific region of neutralizing antibodies, called the "elbow region", that helps with removing roadblocks in developing more effective vaccines against HIV. These mutations give antibodies the flexibility to adapt to changes in the virus's outer envelope protein structure, enabling the antibody to dock on diverse strains of the virus and more potently neutralize them. The finding was released this month in Nature Communications.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190220174131.htm

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Increased dietary fatty acid intake may decrease hypertension risk

 

As an important public health problem, hypertension can lead to life-threatening cardiovascular issues, such as heart attack and stroke. Using blood pressure measurement and a diet history questionnaire, researchers at Kanawaza University identified that glucose tolerance may be the link between the positive relationship between dietary intake of n-6 fatty acids and hypertension. Apparently increased dietary intake of n-6 fatty acids may decrease hypertension only in individuals with healthy glucose tolerance, but not those with diabetes.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190220103344.htm

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Sleep More to Fight Off Infection

 

Sleep may be the best medicine to fight off disease according to a new study. German researchers found that a good night's sleep can help improve the ability of the immune T cells to attach to their targets, such as viruses, better. So when our bodies are subjected to impaired sleep due to depression, chronic stress, aging or shift work, this cellular attachment is weakened or lost, leading to poor immune response and illness.

Reference: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20190214/Sleep-could-be-the-best-medicine-to-fight-off-an-infection.aspx

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An Effective Drug for Memory Loss is Here at Last

 

After many failures in drug development for mental illness, now a new effective compound is developed to specifically target brain receptors causing memory loss. Results from this breakthrough compound, which took place in Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), showed that a single dose administration of the drug in preclinical models of stress-induced memory loss, not only improved symptoms but also corrected the underlying brain impairment within half an hour.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190214102504.htm

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The secret to staying young and energetic

 

A new study by the Weizmann Institute of Science showed that drug therapy could eliminate senescent cells from tissues of aging mice leading to more active mice with higher longevity. Scientists plan to continue exploring ways to prompt the human body to remove senescent cells in hope of partially realizing the dream of keeping our bodies young in the future.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181231103951.htm

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Why do we need new therapies for breast cancer?

 

Aromatase inhibitors, drugs commonly used to prevent the recurrence of estrogen-positive breast cancer, have such severe side effects that some patients choose to discontinue therapy. Now, results of a study by neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on aged male and female marmosets taking these drugs clearly shows the severity of these side effects and the need for a new treatment approach.

Reference: https://www.technologynetworks.com/tn/news/studying-the-side-effects-common-anti-cancer-treatment-313338

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trM cells play a key role in the surveillance of skin melanomas

 

Using a special microscope, researchers from the Peter Doherty Institute for infection and immunology and the Telethon Kids Institute, could show for the first time how the growth of individual melanoma cells sitting in the skin of the mouse were under the control of tissue-resident memory T (trM) cells. This finding, published in Nature, has significant implications in cancer immunotherapy.

Reference: https://www.technologynetworks.com/tn/news/tissue-resident-memory-t-cells-survey-melanoma-cells-313355

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How to Make Cancer Immunotherapy More Localized and Effective?

 

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine developed a novel approach in cancer immunotherapy, reducing the side effects of cancer treatment. In this strategy, B cells known as secreting antibodies in humoral immunity were used to manufacture vesicles containing microRNAs. Upon take up by cancer cells, these microRNAs inhibited the translation of growth-related proteins and thus, reduced both cancer growth and drug side effects.

Reference: https://www.technologynetworks.com/tn/news/turning-immune-cells-into-tiny-anti-tumor-drug-factories-312842

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Is There a Vaccine that Can Solve All the Viruses at Once?

 

Scientists at a gathering on the topic of "Alchemist's Dream" organized by Human Vaccines Project last month, announced a plan to concoct a "universal" flu vaccine to protect against all viral strains. Along with discussions on the handful of universal flu vaccines currently tested in early human trials, NIAID announced a $160 million budget to boost the "universal" flu research next year.

Reference: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/universal-flu-vaccine-remains-alchemist-s-dream

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Machine Learning Helps Identify Proteins in Human Cell Surfaceome

 

Researches from the ETH Zurich University, reported the development of an algorithm that can predict surface proteins with very high accuracy. Their worked published in PNAS, is based on an in silico inventory of known cell surface proteins, i.e. surfaceome, in human cells and provides a novel approach for identifying multi-targets for effective drug development.

Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181121142851.htm

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President trump's hope on bolstering the country's biodefense

 

Last week the White House announced a strategy to better coordinate the often overlapping efforts of 15 departments and agencies and 16 branches of the intelligence community. President Donald trump hopes to bolster the U.S. government's defenses against biological threats, and assured that the upcoming change would "promote a more efficient, coordinated, and accountable biodefense enterprise."

Since former President Bill Clinton's government, US authorities have tried to better coordinate the federal response to biothreats. This latest pledge from trump's administration, was initiated by a report issued in 2015 by the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense demanding that the U.S. vice president be the point person for biodefense, followed by a congressional law, passed in December 2016, mandating that four agencies involved with biodefense need to issue a new plan within 275 days. Now with the strategy in place, efforts are focused on funding the plan to make sure it is successfully carried out.

Reference: trump's biodefense plan aims to improve coordination across agencies

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Approved! NIH will get 2 billion dollars more next year.

 

US Congress has approved $39.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget in 2019 spending bill, increasing its annual budget to $2 billion compared to 2018.

As expected, the 5% boost matches the Senate's proposed spending range and exceeds the former $1.25 billion increase of the draft bill passed by the House. President Donald trump's administration had requested $34.8 billion for the fiscal year that begins October 1st. This is the fourth consecutive year that NIH has received a substantial increase in its budget after more than a decade of budgetary stagnation.

Reference: NIH gets $2 billion boost in final 2019 spending bill

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How cancer cells behave naturally? A new cell culture platform reveals the secret.

 

Researchers at Hokkaido University created a new cell culture substrate from a coated glass slide with etched islands of 30μm diameter. The size of these islands is enough for one or two healthy cells to attach. However, when pancreatic cancer cells were seeded and incubated on the substrate overnight, cancer cells self-organized into micro-tumors that could move in a concerted way as one organism. These cells first formed papillary structures comprised of 4 or more cells through cell invasion. This process, called entosis, is a step in cell degradation. These incorporated cells remained alive and the process were found to be reversible.

treatment of these micro-tumors with the widely-used anti-cancer agent Nocodazole, led to their disintegration, but detached cells survived regardless. What's more, the researchers observed the micro-tumors captured surrounding dead cells and ingested them where their typical dead cell markers attached to the cell surface of tumor cells. This trick appears to be the way cancer cells disguise themselves, enabling them to evade the immune system's killer cells.

Reference: ew micro-platform reveals cancer cells' natural behavior

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Can a mysterious new brain cell separate humans from mice?

 

Scientists have discovered a new type of neurons in the uppermost layer of the mouse cortex, named "rosehip neurons". To precisely classify these cells, researchers combined microscopic study of brain anatomy with the genetic analysis of individual cells. These small and compact cells were found to be dense, bushy shape and transmit signals to axonal boutons. The specific set of genes expressed in these "rosehip neurons" doesn't closely match any previously-identified cells in the mouse brain. Whether these neurons are the key to certain brain functions that separate humans from mice is yet to be identified.

Reference: http://en.misis.ru/university/news/science/2018-08/5504/

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Scientists Develop New Platform to Kill Cancer Cells

 

Scientists have combined gold (Au) and magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles into a hybrid that has both magnetic properties and is capable of carrying any drug (doxorubicin tested) to a tumor. It turned out as a 'nanodumbbell'. If the pathogenic cells are tagged with magnetic nanoparticles, they can be diagnosed with the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and subsequently destroyed by the drug. This could be a new generation of cancer treatments in the coming years.

Reference: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/08/mysterious-new-brain-cell-found-people

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Promising New Use for Blood Test

 

As early as the 10th week of pregnancy, conducting a blood test can help identify women a pregnancy-related condition-gestational diabetes, which increases the chances for mother's high blood pressure and infants' risk for large birth size. Cuilin Zhang, Ph.D. of the National Institutes of Health said "Our results suggest that the HbA1C test potentially could help identify women at risk for gestational diabetes early in pregnancy, when lifestyle changes may be more effective in reducing their risk."

Reference: https://www.technologynetworks.com

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New technique could help scientists create a gene in just 1 day

 

It could be soon possible to create a new gene in a single day, thanks to the new technique-DNA-writing enzymes that mimics the way the body copies its own DNA. "It's the future, and going to be enormous." says George Church, the Harvard University geneticist who is authority in synthetic biology of DNA reading and writing.

The traditional approach to oligonucleotide or oligo needs to take DNA nucleotides-the chemical letters A, G, C, and T-and adds them, one by one. DNA-writing enzymes could revolutionize synthetic biology and data storage. Though the technology still has problems to be solved, it could one day let researchers speedily rewrite microbe genes, enabling them to synthesize new genes and write massive libraries of data in DNA.

Reference: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/new-technique-could-help-scientists-create-gene-just-1-day

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Chinese researchers created a functional single chromosome yeast

 

S. cerevisiae is a single-celled organism that has 16 chromosomes. Now, Chinese researchers fused these yeast chromosomes using CRISPR–Cas9, generating a single linear chromosomes. The fusion strains comprised genomic material that is almost identical to that of normal S. cerevisiae, differing only in chromosome number and by a few non-essential genes that were deleted during strain creation. Surprisingly, the fusion has little effect on cell fitness. These engineered yeast strains constitute powerful resources for studying fundamental concepts in chromosome biology, including replication, recombination and segregation.

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Cas12a (Cpf1) proved to be a better Cas enzyme than Cas9

 

Although CRISPR is a potential tool to treat diseases caused by gene mutations, pervasive problems exist that it may edit similar sites, which called off-target effects. Yesterday, it is reported that Cas12a binds DNA tightly in two kinetically separable steps and could differentiates against mismatches along most of the DNA target sequences. It is more precise than Cas9 which only recognizes the "seed" region. The work shows that Cas12a could be a more prospective tool for an error-proof genome editing system.

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Stem cells generated from stress alone? Misconduct found in two Nature papers

 

The stem-cell scientist responsible for two publications claiming the ability to generate stem cells from fully differentiated cells using only certain stresses, has been found guilty of scientific misconduct.

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How are angiogenesis and osteogenesis coupled in bone?

 

A recent Nature publication identified a specific vessel subtype as the coupler of angiogenesis and osteogenesis in bone, which is significantly reduced in bones of aged animals.

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Oxidative stress: New regulation mechanisms revealed

 

Recent work demonstrates that high reactive oxygen species (ROS) conditions in a cell causes Nrf2 to function as a transcriptional regulator for antioxidant gene expression, limiting ROS levels in cells, making this an unexpected oxidative stress regulation mechanism.

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New class of antibiotic effective against MRSA

 

A team of scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotics to fight drug-resistant bacteria including MRSA. This new class, called oxadiazoles inhibits a penicillin-binding protein and other features which enable a bacteria to resist other drugs currently available.

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Antibody can predict Crohn's disease response to treatment by in vivo imaging

 

A recent publication describes how fluorescent imaging of antibodies against membrane-bound tumor necrosis factor (mTNF) can predict clinical response of Crohn's disease patients to treatment.

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Could cancer detection be as easy as taking something similar to a pregnancy test?

 

Researchers from Stanford University developed a paper-based point-of-care diagnostic test capable of detecting colorectal cancer and thrombosis biomarkers from unpurified urine. Find out how they developed the test and how much it will cost.

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transgenic Monkeys Created using CRISPR

 

As reported in Nature, scientists have generated the first monkeys harboring specific mutations, through the use of CRISPR-mediated gene editing.  Learn why CRISPR is an important breakthrough for creating transgenic monkey.

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Senescence in cancer cells induced by chiral selective interactions with telomere

 

Researchers have identified a compound with chiral selectivity that induces apoptosis and senescence in cancer, but not normal cells. These researchers used anti-γ-H2AX produced by GenScript's Custom Monoclonal Antibody Services for this publication. Learn more about Antibodies for Senescence and Aging Research.

Que X. et al. (Jan 2014) G-Quadruplex Binding Enantiomers Show Chiral Selective Interactions with Human Telomere.NucleicAcids Res

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Gene library for Genome-Wide TALEN Editing in Human Cells

 

TALENs aren't just for single-gene targeting anymore: researchers recently created TALEN constructs for 18,740 unique protein-coding human genes.

A library of TAL effector nucleases spanning the human genome, Kim et al. Nature Biotechnology 2013 Mar; 31 (3); 251-8.

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Two new TKIs in the spotlight as potential cancer drugs

 

Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) have already revolutionized the treatment of cancer, but much remains to be learned about how specific receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) contribute to oncogenesis and how they can be most effectively targeted to alleviate these diseases. Two recent papers use disease-relevant cellular and animal models to characterize new drug candidates and reveal new secrets of cancer biology:

Discovery and Preclinical Characterization of Novel Small Molecule trK and ROS1 Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors for the treatment of Cancer and Inflammation. Narayanan et al. Plos One. 2013 Dec; 8 (12); e83380

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