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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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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