MIT Researchers Identify Mutations Key to Antibiotic Resistance 🔬🧬💊

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) identified a class of mutations that aid bacteria in developing resistance. While antibiotic resistance is a natural process, at times, and necessary for the survival of some bacteria, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics creates more of a danger of a large variety of diseases. 

Why Elephants Rarely Get Cancer, and the Potential Mechanism that May be Key to Cancer Resistance 🧬🧪🦠

A new study from the University at Buffalo and University of California, Berkeley shows that elephants possess extra copies of a wide variety of genes associated with tumor suppression. Elephants have lots and lots of extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, and they all might contribute to cancer resistance. Though many elephant relatives also harbor extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, the scientists found that elephant genomes possess some unique duplications that may contribute to tumor suppression through genes involved in DNA repair; resistance to oxidative stress; cellular growth, aging and death.

Origami with DNA for study of T-cells 🧫🧬🧪

Researchers at TU Wien used artificial membrane along with DNA origami technique to be able to study the interaction between the T-cells and the antigen-presenting cells in detail. There was some evidence that the spatial distance between antigens plays an important role in T-cell activation. The researchers built a rectangular DNA platform to which one can fix an antigen. By cleverly designing single strands that only fit together in certain sections, they connected several double helices with each other and thus created complicated structures. This DNA rectangle was placed on the artificial membrane and it moved there like a raft. This technique is called DNA origami.

DNA sequencing in space; a promising technology for extraterrestrial life detection 🧬 🌌 🪐

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  have confirmed the ability to sequence at Mars as well as near Europa and at lower g levels, demonstrating the functionality of updated chemistry and sequencing protocols under parabolic flight, thus revealing consistent performance across various g levels. The work strengthens the use case for nanopore sequencing in dynamic environments on Earth and in space, including as part of the search for nucleic-acid based life beyond Earth.

TU Delft’s Research Team Set up Artificial Chromosomes In Yeast 🧫🧬🔬

Researchers from TU Delft have created a synthetic chromosome in yeast. These artificial chromosomes can synchronize with the innate chromosomes of the yeast as well as provide a means to easily and safely incorporate new beneficial functions to the microbe.

InStrain: The New Genetic Analysis Program that Detects Differences between Familial Microbial Germ Lines🦠🧬🧪

Previous technologies, such a 16s RNA, have been used as a means to analyze the biodiversity of the microbiome. The detection of genotypic and phenotypic variation among microbial cells is vital when diagnosing and treating most diseases. InStrain is a new genetic analysis program that uses previously obtained metagenomic data to detect phenotypic differences between microbial cell germ lines.

Rare Quadruple-Helix DNA Found in Living Human Cells 🧬🔬🧫

New probes have allowed scientists to see four-stranded DNA interacting with molecules inside living human cells, unraveling its role in cellular processes. DNA typically forms the classic double helix shape we are all familiar with, and while it can also form some more exotic shapes in test tubes, it is very rare to see in real living cells.

Immune Genes Protect Cells from Ebola Virus and SARS-CoV-2🦠🔬🧫

Using a genetic screen called transposon-mediated gene activation, researchers from the Benaroya Research Institute searched for natural antiviral mechanisms within cultured human bone cancer cells. Transposons, mobile genetic elements found throughout the genome, can be added to cells to knock out genes they randomly insert into. The team integrated a promoter sequence into the transposons so that they would turn other genes on, while also knocking some genes out. After adding these transposons to human cells, the team introduced a virus engineered to express Ebola glycoprotein, killing most of the cells. Then, they discovered two genes crucial to the cells’ survival: NPC1 and CIITA.

Why Doesn’t the Gold Standard Treatment for Bipolar Disorder Work for the Majority of Patients? 💊🧠🔬

Lithium is considered to be the gold standard treatment for bipolar disorder (BD), but nearly 70% of people with BD do not respond to the treatment, leaving them at risk for debilitating, potentially life-threatening mood swings. Researchers at the Salk Institute have found that the culprit may lie in gene activity—or the lack of it. The study could result in a new drug for bipolar disorder as well as a biomarker for lithium non-responsiveness.

Mitochondria Transfer Device Developed by UCLA Can Help Study Various Disorders 🧫🧬🔬

Researchers from University of California, Los Angeles developed MitoPunch, a device for transferring the mitochondria and its DNA into mammalian cells. Their approach can help understand genetic components of cells and possibly study the backgrounds of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and metabolic disorders. 

Skinny Genes – Scientists Discover Gene that Protects Against Diet-Induced Obesity 🧬🔬🍕

We all know those people who can eat what they want without worrying about gaining weight. Thus far, the regulation of fat metabolism has mainly focused on finding genes linked to obesity. However, an international team of researchers have taken a unique approach to discovering genes linked to thinness, or the resistance to weight gain.

Gene Editing Transforms Stem Cells into Egg Cells 🧬🧫🥚

Researchers from Kyushu University in Japan were able to convert mouse stem cells into oocyte-like cells by activating just eight genes.

Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease Predicts Future Cognitive Decline in Healthy People 🩸🧠📉

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have reported the development of a blood test for a fragment of the protein tau, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. The test for levels of N-terminal fragment of tau (NT1) has been evaluated in participants of the Harvard Aging Brain Study (HABS), where the authors report that baseline NT1 levels in the blood were highly predictive of the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease dementia in healthy, older adults. The test represents a far less costly and less invasive alternative to image and lumbar punctures.

3D Cell Culturing Technique Could Replace Mouse Models 🧫🔬🐁

By growing mouse stem cells in a special gel, researchers from the Max Planck Institute succeeded in producing structure similar to parts of an embryo. The trunk-like structures develop the precursors for neural bone, cartilage, and muscle tissues from cellular clumps within five days. This could allow the scientists to explore the effects of pharmacological agents more effectively—and on a scale that would not be possible in living organisms.

How Does Space Travel Affect Aging? 👩🏽‍🚀🚀🪐

Flying through outer space can take a toll on the body, and during space travel, astronauts experience aging at a faster rate than people on Earth. Recent studies have looked at the health hazards that spending time up in space has had on astronauts, and they revealed that space alters gene function, function of the mitochondria, and the chemical balance in cells.

Memory Deficits from Epigenetic Changes in Alzheimer’s Disease May be Reversed 🧠🧬↩️

By inhibiting certain enzymes involved in abnormal gene transcription, researchers from the University at Buffalo were able to restore memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. They focused on gene changes caused by epigenetic processes such as aging to reverse elevated levels of harmful genes that cause memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease.

Gene Therapy Injection in One Eye Surprises Scientists by Improving Vision in Both 🧬💉👁

In a phase 3 clinical trial, researchers from the University of Cambridge, University of Pittsburgh, and other institutions used gene therapy to successfully treat 37 patients suffering from Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), the most common cause of mitochondrial blindness. In the study, 78% of treated patients treated experienced significant visual improvement in both eyes over 2 years of follow-up. The research suggests that the improvement in vision in untreated eyes could be due to the transfer of viral vector DNA from the injected eye.

The World’s First Mobile Genome Sequence Analyzer, Right on Our iPhone’s 🧬🔬📱

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists have developed a new iPhone app capable of connecting with a handheld DNA sequencer, allowing users to create a mobile genetics laboratory. The app, iGenomics, reduces the need for laptops or large field equipment. The iGenomics app was developed by Aspyn Palatnick over a period of eight years, starting when he was only 14-years-old during an internship at the lab.

Genetically Engineered T Cells Could Lead to Therapies for Autoimmune Disease 🧬🔬🦠

Novel T cells genetically engineered by a team at the University of Arizona were able to target and attack pathogenic T cells that cause Type 1 diabetes, which could lead to new immunotherapy treatments.

Genetic Reprogramming Rejuvenates Nerve Cells and Restores Vision Loss in Mice 🧬🐁👀

Harvard Medical School scientists have successfully restored vision in mice by turning back the clock on aged eye cells in the retina and returning youthful gene function. In addition to resetting the cells’ aging clock, the team successfully reversed vision loss in mice with a condition mimicking human glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

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