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An ambitious plan to stop the rise of superbugs

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Antibiotic resistance is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything to stop it. A headline that always catches my attention is that antibiotic resistance is on the rise. Underlying these headlines is that the disease-causing bacteria that make us sick are becoming less responsive to treatment by […]

Biologists reverse engineer the microtubules that make up cell walls and spindles

Graduate student Akanksha Thawani (left) discusses her research with molecular biologist Sabine Petry. Thawani, Petry and their colleagues at Princeton succeeded in reverse-engineering the recipe for building the ‘fireworks of life,’ the branching microtubules that make up cell walls and the spindles for mitosis and meiosis. Credit: Sameer Khan/Fotobuddy Imagine standing in a lumberyard and […]

Endometrial diseases can be imitated in a lab dish, new study shows

An organoid – a three-dimensional cell structure – grown from endometrial cancer tissue of a patient. The different colours indicate the depth of the microscopic scan. Credit: © KU Leuven, Stem Cell and Developmental Biology (recorded by co-author Indra Van Zundert) Biomedical researchers at KU Leuven have found a new way to study endometrial diseases […]

Major class of viruses reveals complex origins

In all cellular life, whether prokaryotic (bacteria), eukaryotic (plants, animals, fungi, etc) or archeal, the flow of genetic information is the same. Often referred to as the central dogma of molecular biology, the basic outline involves double-stranded DNA transcribed into single-stranded RNA and finally translated into a functional product, namely protein. Viruses are composite structures […]

Fly antimicrobial defence system doubles as tumour-killer

Credit: CC0 Public Domain An antimicrobial agent called Defensin kills tumour cells and shrinks tumour size in fruit flies, with help from a pathway that flags the cells for destruction. These findings, published in eLife, provide the first evidence in live animals that antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which help protect against infection, also defend against cancer. […]

Could viruses affect climate? New study probes effects on global nutrient cycle

Scientists are exploring the role of viruses, such as those that infect the important carbon-capturing cyanobacteria which sometimes appears in large blooms (above), on global climate and nutrient cycles. Credit: shutterstock.com Nowadays we’re getting more used to the idea that entire ecosystems of tiny bacteria are living on our skin, in the soil of our […]

Mouse genetics influences the microbiome more than environment

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Genetics has a greater impact on the microbiome than maternal birth environment, at least in mice, according to a study published this week in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Vaginal birth, known to transfer microbiota to a newborn, failed to make a lasting microbial imprint on offspring. “The powerful effect of genetics, […]

Mouse model supports importance of fatty acid balance in chronic disease

Using novel transgenic mouse models they developed, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators have provided new evidence that it is the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, rather than the total amount of them, that influences risk of developing chronic disease. This work has important implications for wellness and dietary guidelines. Their paper is just […]