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The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus

As mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides used to control their populations, scientists have been developing new tools. The latest idea: infecting mosquitoes with a fungus genetically engineered to produce arachnid toxins. After infecting the mosquitoes with fungal spores, the bugs showed increase mortality within 2.5 days after exposure and fed less in the days before their death, compared to their healthy counterparts. Continue reading The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus

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Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production

Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a fast-growing bacterial cell with a nearly-minimal number of genes necessary for survival – just 473 in total. These genes were entirely synthesized – not transplanted from a grown organism – and the creation of such a cell may allow big steps forward in gene function identification and efficient mass-production of biological molecules. Continue reading Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production

Cells in your blood, like those shown in this microscope image, are coated in membranes that the body recognizes as non-foreign, preventing the immune system from attacking them. Cloaking nanoparticles in such membranes allows them to slip past the defense system unnoticed, so they can deliver drugs to sites in the body without confrontation. (Hanna Sӧrensson, Flickr, Creative Commons)

Friend or Foe? Getting the body to make peace with bioengineered drug delivery systems

Recent drug discoveries promise new treatments and cures for many diseases. However, getting a drug to work, not only in experiments with cells in the lab, but also in the human body, is difficult. One challenge? Getting past the body’s line of defense, the immune system, which fights foreign invaders that make it into the body. In September, a news article reported that scientists have … Continue reading Friend or Foe? Getting the body to make peace with bioengineered drug delivery systems

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Challenging Evolution: How GMOs Can Influence Genetic Diversity

by Heather Landry Summary: The vast diversity in gene sequences are what create the large variety of plants and animals we see today. Genetic diversity is crucial for adapting to new environments, as more variation in genes leads to more individuals of a population having favorable traits to withstand harsh conditions. Low genetic diversity, on the other hand, can be very problematic during changing environments, … Continue reading Challenging Evolution: How GMOs Can Influence Genetic Diversity

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Not Your Grandfather’s GMOs: An Interview with Dr. Dan Voytas

by James Angstman images courtesy of Calyxt Dr. Dan Voytas, PhD. Courtesy of Calyxt. “I just got a text from my 14-year-old niece the other day, and she said, ‘Thought of a good idea for your next genetically modified treat,’” he told me. “So, you see, there’s a difference in the language, right? It’s a GMT. ‘Broccoli and asparagus in one vegetable. It should look … Continue reading Not Your Grandfather’s GMOs: An Interview with Dr. Dan Voytas

DNA microarray. DNA - Deoxyribonucleic acid. From PD-USGOV-NASA on Wikimedia Commons

Can we send a message to the future with DNA?

Ever wonder how we can relay messages to future populations? So do scientists. Recent news suggests DNA embedded in glass might be the answer to efficiently storing information for millions of years! Yet, storing large amounts of information is still limited by the price of DNA synthesis. And who knows what infrastructure we’ll have to read DNA millions of years from now? DNA is currently … Continue reading Can we send a message to the future with DNA?

NOVAMOXIN antibiotic from Bmramon at en.wikipedia

An Alternative to Antibiotics?

Scientists offer an alternative method to fight bacteria in an effort to combat antibiotic resistance. They generated liposomes, or very small particles that look much like cell membranes. Because of this similarity, liposomes, instead of the host cells, can draw in bacterial toxins and allow the resulting non-toxic bacteria to be defeated by the body’s natural immune defense. However, this is just the beginning- for … Continue reading An Alternative to Antibiotics?