dna_CC

What’s in Your Genes: Newly approved genetic testing for disease risks

by Catherine Weiner figures by Michael Gerhardt A decade ago, the idea of analyzing your DNA from the comfort of your own home seemed like science fiction. Tests required several weeks, thousands if not millions of dollars, and a lab of highly specialized PhDs. Today, thanks to technical advances and companies like 23andMe, you can perform this analysis for $199. The U.S. Food and Drug … Continue reading What’s in Your Genes: Newly approved genetic testing for disease risks

Mosquito_Tasmania_crop

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

Human Lymphocyte

Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Results from a small clinical trial comprising 86 cancer patients have prompted scientists to rethink how different cancers are classified and treated. The drug being assessed was Keytruda, a recent addition to oncologists’ arsenal of cancer immunotherapy drugs.  Unlike traditional chemotherapies, which poison and kill cancer cells directly, cancer immunotherapy recruits the body’s own self-defense machinery to attack tumors.  Although our immune systems are very good … Continue reading Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Vancomycin-Resistant_Enterococcus_01

Expanding the Antibiotic Arsenal: A New Drug of Last Resort

Prior to the discovery of antibiotics, bacterial infections were the leading cause of death worldwide. Now, treating infections is often a routine procedure – simply requiring a doctor’s visit and a prescribed antibiotic. However, this simple routine has become marred by the emergence of antibiotic resistance. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics is fueling the rise of resistant bacteria. In response to antibiotic exposure, bacteria have evolved … Continue reading Expanding the Antibiotic Arsenal: A New Drug of Last Resort

Cover Image Fusion

Cancer Moonshot Musings II: Fusion oncoproteins in focus

by Steph Guerra figures by Shannon McArdel The Cancer Moonshot is an initiative that was launched by Joe Biden in 2016 with the goal of accelerating cancer research progress by bringing together world-class researchers and institutions in the battle against this disease. Armed with $300 million in startup funding, plus a total of $1.8 billion authorized over the next seven years, the Cancer Moonshot has … Continue reading Cancer Moonshot Musings II: Fusion oncoproteins in focus

AMD

Genetically engineered viruses: a medicine of the future

A medical team at Johns Hopkins University genetically engineered a common cold virus to deposit a gene when injected into the human eye. This gene codes for a protein that binds to VEGF, another protein whose activity in old age contributes to vision loss (a disease called AMD or wet AMD). This small clinical study’s preliminary results show that just one small dose is potent enough to improve a patient’s vision loss. Continue reading Genetically engineered viruses: a medicine of the future

Spreading of Homo sapiens [Image: created by NordNordWest, release into the public domain]

When did the Americas encounter the first human?

It is widely believed that humans first arrived in the Americas around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. Discoveries at archeological sites such as Mesa Verde in Chile and Meadowcroft, PA have long supported this view. At a dig in Southern California, possible traces of human activity from over 130,000 years ago have been discovered. Researchers at the site recovered the partial skeleton of a mastodon, an … Continue reading When did the Americas encounter the first human?