Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

by Francesca Tomasi figures by Aparna Nathan Too Much of a Good Thing? Ninety years ago, Alexander Fleming happened upon the chemical compound penicillin and sparked a medical revolution. It was a serendipitous occasion – Fleming had been growing plates of bacteria in his lab when he noticed some mold growing on one of them. Just some classic contamination, he probably thought, ready to discard … Continue reading Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures

In order to adapt to their environments, it is important that bacteria be able to mix up their genetic code. One way that bacteria do this is by taking up bits of free-floating foreign DNA that can be released by other kinds of bacteria into their environments when they die. This process is called ‘transformation.’ The pieces of DNA can occasionally encode components that make … Continue reading Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures

Central Dogma

Our bodies contain numerous cell types that look drastically different and perform various functions that allow us to eat, breathe, move, and reproduce. While all cells have the same DNA as a “blueprint”, their working set of proteins can vary drastically. The process of making protein from DNA is known as the “central dogma”. However, it is not a linear step, but instead requires two … Continue reading Central Dogma

A Future Cure for the Common Cold?

Early-stage research has identified a compound that stops pesky colds in their tracks – useful as a potential cold cure. Although adults are bothered by an average of 2-3 colds per year, colds can “cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] (COPD),” lead researcher Edward Tate, Chemical Biology Professor at the Imperial College London, told ScienceDaily. “A drug … Continue reading A Future Cure for the Common Cold?

Buckle Up for Gene Drives of the Future!

by Jessalyn Ubellacker figure by Jovana Andrejevic Between September 1999 and June 2000, the first human genome was sequenced. Since then, scientists have learned not only to read the human genome, but also to manipulate it, offering unprecedented opportunities to improve human health through genetic alterations. One example of this is gene drive technology, which circumvents classical inheritance patterns to ‘drive’ the presence of particular … Continue reading Buckle Up for Gene Drives of the Future!

Using Genetics to Fight Cancer: The pros and cons of direct-to-consumer testing

by Alyson Warr figures by Olivia Foster One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. This statistic makes breast cancer the leading cancer diagnosis for women in the US. With such staggering numbers, a focus on prevention is key: how can we stop breast cancer before it starts? One way is to develop fast and convenient methods of … Continue reading Using Genetics to Fight Cancer: The pros and cons of direct-to-consumer testing

Cellular Secrets: Getting a look at how cells repair DNA

Before cells divide, they have to unwind their chromosomes, copy of all of their DNA, and then wrap the DNA backup into chromosomes. When this process happens, cells often lose a little bit of DNA from the tips of their chromosomes. An enzyme, called telomerase, can help repair chromosomes by adding that DNA back onto the ends. Scientists are interested in telomerase because inhibiting it … Continue reading Cellular Secrets: Getting a look at how cells repair DNA