chemistry_Carmen_Sivakumaren

Spectrum

These colorful fractions were obtained upon purifying a synthetic small-molecule through flash column chromatography. Though most of these were impurities (bright colors in organic chemistry is usually not a great sign), it served as a reminder to appreciate the beauty in the mundane and seemingly unimportant. Contributed by Carmen Sivakumaren, a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School.   Continue reading Spectrum

nicholes_elephant

Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?

The Church lab at Harvard University recently announced plans to create a hybrid mammoth and elephant. Using a technology called CRISPR, researchers in the Church lab have learned how to insert mammoth DNA into the cells of modern elephants. Theoretically, this could set the stage for developing an embryo with DNA from both a modern elephant and the woolly mammoth. The group would like to … Continue reading Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?

Human egg cell about to undergo in vitro fertilization [Image: ‘Oocyte with Zona pellucida’ from ZEISS Microscopy]

It’s a boy! Baby is born with DNA from three “parents”

  A now five-month-old boy was the first child to be born via spindle nuclear transfer, a controversial fertilization procedure that incorporates genetic material from three different people.  Most of our genes are located in the DNA found in a cell’s nucleus, but a few reside in tiny compartments called mitochondria.  While rare, mutations in mitochondrial DNA can result in devastating disorders that often cannot … Continue reading It’s a boy! Baby is born with DNA from three “parents”

Scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli

Shrink to grow: on the road towards a 57-codon bacterium

“Shrink to grow” is a two-pronged business strategy where a company gets rid of unprofitable brands (“shrink”) to focus its resources on a few remaining or new brands (“grow”). Companies like P&G and Microsoft have used it, and a similar idea to “shrink to grow” is behind the George Church lab’s ongoing development of the synthetic bacteria rEcoli57. But while the executives at P&G were … Continue reading Shrink to grow: on the road towards a 57-codon bacterium

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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

DNA Profile

23andMe wins approval from FDA: What does your DNA say about you?

Spitting into a plastic tube normally doesn’t cost $199, but the personal genomics company 23andMe has recently won FDA approval to turn that saliva into a DNA fingerprint.  By identifying common variants in our genetic code, 23andMe’s DNA-testing service originally supplied personalized insights into disease predisposition, drug sensitivity, and other health-related traits.  In 2013, however, the FDA demanded that 23andMe shutter the health-related aspect of … Continue reading 23andMe wins approval from FDA: What does your DNA say about you?