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

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

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

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?

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”

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

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