What is the difference between a normal cell and a cancer cell? The answer lies in their DNA. Cancer results from the accumulation of genetic mutations, which trigger uncontrolled cell growth. Cancer’s mutated DNA can reveal its presence early on in the disease. Like leaving fingerprints at a crime scene, tumor cells release small pieces of DNA into the bloodstream. This “circulating tumor DNA” can now … Continue reading Catching Cancer: Blood Test for Early-Stage Diagnosis
Over 17,000 Americans are currently waiting for liver transplants, with millions more living with chronic liver disease. There simply aren’t enough healthy organs to go around. So why not engineer them? Growing a liver “from scratch” by using its constituent cells could replace the need for whole organ transplants. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology generated hydrogels containing three different types of human cells, … Continue reading From Seed to Organ: Growing a Liver
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
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
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
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
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?