The Chemistry Nobel: Evolving proteins into better medicines and biofuels

It’s that time of year – Nobel Prize season! This year, the Chemistry Nobel prize was awarded to three scientists: one half to Frances Arnold “for the directed evolution of enzymes,” and the other half to George Smith and Sir Gregory Winter “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies.” What exactly are these award-winning technologies and how have they impacted society? ‘Directed evolution of … Continue reading The Chemistry Nobel: Evolving proteins into better medicines and biofuels

Your Personality May Determine How You Respond to Placebo Pills

The placebo effect is a puzzling phenomenon. Placebos (sugar pills or saline solutions secretly substituted for actual drugs) are commonly used in clinical trials to set a baseline against which to measure the effects of a drug. However, people in the placebo group will often show improvements alongside the treatment group. The fact that an inactive substance, such as a sugar pill, can lead to … Continue reading Your Personality May Determine How You Respond to Placebo Pills

Nanomaterials as cancer treatment: overcoming drug resistance in chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment, using drugs to destroy cancer cells. However, cancer cells can develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs by developing “efflux pumps”, pumps in the cell membrane that work to actively expel the chemotherapy drugs from the tumor cells. Shana Kelley and her team in University of Toronto developed nanomaterials that can deliver drugs into cancer cells and suppress their drug resistance. … Continue reading Nanomaterials as cancer treatment: overcoming drug resistance in chemotherapy

World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan started a clinical trial this month to treat Parkinson’s disease with reprogrammed stem cells. This follows the successful restoration of brain cell function in monkeys using these stem cells reported last year. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of a specific type of neuron in the brain, called dopaminergic neurons, which make the essential neurotransmitter dopamine. The reduced … Continue reading World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

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?

Promising results for a treatment for blindness

Progressive blindness has been reversed in two patients with age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD. AMD is a leading cause of blindness in people over 50. AMD damages the central portion of the retina, called the macula, which decreases vision over time, and can lead to blind spot formation. Phase 1 clinical trial results highlighting the effectiveness of a stem cell-based therapy were published … Continue reading Promising results for a treatment for blindness

Scientists have created sheep that are 0.01% human

For as long as humans have conceived of making hybrid organisms, an ethical debate has been waged over whether or not we should. The pros and cons are vast and poignant. Each new scientific advancement towards making hybrids stokes the fire of controversy. This year, researchers presented work at a conference detailing the most recent hybrid: a sheep-human chimera. To create these chimeras, scientists used … Continue reading Scientists have created sheep that are 0.01% human

Monkey see, monkey do: scientists have created the first cloned primates

No, we won’t be seeing designer babies anytime soon. But scientists have successfully cloned monkeys for the first time, establishing a technique that could be used to create better disease models using primates, the closest animals to humans. These cloned monkeys, Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, are alive and well in China. They were created using the same technology (somatic cell nuclear transfer) used to … Continue reading Monkey see, monkey do: scientists have created the first cloned primates

Bacteria May Help Protect Cancer Cells

Developing cancer drugs is challenging. Often, scientists will find a drug that kills cancer cells in a petri dish but fails to act on an actual tumor. Ravid Straussman from the Weizmann Institute of Science and Todd Golub from Harvard Medical School think that in situ, bacteria can protect cancer cells from drugs. To test their theory, Staussman and Golub mixed some healthy skin cells with cells from a … Continue reading Bacteria May Help Protect Cancer Cells

Could Zika become a treatment for brain cancer?

Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly brain cancers because it is nearly impossible to destroy the cause of the cancer: cancerous stem cells. However, scientists are using Zika’s preference for stem cells to target and eliminate the cancerous stem cells in adults. The preliminary study shows the viability of this method, but more thorough research and a PR campaign may be necessary before Zika treatments for brain cancer can become standard protocol. Continue reading Could Zika become a treatment for brain cancer?