An isolated blue dna molecule on white background

First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved

The first clinical trial using the gene editing technique CRISPR was given the go-ahead by panel from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trial is aimed at determining if the technique is safe for use on human subjects. As there is much we have yet to learn about genes and their expression, it is a valid concern that modifying DNA in humans could … Continue reading First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved

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Down, but not out: Developments in depression research

by Emily Ricq Depression affects 15 million Americans and is characterized by debilitating feelings of sadness or emptiness that interfere with the ability to lead and enjoy life [1]. The substantial personal and public health burden imposed by depression has motivated decades of intensive research by scientists, clinicians, therapists, and pharmaceutical companies alike, yet the biology underlying the cause (or causes) of the disease and … Continue reading Down, but not out: Developments in depression research

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Insect Zoopharmacognosy: Finding medicine where you least expect it

by Fernanda Ferreira figures by Krissy Lyon The young, scaly creature bursts from the torso of its doomed host in a mix of guts and blood and stares blinkingly at its new environment. For most people the sentence above describes a famous scene from Ridley Scott’s Alien, but for many insects it’s a daily reality. The inspiration for H.R. Giger’s nightmarish alien comes from one … Continue reading Insect Zoopharmacognosy: Finding medicine where you least expect it

Cells in your blood, like those shown in this microscope image, are coated in membranes that the body recognizes as non-foreign, preventing the immune system from attacking them. Cloaking nanoparticles in such membranes allows them to slip past the defense system unnoticed, so they can deliver drugs to sites in the body without confrontation. (Hanna Sӧrensson, Flickr, Creative Commons)

Friend or Foe? Getting the body to make peace with bioengineered drug delivery systems

Recent drug discoveries promise new treatments and cures for many diseases. However, getting a drug to work, not only in experiments with cells in the lab, but also in the human body, is difficult. One challenge? Getting past the body’s line of defense, the immune system, which fights foreign invaders that make it into the body. In September, a news article reported that scientists have … Continue reading Friend or Foe? Getting the body to make peace with bioengineered drug delivery systems

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From the kitchen to the lab: how sushi dinners may lead to new pain therapies

by Vivian Chou figures by Anna Maurer What do sushi and pain therapy have in common? The answer lies in a tiny protein in our bodies called TRPA1, nicknamed the “wasabi receptor.” For over a decade, scientists have been fascinated by the TRPA1 receptor, which allows us to taste the stinging, burning flavors of the popular Japanese condiment wasabi. This last April 2015, TRPA1 shot … Continue reading From the kitchen to the lab: how sushi dinners may lead to new pain therapies

Visualizing DNA on a DNA gel. While the techniques to visualize and analyze DNA are commonplace, our understanding of what a mutation means in the context of the genome is still lacking.

Is Disease in My Future? How Your Genome Might One Day Answer That Question

Many human diseases are influenced by genetics, and scientists and doctors have attempted to understand the connection between rare mutations in a person’s genome, called genetic variants, and the likelihood of a disease outcome. Some variants can have little to no effect on a person developing a particular disease, while others can have a much larger impact and are considered disease-causing, or pathogenic. Doctors often … Continue reading Is Disease in My Future? How Your Genome Might One Day Answer That Question

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A potential new weapon against heart disease: PCSK9 inhibitors

by Mary E. Gearing figures by Kristen Seim Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States [1]. Today, patients with a family history of heart disease or risk factors such as elevated “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol) are commonly treated with statin drugs such as Lipitor, which decrease the amount of cholesterol a person makes. Although statins effectively … Continue reading A potential new weapon against heart disease: PCSK9 inhibitors