Monday, February 11, 2008

Bioscience News Roundup: 02-11-08

Some interesting bioscience bits from the past week:

io9 reports on the open source biohacking community. You can join the community yourself at Sourceforge.
Join the fight against cancer, against all sorts of disease! Or would you rather see some glowing bacterium, get your own ecoli farm set up to amaze your friends? This open, free synthetic biology kit contains all sorts of information from across the web on how to do it: how to extract and amplify DNA, cloning techniques, making DNA by what's known as oligonucleotides, and all sorts of other tutorials and documents on techniques in genetic engineering, tissue engineering, synbio (synthetic biology), stem cell research, SCNT, evolutionary engineering, bioinformatics, etc. And since the project is open, it's free for you to revise or share your experiences, or even share your genes (got anything cool?). The more eyes, the better-- you can't ignore these awesome possibilities (or even the not-so-cool ones*).
The big bioscience story was the creation of a human three parent embryo: the nucleus from a traditionally-created (if that's the right term) in vitro fertilized embryo was transferred into a donor egg. The donor egg had most of its DNA removed, but still contained mitochondria. More at Genetics and Health

Mind Hacks writes about the 1959 special issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry on 'space psychiatry'.

PLoS Biology published an article about chameleons using color change as social signals. Wired has the basics, including a funky chameleon video.

Bruce Sterling writes about work by the Army to hack mitochondria:
Oxford University biochemists look for ways to get mitochondria to feed on fats, instead of sugars -- without all the nasty side-effects of a constant cheeseburger binge. (((Did I mention it also makes you slender, sexy, and ravenously erotic at the age of 60? See if you can't slither through that rusting thicket of bayonets surrounding at the mitochondria plant, ladies))) If the scientists are successful, small rations of the ketone cuisine could boost a soldier's stamina, and maybe even keep him nourished for days at a time....
The Neurophilosophy blog has video from the World Economic Summit in Davos:
In this film, Scoble talks to the Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, who discussed his recent experiments in which a monkey with a brain-computer interface implanted into its motor cortex controlled the movements of a robot that was located more than 7,000 miles away.
New Scientist writes about a "DNA-based fabricator" created by CalTech bioengineers. They used it to create "two-legged DNA molecules that walk along a ladder-like track."

They also report on a nifty ink jet printer designed by scientists at Wake Forest to "print" using cells rather than ink.

Technology Review reports on recent experiments towards gene therapy for chronic pain
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine injected a virus carrying the gene for an endogenous opioid--a chemical naturally produced by the body that has the same effect as opiate painkillers such as morphine--directly into the spinal fluid of rats. The injections were targeted to regions of the spinal cord called the dorsal root ganglia, which act as a "pain gate" by intercepting pain signals from the body on their way to the brain. "You can stop pain transmission at the spinal level so that pain impulses never reach the brain," says project leader Andreas Beutler, an assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology at Mount Sinai.
It looks like there is one common ancestor for the blue-eyed.

Forbes looks at how to cheat death

Nature reports that insect-eating plants produce useful enzymes (subscription required)

Carnivorous plants are not the first organisms to come to mind when searching for biomedical compounds. Yet, like something from science fiction, researchers are discovering enzymes in the digestive fluids of carnivorous pitcher plants that could prove useful in controlling infections.

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1 comment:

dionysus with one n said...

Me and my wife have 3 kids through in vitro fertilization, we also donated the remaining eggs to a couple and they are expecting their first child now

http://dionysus-atheist.blogspot.com/2008/02/donating-eggs.html

We did 2 cycles and both resulted in pregnancies, the first one resulted in one child, the second one in twins (not identical)