New protein discovery could change biotech forever

The quest started with trying to make better yogurt.

Bacteria that uses a tiny molecular machine to kill attacking viruses could change the way that scientists edit the DNA of plants, animals and fungi, revolutionizing genetic engineering. The protein, called Cas9, is quite simply a way to more accurately cut a piece of DNA.

 

 

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Flipping a single molecular switch can make an old brain young

Scientists have long known that the young and old brains are very different.

A single molecular switch, that when flipped, helps create the mature neuronal connections that allow the brain to bridge the gap between adolescent impressionability and adult stability.

 

 

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New research and tools promise to improve life for the colorblind

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For people who are colorblind, daily life can be a challenge. Daily challenges range from not knowing whether meat is fully cooked to not being able to read whether a horizontal traffic light is showing green or red. More serious repercussions include being shut out of a dream job, like piloting planes, because misreading landing-strip lights can have life-or-death consequences.

 

 

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Genetically engineered mice can detect explosives 500 times better than normal mice

Scientists inserted a gene into odor sensing neurons in mice that could drastically increase their ability to smell TNT.

Mice have been genetically modified by scientists in hopes of increasing their ability to smell TNT with 500 times the sensitivity of normal mice. If successful, the mice could provide a cheap and effective way to sniff out landmines and other explosive devices that haunt nations all over the world.

 

 

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DNA sequencing is improving faster than Moore’s law

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzSXTWhBUD0&hd=1[/youtube]

The cost of sequencing genomes has declined 50% faster per year than the cost of computers, since 2007. Declining sequencing costs have been due to a combination of Moore’s law and massive scaleups. An author and an expert on the life sciences industry, Juan Enriquez, runs a venture capital fund that invests in life science startups that could produce useful products and treatments within the next five years.  He also engages in more long-term forecasting. In an interview for Next Big Future, Enriquez discusses the exponential rate of change for biotechnology with Sander Olson. Enrique also discusses why he believes that the changes wrought by the biosciences during the next three decades could surpass the industrial revolution in importance. (video)

 

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DNA from a crime scene could help police create an image of suspect’s face

The genes researchers found only have small effects, and are only linked with a limited number of features.

One day, police may be able to reconstruct the shape of a suspect’s face from their DNA. Thanks to identification of five genes that contribute to facial shape and features that possibility is getting closer.

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7 top medical breakthroughs coming in the next decade

nanobot

Nanobot

An effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, a cure for the common cold, gene therapy that destroys cancers, transplant organs grown in the lab.  These medical miracles are no longer the dreams of science fiction, but are likely coming in the next decade, say experts.

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Turkey researchers working hard to build a better bird

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Eastern wild turkeys have that classic turkey look, but domesticated turkeys are generally bred with breasts so big that they can’t mate naturally.

A majority of today’s domesticated turkeys may not be able to fly, but their ancestors sure got around. Meleagris gallopavo, the quintessential New World bird, was already an Old World favorite by the time colonists in North America first celebrated any Thanksgiving feasts. Today’s turkey researchers are investigating the big bird’s genetic heritage and biology as part of an effort to improve several aspects of its cultivation.

 

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Grains of rice genetically modified to produce human blood

blood-donor

Blood protein from genetically modified rice could ease demand for blood donations.

Genetically modified grains of rice produce a key component of human blood in an attempt to provide an alternative to donations. The protein, extracted from rice plants containing human genes, could be used in hospitals to treat burns victims and help patients who have suffered severe blood loss.

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