MIT Discovers a Solution to Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Mit_logo_2All of the typical ethical and political debates against embryonic stem cell research may no longer be viable points of argument. Scientists at MIT have successfully created embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos in the process.

Dr. Rudolph Jaenisch, the founder of the Whitehead Institute, professor of biology at MIT, and pioneer of transgenic science—the study of altering an animal’s genetic makeup to produce a variant of a human disease—led a team of researchers from MIT, Whitehead, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to the discovery.

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Biological Computers: The Future of Medicine?

Biocomputerbig_0“Each human cell already has all of the tools required to build these biocomputers on its own. All that must be provided is a genetic blueprint of the machine and our own biology will do the rest. Your cells will literally build these biocomputers for you,” says Harvard’s Yaakov (Kobi) Benenson.

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The "Mickey Mouse" Experiment -Mice with Human Eyes

Mickey_mouse_disney_mascotAs part of a study to find a cure for colorblindness, scientists have successfully created a genetically modified mouse that can see like humans. Regular mice, like most other mammals, only register light in the blue and green regions of the spectrum, but the GM mice were able see red light as well – a trick that so far only monkeys, apes and people have mastered.

Men are at greater risk than women of being color blind because color vision genes are located on the X-chromosome. Since women have two X chromosomes, odds are good that at least one will carry the normal genes. This study provides hope that color-blindness in human is correctable.

As part of the study, scientists inserted a human gene into the genome responsible for generating a particular protein in the retina of the animal's eye that was sensitive to light at the red end of the visible spectrum. Unlike unmodified mice, the GM mice demonstrated that they were now able to learn how to sense red light - just like monkeys, apes and people.

Jeremy Nathans, of the Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland, said that the study emulates the important evolutionary transition in early primate mammals from dichromatic (two color) vision to full trichromatic (three color) vision, which is estimated to have occurred 40 million years ago. Original post by Rebecca Sato.


Mysteries of the Human Brain

Shutterstock_1993677_1Join Charlie Rose in a brilliant discussion and analysis of the mysteries of the human brian with Paul Nurse, president of Rockefeller University and Dr. Eric Kandel of Columbia University.

Dr. Nurse, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist, focused his research on the molecular machinery that drives cell division and controls cell shape. Dr. Kandel, a neuroscientist and professor of biochemistry and biophysics, won  the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. Posted By Casey Kazan.

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Biologists "Trick" Viruses into Extinction

Hivlifecycle Yale biologists are reversing the logic of species extinction by trying to trap viruses in habitats that force their extinction.

To avoid going extinct a population must not only survive, but also reproduce. Yale's Paul Turner, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, tested the practicality of luring a virus population into the wrong cells within the human body, thus preventing virus reproduction and alleviating disease. Posted by Casey Kazan

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China's Scientists Vote World's 10 Great Scientific Advances of '06

Darkallz0_1 The 10 most significant developments in science and technology in the world last year, reported the People's Daily Online, were voted as follows by members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering: ranging from "Stardust" comet samples, to growing organ samples from stem cells, first nano generator, first direct sample of dark matter (image on left), to a "connectivity map" linking drug to diseases.

Top 10 '06 Scientific Advances

Hot Zone: Scientists Unlock Secret of 1918 "Spanish Flu" Pandemic

Remember the film, "Outbreak," starring Dustin Hoffman? In 1989, in a quarantine facility in the town of Reston, Va., a lethal virus broke out among imported monkeys. America faced an outbreak of the highly contagious Ebola virus, which kills by massive internal hemorrhage and is capable of jumping from one species to another. It has been said that Ebola does in 10 days what HIV does in 10 years.

_42462673_flu_cred203_1Back in 1918 the "Spanish Flu" virus killed up to 50 million people, and was recreated recently when a Canadian Laboratory rebuilt the virus and witnessed its awesome killing power first hand, when lungs of infected monkeys were destroyed in just days as their immune systems went into overdrive.

The reason for the lethal nature of the 1918 flu was never fully understood. But the experts behind this test say they have found a human gene which may help explain its unusual virulence.

Despite the large number of casualties at the time, doctor had no way to preserve tissue samples taken from infected patients, until recently, when the preserved body of a flu victim buried in Alaskan permafrost was exhumed, and they painstakingly extracted the genetic material needed to work out the structure of the virus.

In a maximum "biosafety" facility at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory they reconstructed a fully functioning virus from the genetic material, and infected macaque monkeys to see what would happen.

Symptoms appeared within 24 hours of exposure to the virus, and the subsequent destruction of lung tissue was so widespread that, had the monkeys not been put to sleep a few days later, they would literally have drowned in their own blood.

The results are very similar to those described in human patients at the time the virus was at its peak in 1918.