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Small molecule acts as on-off switch for nature’s antibiotic factory: Tells Streptomyces to either veg out or get busy

Small molecule acts as on-off switch for nature’s antibiotic factory: Tells Streptomyces to either veg out or get busy

Scientists have identified the developmental on-off switch for Streptomyces, a group of soil microbes that produce more than two-thirds of the world’s naturally derived antibiotic medicines. Their hope now would be to see whether it is possible to manipulate this switch to make nature’s antibiotic factory more efficient. Continue reading

Synthesis produces new fungus-derived antibiotic

Synthesis produces new fungus-derived antibiotic

A fortuitous collaboration at Rice University has led to the total synthesis of a recently discovered natural antibiotic. The laboratory recreation of a fungus-derived antibiotic, viridicatumtoxin B, may someday help bolster the fight against bacteria that evolve resistance to treatments in hospitals and clinics around the world. Continue reading

Bioengineers close to brewing opioid painkillers without using opium from poppies

Bioengineers close to brewing opioid painkillers without using opium from poppies

For centuries poppy plants have been grown to provide opium, the compound from which morphine and other important medicines such as oxycodone are derived. Now bioengineers at Stanford have hacked the DNA of yeast, reprograming these simple cells to make opioid-based medicines via a sophisticated extension of the basic brewing process that makes beer. Led by Associate Professor of Bioengineering Christina Smolke, the Stanford team has already spent a decade genetically engineering yeast cells to reproduce the biochemistry of poppies with the ultimate goal of producing opium-based medicines, from start to finish, in fermentation vats Continue reading

New ways to treat solid tumors using protein

New ways to treat solid tumors using protein

An international team of scientists has shown that an antibody against the protein EphA3, found in the micro-environment of solid cancers, has anti-tumor effects. As EphA3 is present in normal organs only during embryonic development but is expressed in blood cancers and in solid tumors, this antibody-based approach may be a suitable candidate treatment for solid tumors. The researchers from Monash University and Ludwig Cancer Research, in Australia, and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, in the US, have had their findings published in the journal Cancer Research . Continue reading

Lead released from African cookware contaminates food

Lead released from African cookware contaminates food

Lead levels in foods prepared in aluminum pots from Cameroon exceed U.S. Continue reading

Discovery yields master regulator of toxin production in staph infections

Discovery yields master regulator of toxin production in staph infections

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have discovered an enzyme that regulates production of the toxins that contribute to potentially life-threatening Staphylococcus aureus infections. The study recently appeared in the scientific journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( PNAS ). Continue reading

Discovery yields master regulator of toxin production in staph infections

Discovery yields master regulator of toxin production in staph infections

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have discovered an enzyme that regulates production of the toxins that contribute to potentially life-threatening Staphylococcus aureus infections. The study recently appeared in the scientific journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( PNAS ). Continue reading

New tools advance bio-logic

New tools advance bio-logic

Researchers at Rice University and the University of Kansas Medical Center are making genetic circuits that can perform more complex tasks by swapping protein building blocks. The modular genetic circuits engineered from parts of otherwise unrelated bacterial genomes can be set up to handle multiple chemical inputs simultaneously with a minimum of interference from their neighbors Continue reading

New cellular garbage control pathway with relevance for human neurodegenerative diseases

New cellular garbage control pathway with relevance for human neurodegenerative diseases

Several human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease but also aging, are linked to an accumulation of abnormal and aggregated proteins in cells. Cellular “garbage” of this type can be removed from cells by sweeping them to a cellular recycling station known as the lysosome Continue reading

Effects of starvation can be passed to future generations, through small RNAs apparently without DNA involvement

Effects of starvation can be passed to future generations, through small RNAs apparently without DNA involvement

Evidence from human famines and animal studies suggests that starvation can affect the health of descendants of famished individuals. But how such an acquired trait might be transmitted from one generation to the next has not been clear Continue reading