Month: June 2017

Four simple rules that are sufficient to generate the mammalian blastocyst

Early mammalian development is a fascinating example of how deterministic spatiotemporal patterns emerge at the level of cell populations from highly stochastic regulatory components. During mouse preimplantation development, sequential lineage decisions take place, and these decisions are marked by the expression of lineage-determining transcription factors.

Multidrug Resistant Superbugs

Antibiotics have been extensively used to treat patients with infectious diseases for the last 70 years. As these drugs have been used widely for long time, the organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective. This can be prevented through selective separation, identification and eradication using fluorescent, magnetic multifunctional carbon dots.

Forest Elephant Crisis in the Congo Basin

Between 1970 and 1989, half of Africa’s elephants (Loxodonta africana), perhaps 700,000 individuals, were killed, mostly to supply the international ivory trade. This catastrophic decline prompted the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) to list African elephants on Appendix I of the convention, banning the international ivory trade.

Biowaste to Biofuel

The inspiration for our project comes from the Millennium Project, which is a global foresight network on behalf of humanity for building a better future that informs the world of the emerging energy crisis.

Flight Speeds among Bird Species: Allometric and Phylogenetic Effects

A full evaluation of the applicability of aerodynamic scaling rules must be based, not on theoretically derived speeds, but on empirical measurements of airspeeds of a wide variety of bird species in natural cruising flight. Here, we present tracking radar measurements of flight speeds of 138 species from six main monophyletic groups, which were analysed in relation to biometry (m, S, and wingspan b) and evolutionary origin (as reflected by phylogenetic group).

Biomechanics of Velocity

The purpose of this experiment was to determine what formula would most accurately represent the velocity of an individual’s walking, speed walking, or jogging pace based on the length of their leg. Finding the correct formula could give amputees as easier transition to their new leg.

Feeding the World

With the human population growing much faster than the rate of food being grown, the food crisis has never been more evident. In fact, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that production will need to almost double in order to meet that demand — and so far, no one is entirely clear on how to do that.

Ever since the first crop was domesticated in 9300 BCE, humans have created several methods to address food problems. In fact, today’s crop practices are dominated by fertilisers, pesticides, and GMOs.

Recently, plant biologists at the University of California have begun heading a new front of “getting more bang for their agricultural buck.” Their research returned to the beginning of it all: photosynthesis. Although it’s the very foundation of all life on Earth, photosynthesis is surprisingly inefficient. Indeed, many crops only use about 1% to 2% of the light that hits a leaf. In order to address this drawback, scientists looked into the plant’s “sun-shield” mechanism called nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ).

NPQ is the plant’s natural defence against excessively bright sunlight by converting photons into harmless heat. And like someone who forgets to doff their sunglasses indoors, this botanical sun shield takes hours to turn off when a shadow passes over a leaf. In 2004, Stephen Long and colleagues from the University of Illinois in Urbana calculated that NPQ can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide turned into sugars by up to 30%. The result: sloppy photosynthesis.

After reading Long’s paper, Krishna Niyogi of the UCLA had an idea to turn off NPQ faster. The strategy was to add extra copies of three genes whose proteins should speed the response to shade. Niyogi, Long, and their postdocs took these genes from the widely studied mustard Arabidopsis thaliana and inserted them into tobacco plants, which are quick and easy to test. The modified tobacco bulked up their leaves, stems, and roots, weighing 14% to 20% more than unmodified plants after 22 days.

Although more research is needed to see if modifications result in unaccounted consequences, this research could have potentially have a global impact.

A Future without Illness: Gene Editing with CRISPR

When a baby is born & if their immune system is compromised or there is a tiny mistake in the DNA sequence along the X chromosome, the neutrophils in the baby’s blood will be incapacitated.

Fasting regulates EGR1 and protects from glucose- and dexamethasone-dependent sensitization to chemotherapy

Despite advances in cancer therapy, the standard of care predominantly includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or their combination. These treatments are associated with a multitude of side effects ranging from discomfort to the development of secondary tumors and severe toxicity to multiple systems.

Building Low-Cost Prosthetics

Building low-cost prosthetics by SLAM scanning the residual limbs of amputees.

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