Monthly Archives: February 2012

Secrecy surrounding genetically engineered grapes field tests can have serious repercussions

UC Davis and Cornell University have the approval for testing genetically engineered grapes in California. In this case no application or environmental assessments were undertaken for the permits and there were just notifications given by the institutes. As far as the field tests are concerned there seems to be a veil of secrecy surrounding them therefore grape growers are not aware regarding the measures which need to be taken for protecting their vineyards from genetic contamination which could dent their image and even cause huge losses if the customers shun genetically engineered products. USDA was even criticized for not paying attention towards the field trials being undertaken and the U.S. Inspector General report said: USDA lacks basic information about the field test sites it approves and is responsible for monitoring, including where and how the crops are being grown, and what becomes of them at the end of the field test. It was only last month when a federal judge ruling stated that USDA cannot give approval for new GE field trials without environmental assessments but this wont be applicable to the grape field tests which have been already given permission. Such secrecy is expected to cause huge problems in the future for GE foods and if proper study and transparency is not ensured then genetically modified food will have a tough time ahead.

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Smartgels can avoid surgery for chronic lower back pain patients

University of Manchester scientists have figured out that injections of sponge-like particles could help in avoiding surgery required in case of chronic lower back pain. The researchers have developed tiny gel particles which when injected into the damaged area tend to swell and stiffen. It has been discovered that degenerated animal intervertebral discs having these injected microgels regained their mechanical properties. If this turns out to be successful then patients would be able to gain their mobility after receiving these injections. When dispersed in water the microgel particles turn into smart sponges. It is a low pH fluid which can be injected with the aid a syringe and at physiological pH values it turns to stiff gel. It was developed in response to the need for non surgical method for repairing of intervertebral discs. In the future we might see biodegradable microgels releasing additives for stimulation of regeneration of intervertebral disc tissue. Via biologynews

Notorious cancer gene may be responsible for tumor growth

A recent study has confirmed that a notorious cancer gene may be the reason for growth of tumor. Research involved the study of a protein called PMR1 which is a major player in the unusual mechanism that cells use for restraining the production of important proteins. Daniel R. Schoenberg, Professor, molecular and cellular biochemistry stated: The link between Src and cancer was discovered 30 years ago, but to this day, we still don’t know its exact role in tumor development. Our data suggest that Src may promote cancer by causing PMR1 to halt production of proteins that normally put the brakes on cell growth – tumor-suppressor proteins, for example, or other growth-regulating proteins The researchers figured out that activation takes place when PMR1 is joined temporarily by an unidentified enzyme and a contact with these enzymes leads to some changes in PMR1 properties and it also binds its targets mRNA. Via biologynews

Preserve meats the ‘green way’ using green tea and some wildflower dark honey

Now you can avoid those chemical preservatives used to reduce pathogenic bacteria in meats. Go the ‘green’ way inspite. Extracts from green tea or Jasmine tea do all the magic taking the help of some wildflower dark honey. This scientific non-chemical, organic mixture can reduced Listeria monocytogenes in a turkey breast slice by 10 to 20 percent. Even applied to hot dogs, similar pathogen reductions have been observed. Daniel Fung, the Kansas State University food science professor who supervised the research for the Food Safety Consortium said, Our results indicated that Jasmine tea with honey and green tea with honey had the highest antimicrobial activity. Innovative and impertinent Fung said, We’re thinking of using tea to wash carcasses because of its natural compounds. If you can use tea or honey to wash carcasses instead of lactic acid, you can use a natural compound on the surface of meat.

Bdelloid rotifers evolving over the past forty million years without sex

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Soluble Omega-3 fats for cosmetics developed by Zymes

A water soluble omega 3 fatty acid has been developed by Zymes using nanotechnology for cosmetic applications. Since Omega 3 has got a dense composition of oil therefore at times it becomes difficult for formulating it with other ingredients. Here nanotechnology comes into picture as it offers increased solubility along with bioavailability and particle size reduction at nanometer level which leads to increased opportunities for companies looking to supplement their products with natural functional ingredients. Ubisol-Aqua from Zymes implements nanotechnology for improving the solubility of drugs and ingredients which are water insoluble and hence it becomes difficult for the human body to absorb it. The company has developed an omega 3fatty acid with 34 nanometers which implies that smaller particles could be absorbed easily into the skin or hair shaft of the user. It is also expected to increase the health benefits to the consumers. Via cosmeticdesign

Ruckus over FDA’s approval to food from cloned animals

The Food and Drug Administration is facing criticism over its recent preliminary approval to food from cloned animals as a consumer group has charged the agency for using flawed analysis. According to the Center for Food Safety, the FDA could not find studies on milk or meat from clones and whether they’re safe and the agency relied on studies done on cloned animals and whether they appeared healthy. Claiming that the conclusions drawn by the FDA was based on ‘scant data from few peer-reviewed studies’, Charles Margulis, a spokesman for Center for Food Safety, said: There isn’t the science to show that these foods are safe. I think the agency was heavily influenced by the biotechnology industry. Though FDA was tight lipped, Val Giddings, a scientist who consults with biotechnology companies, has come forward in FDA’s defence. According to Giddings an exhaustive amount of peer-reviewed data was the base of the conclusion. Giddings said: There’s not a single shred of data to suggest that food derived from clones or their offspring is in any way unsafe. All of what FDA has done here has been completely transparent. The FDA found that food from clones and food from conventional livestock has no virtual difference between and therefore special labels for cloned food would be necessary. Center for Food Safety might be in the process of waging a war against the FDA but Dean Foods Co. of Dallas has already decided to go against the idea of cloned food. Nations biggest milk company has decided it would not sell milk from cloned cows. The company’s decision was influenced by various surveys suggesting the dislike for dairy products from clones by Americans. Source.

South Korea again gives a go ahead to use of human eggs in cloning research

South Korea is playing a risky game as it has given the permission for using human eggs in cloning research despite a high level scandal in their country which involved one of their top scientists admitting to his involvement in doctored research work. Hwang Woo-suk was the scientist who had claimed that he had cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them but it was found out that all his claims were false. What raised eyes were when eggs required for research were donated by a female scientist in his team and this questioned the ethics of such practice. This shameful incident caused Hwang Woo-suk to resign from his post at the Seoul National University and is now facing trial for misappropriation of government funds. In order to get over the shameful act the government has again given a go ahead to use of human eggs in cloning but this time with an act of caution and under a new set of guidelines has asked that researchers should only use eggs which are to be destroyed after fertility treatments or from other legal ways and a prior license would have to be obtained from the government for undertaking research. It seems this time South Korea wants to take no chances. Via theage

B-12 vitamin puzzle solved by MIT biologist

This mystery had troubled researchers for decades but Harvard and MIT researchers have finally been able to join all the pieces together. They have been able to figure out the last link of the synthesis pathway of vitamin B-12. This vitamin makes an immense contribution to the health of human beings. The researchers found out that a single enzyme synthesis the fragment and this outlines a new reaction mechanism which requires cannibalization of another vitamin. Graham Walker, Professor of biology, MIT stated: The work, which has roots in an MIT undergraduate teaching laboratory, completes a piece of our understanding of a process very fundamental to life. Researchers have now come to know that a mutant which has a defective form of enzyme known as BluB results ion B12 not being synthesized. Now a question which still needs to be solved is at to why soil bacteria synthesize B12 at all. Let’s hope the researchers come up with an answer for this question too. Via biologynews

New technology licensed by Pain Therapeutics for treating hemophilia

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