Monthly Archives: April 2012

Genetic makeup of drug resistant, Sexually Transmitted Infectious parasite decoded

The nuisance and worries of one of the most common sexually transmitted infections ‘ trichomoniasis ‘ can now be brought under control as the genetic makeup of the parasite has been decoded. The parasite has become increasingly drug resistant? But, to find a solution, this decoding was needed. The new finding reveals potential clues suggesting possible pathways for the disease’s new treatments, diagnostics and a potential vaccine strategy. The genome sequencing project was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Details on it being published in the January 12 issue of Science, the project is a part of the National Institutes of Health. NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D said, The progress that continues to be made in deciphering the genomes of organisms, such as the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite, helps to further our collective scientific understanding of these organisms, so that we can better address public health issues. And, NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D said, By better understanding the genetic makeup of the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite that causes trichomoniasis, we can target our efforts to developing the most effective medicines to treat the infection and potentially create a way to prevent infection altogether.

Get ready for world’s first genetically modified potato

You love the French fries at Mc Donald’s but do you know that the potatoes which make these mouth watering fries are sourced from Idaho which is known for producing excellent varieties of potatoes. Now in order to add some more punch to the potatoes, an Idaho based company is making efforts towards splicing potato genes for creation of world’s first genetically modified potato which would be even more tastier and resistant to bruises and sprouts. As of now the research is in the preliminary stages and the new potato is the genetically modified Russet Ranger but it would take another five to ten years before which Simplot could sell the GM variety of potato and give a fight to unmodified Russet Burbanks which finds a place in a number of fast food chains worldwide. With consumers a bit skeptical about genetically modified foods, lets see how far this GM potato goes.

Genetically Modified skin cells can arrest infection in burn patients

Burn patients are very much prone to infection and some of the modern techniques such as cultured skin graft have also not been able to arrest the growth of infection on a patient inflicted by burns. Researchers have found out that genetically modified skin cells when added to cultured skin substitutes can be quite effective in fighting deadly infections in the case of burn patients. The team headed by Dorothy Supp has discovered that genetically modified skin cells are quite effective in producing high levels of human beta defensin which kills more bacteria when compared with ordinary skin cells. Dorothy Supp commented: If we can add these genetically modified cells to bioengineered skin substitutes, it would provide an important defense system boost during the initial grafting period, when the skin is most susceptible to infection. This discovery would certainly help in saving lives of a number of burn patients who die every year due to deadly skin infections.

Biotechnology to solve ethanol problems

A high-profile report released in U.S by Earth Policy Institute had stated that the ethanol industry of U.S might have an adverse impact on grain prices and even cause food riots worldwide but experts from the field of biotechnology have stated that they would never let this happen and fulfill all the requirements for food and fuel. In order to deal with this issue industrial biotech companies are creating new enzymes which would improve the ethanol production process and convert the cellulosic crop residues to fuel in an economic manner. Biofuel is being seen as an alternative fuel which would meet the needs of half of the world in the future. This sector is working hard for increasing the productivity of corn in an economically viable manner and also convert it into ethanol for meeting our increasing fuel requirements. The biotech industry feels that ethanol will not only meet our fuel requirements but also meet the needs of food in an affordable manner and that day is not far off.

Key points in the human genome mapped for treatment of diseases

Key points in human genome have been mapped by American researchers successfully and this is expected to aid in the development of treatments for cancer and a host of other diseases. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute doctors have been able to chart positions of nucleosomes throughout the human genome. This piece of information has found a place in Nature Biotechnology where gene micro array studies was used which was followed by computational data analysis for pinning down the locations of nucleosome. This discovery is expected to aid in treatment of cancer and a host of other diseases and probably also throw some light on cloning. It is the first study which has presented a global view on human nucleosome positioning. The study states that nucleosome positioning controls the genes and they can relocate if the requirements of a particular cell change.

Proteins similar to antibodies can be produced using plant seeds

Researchers have developed plant seeds proteins which are quite similar to antibodies. These have been created by Ghent University researchers and are expected to emerge as a cheaper alternative to medication produced currently. The researchers showed that the proteins produced from plant seed were as active as the antibodies which are found in the human body. They could be successfully deployed in medical applications and the ability to create them from plant seeds offers numerous benefits over the traditional methods of production. Since a long time researchers were busy in developing techniques for producing proteins using plant in an efficient manner and since working with plants does not involve the requirement of a high tech laboratory therefore it is expected to bring down the costs of medication by around hundred times. Besides this it would be possible to undertake large scale production without requiring undertaking investments in expensive fermentors. Producing antibodies the natural way, probably looks a good idea to me.

Statin-anti-tumor drug combo’ can kill brain cancer cells dramatically

Brain cancer cells can be killed dramatically by blocking genetic threads in the rich tapestry of cancer-causing biochemical signals with a statin and an experimental anti-tumor drug. Though the pairing of cholesterol-lowering lovastatin and cyclopamine is unlikely, it is found to be able to eventually kill 63 percent of lab-grown medulloblastoma cells, compared to just 20 percent of cells been killed when either agent are used alone. It is by blocking the so-called “hedgehog” pathway, the Cyclopamine works. It is long known for promoting and guiding the growth of cell and organ. With excessive growth being the chief characteristic of cancer, blocking the hedgehog with cyclopamine makes cancer cells more susceptible to lovastatin, the investigators believe. The researchers concludes that the killing of the tumor cells by the new find combo is tantalizing, although the cyclopamine-lovastatin combination has yet to be tested in animals, much less people. These findings by the Hopkins researchers are published in the January issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

Improve livestock productivity with Animal Biotechnology

Most of the developing economies around the world have better crop productivity but seems to be lacking behind in the productivity of livestock. Livestock has an important part to play in the agriculture sector but most of the developing economies have a poor genetic potentiality of indigenous animals and this is causing a lot of problems in the development of live stock in the country. If the productivity is to be improved it would only be possible through genetic improvements of indigenous stock. Animal biotechnology has opened up a number of ways for improving livestock. A number of countries are deploying biotechnology through embryo transfer technology, stem cell biology, proteomics and genomics, bioinformatics, bioinformatics and a number of other technologies. This field is a knowledge driven technology and it requires new ideas and concepts for developing new tools and processes for innovative models. If benefit is to be derived from the field of animal biotechnology then a pool of talent is required from a number of disciplines such as chemistry, microbiology, bioinformatics, biofinancing and bioenterprise.

Boc5 molecule can control obesity and diabetes

There is some good news for people suffering from obesity. Researchers at the University of California have discovered a small molecule which could play a pivotal role in controlling diabetes which is a slow killer disease and help in development of treatment for adult onset diabetes. Called as Boc5, this molecule leads to stimulation of insulin function in response to high glucose levels. It has also been found out to bring down the weight of a person by nearly twenty percent. This molecule leads to the production of intestinal hormone which metabolizes glucose. It is being labeled as the first small molecule activator for Class B GPCRs which leads to regulation of hormones in a number of human physiological processes. The discovery of Boc5 has opened up new avenues for supporting future research. It is expected that this molecule will help in controlling both diabetes and obesity which are some of the silent killer diseases.

Roundup resistant soybean varieties get a facelift with biotechnology

Soybean is a very important crop and researchers have plans for the next hundred years to work on the genetic code of this crop in order to produce better soybean crop. Already this crop has benefited from biotechnology when roundup resistant varieties were introduced in 1996. The first generation of the crop yielded good results and now it’s becoming a bit difficult to achieve the results of second generation. Monsanto is working around with its technical expertise for creation of second generation roundup resistance varieties and this is expected to improve the productivity with three to five extra bushels per acre. This new crop is expected by the year 2009. This variety would be resistant to Dicamba herbicide. The company is working quite hard to increase the yield of the crop and it’s quite difficult as it is a complex process involving multiple genes but this is expected to bring a drastic change in the productivity of soybeans.