In a recent article in Drug Discovery Today Paul Branthwaite writesOutsourcing any knowledge-based element, large or small, on grounds of cost, without fully understanding what that actually means when you hand influence on critical issues over to an outside organization can be a risky endeavour. Drug development strategy, design and decision-making require disease area knowledge, experience, judgement and ‘feel’. When you put that in context of whole development programmes, multiplied by th........ Read more »
Branthwaite, P. (2009) The shrinking of the knowledge base – what is the impact of this on the speed and security of drug development?. Drug Discovery Today. DOI: 10.1016/j.drudis.2009.10.004
Drive for creating synthetic biofuels is gaining momenta. In fact synthetic biology community is trying to use bacteria and yeast as platform to creat biofuels. To this end microbes can convert the simple fermentable sugar into ethanol or other products. Plants are naturally abundant source of renewable biofuel and as matter of fact most of fossil fuel such as oil and gas have been formed from the anaerobic decomposition of prehistoric plants and animals. Formation of fossil fuel is a very sl........ Read more »
Lionetti, V., Francocci, F., Ferrari, S., Volpi, C., Bellincampi, D., Galletti, R., D'Ovidio, R., De Lorenzo, G., & Cervone, F. (2009) Engineering the cell wall by reducing de-methyl-esterified homogalacturonan improves saccharification of plant tissues for bioconversion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(2), 616-621. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0907549107
A sense of agency is the feeling that you're initiating and controlling your own movements. This can go awry in schizophrenia, when individuals can experience delusions of control (Lafargue & Franck, 2009). In this state, the patient feels as if external forces are performing actions against his will. Loss of agency also occurs in alien hand syndrome, a rare and unusual neurological disorder in which the affected patient loses volitional control of one hand, which develops "a mind of its own........ Read more »
There is something faintly pathetic about the Y-chromosome when its lined up with its peers in a karyotype. Each of the 22 numbered chromosomes pair off with a near identical partner just their size while the Y has to shape up to the X which has more than twice as much DNA and 25 times as many functional genes.
The puny Y-chromosome only looks worse when you realise that mammalian sex chromosomes weren't always so mismatched. 160 million years ago the X and Y were just another pair of chro........ Read more »
Hughes, J., Skaletsky, H., Pyntikova, T., Graves, T., van Daalen, S., Minx, P., Fulton, R., McGrath, S., Locke, D., Friedman, C.... (2010) Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08700
Almost a year ago, we discussed briefly the Krill Surplus Hypothesis. In this model, the removal of large baleen whales created a competitive release for Minke whales, Balaenoptera bonaerensis, exponentially increasing their food supply and and allowing their population to boom. By removing all other krill eating whale from the Antarctic, Minke whales were allowed [...]... Read more »
RUEGG, K., ANDERSON, E., SCOTT BAKER, C., VANT, M., JACKSON, J., & PALUMBI, S. (2010) Are Antarctic minke whales unusually abundant because of 20th century whaling?. Molecular Ecology, 19(2), 281-291. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04447.x
Proteins are one of the key molecules inside cells; involved in signalling, intracellular transport, metabolism and gene control. They rarely work alone, most of the proteins in the cell are part of large complex networks consisting of many interacting proteins. Various techniques exist in order to find these interactions, and one of the most common is the use of yeast two hybrid systems.Yeast is apparently quite a nice organism to work with (I've never worked with it myself, I must say, apart ........ Read more »
Brückner A, Polge C, Lentze N, Auerbach D, & Schlattner U. (2009) Yeast two-hybrid, a powerful tool for systems biology. International journal of molecular sciences, 10(6), 2763-88. PMID: 19582228
Young-Tae Chang (National University of Singapore) and coworkers have synthesized a molecule which will be very useful for probing mitochondrial dysfunction, implicated as a factor in neurodegenerative diseases, cancers, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions. This news feature was written on January 14, 2010.... Read more »
Kim, Y. K., Ha, H.-H., Lee, J.-S., Bi, X., Ahn, Y.-H., Hajar, S., Lee, J.-J., & Chang, Y.-T. (2010) Control of Muscle Differentiation by a Mitochondria-Targeted Fluorophore. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 132(2), 576-579. DOI: 10.1021/ja906862g
There have been many new developments in quantum computing during the last few years, but last Sunday a paper appeared in Nature Chemistry that shows how far the area really has come. It seems that now things are getting really interesting: American and Australian scientists just built a quantum circuit that calculated the energy Eigenvalues [...]... Read more »
This article from PLoS ONE, provides a very clear, apt example of just how delicate this biome can be, and illustrates the services that native animals can provide in an ecosystem that would cost considerable sums to replace.... Read more »
Ceballos, G., Davidson, A., List, R., Pacheco, J., Manzano-Fischer, P., Santos-Barrera, G., & Cruzado, J. (2010) Rapid Decline of a Grassland System and Its Ecological and Conservation Implications. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008562
We've discussed synesthesia many times before on Cognitive Daily -- it's the seemingly bizarre phenomenon when one stimulus (e.g. a sight or a sound) is experienced in multiple modalities (e.g. taste, vision, or colors). For example, a person might experience a particular smell whenever a given word or letter is seen or heard. Sometimes particular faces are associated with specific colors or auras. Synesthesia is relatively rare, but the people who experience it are genuine: their perceptions ar........ Read more »
Bargary G, Barnett KJ, Mitchell KJ, & Newell FN. (2009) Colored-speech synaesthesia is triggered by multisensory, not unisensory, perception. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 20(5), 529-33. PMID: 19476587
Childhood obesity is becoming a hot topic in health circles, even to the point of being called an epidemic. Experts estimate that 20% of children between the ages of 6 and 17 are overweight, predisposing them to terrible diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Why have the world’s children ballooned over the past hundred years?... Read more »
Evans CE, Greenwood DC, Thomas JD, & Cade JE. (2010) A cross-sectional survey of children's packed lunches in the UK: food- and nutrient-based results. Journal of epidemiology and community health. PMID: 20089755
Xing-Fang Li (University of Alberta, Canada) and coworkers have added to concerns that unknown carcinogens may be lurking in treated water. This news feature was written on January 14, 2010.... Read more »
Qin, F., Zhao, Y.-Y., Zhao, Y., Boyd, J. M., Zhou, W., & Li, X.-F. (2009) A Toxic Disinfection By-product, 2,6-Dichloro-1,4-benzoquinone, Identified in Drinking Water. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200904934
The necessary length of time from an initial scientific breakthrough to a tried and tested application, clinical or otherwise, can often tarnish the initial thrill of that first result, or even make you forget about it altogether. I have a photograph of my then three year old daughter sitting on the breakfast bar in the [...]... Read more »
The GlaxoSmithKline Vaccine HPV-007 Study Group. (2009) Sustained efficacy and immunogenicity of the human papillomavirus (HPV)-16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine: analysis of a randomised placebo-controlled trial up to 6·4 years. The Lancet, 374(9706), 1975-1985. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61567-1
Scientists studying the Lost City hydrothermal vent field have found what appears to be microbes just waiting to thrive; that is, when their perfect ecosystem arrives. At the Lost City, microbes known to be rare in hotter, more active vents flourish in the cooler, moderated ecosystem of the older vent. And when those microbes’ ideal environment [...]
... Read more »
Brazelton, W., Ludwig, K., Sogin, M., Andreishcheva, E., Kelley, D., Shen, C., Edwards, R., & Baross, J. (2010) Archaea and bacteria with surprising microdiversity show shifts in dominance over 1,000-year time scales in hydrothermal chimneys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905369107
As a grad student in anthropological genetics, one of the more tedious tasks I had was aligning mtDNA sequences manually, noting the mutations (differences from the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence, which belongs to haplogroup H), and determining the haplogroup (or lineage). The difficulty was compounded by a lack of comprehensive definitions. I had a stack [...]... Read more »
van Oven, M., & Kayser, M. (2009) Updated comprehensive phylogenetic tree of global human mitochondrial DNA variation. Human Mutation, 30(2). DOI: 10.1002/humu.20921
Pied Flycatcher / Photo by Simon Eugster via WikimediaMany bird species are known to cooperate to mob and scold predators such as hawks, owls, or outdoor cats. In North America this behavior is probably most noticeable among jays and crows since they form the loudest mobs. Chickadees and titmice likewise gather to scold a predator when one is found. Other species may participate or use their own cooperative actions to confuse and drive away predators. The general strategy is to gather around a p........ Read more »
Krams, I., Berzins, A., Krama, T., Wheatcroft, D., Igaune, K., & Rantala, M. (2009) The increased risk of predation enhances cooperation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1681), 513-518. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1614
I’ve just come across a 2006 University of South Africa MA thesis investigating Saudi fast-food ads. The author, Basem Abbas Al Agha, finds that
[…] 97% of the respondents believed that the translations are incomprehensible in Arabic. The other 3% stated that they sometimes understand the translations. (p. 92)
Even if the sample size is rather small, [...]... Read more »
Al Agha, Basem Abbas. (2006) The translation of fast-food advertising texts from English into Arabic. Unpublished MA dissertation, University of South Africa. info:/
Can children get bipolar disorder?It depends who you ask. It's "controversial". Some say that, like schizophrenia, bipolar strikes in adolescence or after, and that pre-pubertal onset is extraordinarily rare. Others say that kids can be, and often are, bipolar, but their symptoms may differ from the ones seen in adults. You know a 20 year old's manic when they stay up for 3 days straight writing a book about how God's chosen them to save the world. A 10 year old, though, is more likely to show ........ Read more »
Parry, P., Furber, G., & Allison, S. (2009) The Paediatric Bipolar Hypothesis: The View from Australia and New Zealand. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 14(3), 140-147. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-3588.2008.00505.x
The late, great Linus Paul, twice Nobel laureate (chemistry and peace) and advocate of mega doses of vitamin C for beating disease and extending life (he died at the ripe old age of 93) was one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century.
He worked out how nature’s catalysts, proteins known as enzymes, speed [...]... Read more »
Simón, L., & Goodman, J. (2009) Enzyme Catalysis by Hydrogen Bonds: The Balance between Transition State Binding and Substrate Binding in Oxyanion Holes. The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/jo901503d
In the conservation world, conventional wisdom holds that restricting the hydrology of a stream is a bad thing. However, a new article in the journal BioSciences provides a contrarian perspective...... Read more »
Jackson, C., & Pringle, C. (2010) Ecological Benefits of Reduced Hydrologic Connectivity in Intensively Developed Landscapes. BioScience, 60(1), 37-46. DOI: 10.1525/bio.2010.60.1.8
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