Cryo-EM analysis reveals Omicron’s strong bond with human cells

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi The first molecular-level analysis of Omicron’s spike protein reveals mutation-induced chemical bonds are behind the new SARS-CoV-2 variant’s increased transmissibility and antibody evasion.  Researchers from the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) are the first to conduct a molecular-level structural analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant’s spike protein in complex with the ACE2 human cell receptor. The study, led by Dhiraj Mannar, […]

1 million more blood cells destroyed every second during space travel

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Astronauts (and future space tourists!) could be screened for health conditions affected by anemia, after a study reveals ‘space anemia’ prevails even once passengers are safely back on Earth.  “Space anemia has consistently been reported when astronauts returned to Earth since the first space mission, but we didn’t know why,” says Guy Trudel, the first author of this study (University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital Research […]

Epstein-Barr virus associated with causing multiple sclerosis

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Multiple sclerosis risk was found to increase 32-fold after Epstein-Barr virus infection.  The longitudinal analysis of data from over 10 million young adults, by Alberto Ascherio and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (MA, USA) researchers, has uncovered evidence that supports the long-held hypothesis that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection causes multiple sclerosis (MS). The results identify a new avenue of potential treatment for […]

Respect walks – they’re great for creativity!

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Not just a pack of pathetic Peripatetics, those ancient Greeks were onto something when it came to creativity – and a researcher at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (Bavaria, Germany) has the data to prove it.  Get up. Walk. Stop. Close this while you’re doing so and open it when you’re stationary again.*  When you were on the move, did you start thinking about ideas you’ve been bouncing around, a project […]

New Year New (Volu)Me – your latest issue of BioTechniques

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Welcome to the 72nd Volume of BioTechniques! In this issue you can expect a novel method for validating antibodies in a Western blot, a modification to an RNA-seq library preparation protocol, a method to cultivate E. coli on a membrane and much more!  Foreword Welcome to the 72nd Volume of BioTechniques  Technology News The forensic genomics toolbox is expanding  Expert Opinion From bench to bedside: […]

How is machine learning advancing cancer research?

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Machine learning helps identify novel proteins involved in DNA repair, opening new avenues for cancer research.  Every day, each of the trillions of cells in the human body receives over 10,000 DNA lesions, which if unrepaired can lead to mutations and diseases, such as cancer. Luckily, we have complex machinery that detects and repairs DNA lesions; however, there is a […]

Nanocarriers could enhance longevity of type 1 diabetes treatment

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Researchers have developed a nanocarrier to improve the effectiveness of pancreatic islet transplantation, which is a potential cure for type 1 diabetes.  In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks pancreatic islets, which are comprised of cells that control insulin production. As sugar levels in the blood increase, beta cells within […]

Common-cold-induced T cells protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi T cells from common colds caused by coronaviruses can further protect against COVID-19, as researchers demonstrate that higher levels of these T cells mean SARS-CoV-2 infection is less likely.  A study by researchers from Imperial College London (UK), led by Rhia Kundu, set out to investigate the effect of T cells from common […]

Infographic: Sanger sequencing vs NGS

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BioTechniques News Annie Coulson Both Sanger sequencing and next-generation sequencing (NGS) are powerful tools for genomic analysis that are commonplace in labs around the world. Choosing the best technique is important and will vary depending on a variety of factors including sample type, number of targets and level of detection required. Download this infographic to […]

How to CRACK the code behind touch perception

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi The newly developed CRACK platform utilizes brain activity patterns of mice to uncover neural circuits involved in touch perception.  In a recent study, Jerry Chen’s Boston University (MA, USA) team, alongside collaborators from the Allen Institute for Brain Science (WA, USA), has developed a new platform that identifies dedicated circuits of brain cells in mice that perceive touch from environmental stimuli. This highlights areas of the brain that can be specifically targeted in future treatments for neurological disorders that alter perception, including autism and stroke.  “When […]

Benefit of breastmilk: COVID-19 antibodies pass from vaccinated mothers to infants

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Study detects neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in stool samples of infants breastfed by vaccinated mothers with the potential to provide passive immunity against the virus.  Researchers from the University of Massachusetts (MA, USA) assessed the immune composition in breastmilk from mothers who had received an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine and the potential transfer of protective antibodies to […]

Not-so hot-headed peckers

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi To prepare for a fight, a pheasant’s head cools down due to a stress response, which is of the same level no matter where the pheasant sits in the pecking order. A team of researchers set out to learn how pheasants’ body temperature changes during aggressive encounters that establish a pecking order – a […]

Multiple genes implicated in vitamin B12 conditions

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi A symbiosis of basic science discoveries in mouse models and clinical observations in human patients has unraveled the mystery in rare vitamin B12 conditions. One gene (MMACHC) has been linked to three genetic vitamin B12 conditions; however, two of these conditions are much rarer and present as clinically distinct from the third condition, cblC, the most common inherited vitamin B12 disorder. Scientists believed there must be more genes affected than previously […]

Jogging your memory: it’s more literal than you’d think

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Elderly people who exercised more often exhibited signs for healthier nerve transmission, which may protect the brain from cognitive decline.   A recent research effort led by Kaitlin Casaletto (University of California; CA, USA) at the head of an international collaboration of North American and European Universities has discovered that higher amounts of physical activity in elderly people is associated with increased presynaptic protein levels in brain tissue. The same correlation was observed in people whose brains exhibited indicators of neurodegenerative disease, suggesting that physical activity may help to suppress age-related cognitive decline.   The […]

New supermolecule could revolutionize artificial protein synthesis

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Researchers have created the first supermolecule consisting of a DNA helix and peptide, made possible by changing the chirality of the peptide.  DNA and peptides are important biomolecules; however, these are infrequently found linked together in a single structure. It is thought this is due to their opposing chirality, or handedness. DNA is right-handed, whereas peptides are left-handed, so combining these biomolecules is rarely seen […]

The toothpaste ingredient that could cause colitis

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi The mechanism that links a common ingredient in toothpaste to inflammatory bowel disease has been revealed, raising questions about the wisdom of its use in several health products.   Clean teeth are an expected aspect of modern life, one that most of us would expend a great deal of effort and expense to maintain. But could some elements of our […]

It’s not just carrots that help us see in the dark

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Researchers have characterized the three-dimensional structure of the cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) ion channels that helps us see in dim light, hoping this will lead the way to new medical treatments.   “It’s thanks to the rod cells in our eye that we can observe the stars in the night sky,” says Jacopo Marino (Paul Scherrer Institut; Villigen, […]

Expansion of Ardena development and manufacturing site to aid in COVID-19 vaccine development by Novavax

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Pharmaceutical CDMO Ardena (Gent, Belgium) announce the expansion of its capacity for purification and fractionation at its site in Södertälje (Sweden) to aid Novavax (MD, USA) in the long-term production of their COVID-19 vaccine.  Following conditional marketing authorization granted by the European Commission, Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, termed Nuvaxovid, will be the […]

Ancient DNA extracted from dirt in microscopic fossil-like bone particles

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BioTechniques News Aisha Al-Janabi Researchers have developed a technique using polyester resin to extract ancient DNA from archaeological sediments, finding especially concentrated amounts of DNA in microscopic bone or feces particles. Sediments surrounding materials of archaeological interest can contain ancient biomolecules, including DNA, providing an important source of information for archaeologists, especially where skeletal remains are not found. However, how DNA is preserved and the extent of its translocation in the sediments remains unknown.  A […]

COVID-19 autoantibodies: could sex influence susceptibility to long COVID-19?

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BioTechniques News Annie Coulson Researchers report that COVID-19 can induce self-attacking autoantibodies persisting up to 6 months post-infection and demonstrate that males have more complex autoantibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 than females.   A group of investigators from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre (CSMC; CA, USA), led by Yunxian Liu (CSMC), examined the antibody responses of people previously infected with SARS-Cov-2 and found that in some cases autoantibodies, which have the potential to attack the body over time rather than providing protection, were produced up to 6 months after full […]