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Archive for the ‘biotech/medical’ category

Nov 26, 2021

New COVID-19 variant: How dangerous is B.1.1.529? | DW News

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Scientists in South Africa are warning of a new strain of COVID-19. The variant, which is yet to be named, appears to have a high number of mutations, and there’s a possibility it could be able to evade our immune response and be even more transmissible.
At first, health officials thought they were seeing a small cluster of outbreaks in South Africa’s most populous province. But after examining specimens, they realized they were dealing with something far more serious — a new variant that could be the hardest yet to contain.
Officials are worried that the new variant, known simply as B.1.1.529, could quickly spread through the country and beyond. Only about 35% of adults in South Africa are fully vaccinated, and the rate of vaccination has slowed. And given the findings so far, even current vaccines may not be enough to stop it.
Several countries, including the UK and Germany have announced a ban on flights from South Africa and five neighboring countries as cases of the new variant have already appeared in Botswana and in Hong Kong. No matter where the variant started, it could quickly become a global problem.

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Nov 26, 2021

NIH launches program to map a rare type of non-dividing cells implicated in human health and disease

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension, neuroscience

The National Institutes of Health has launched a program to study a rare type of cells, called “senescent” cells, that play both positive and negative roles in biological processes. The NIH Common Fund’s Cellular Senescence Network (SenNet) program will leverage recent advances in studying individual cells, or single-cell analysis, to comprehensively identify and characterize the differences in senescent cells across the body, across various states of human health, and across the lifespan. The rarity and diversity of these cells previously made them difficult to identify and study; therefore, a deeper understanding will help researchers develop therapies that encourage beneficial effects of senescent cells while suppressing their tissue-damaging effects.

“The number of senescent cells in a person’s body increases with age, which may reflect both an increase in the generation of these cells and a decreased ability of the aging immune system to regulate or eliminate these cells. This age-related accumulation of senescent cells leads to production of inflammatory molecules and corruption of healthy cells,” said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging, part of NIH. “This can affect a person’s ability to withstand stress or illness, recuperate from injuries, and maintain normal brain function. The aim of NIH’s strengthened focus on this field of science is to one day conquer these and other challenges.”

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Nov 25, 2021

Self-Spreading Animal Vaccines Could Combat Human Pandemics

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

We already have technology that allows wildlife to pass vaccines among themselves, and developing methods may speed up the process. But critics claim that they risk human infections and criminal misuse.

Nov 25, 2021

New research suggests CRISPR can destroy virus that causes COVID-19

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Scientists have discovered a way to stop the COVID-19 virus from replicating in infected human cells, marking major progress towards a definitive treatment for the deadly illness and accentuating the potential of genetic engineering to cure viral diseases.

The study explores the use of CRISPR, a genome editing tool, and builds on research that started at Australia’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in 2019, when Dr. Mohamed Fareh and Prof. Joe Trapani showed that CRISPR could be used to eliminate abnormal RNAs that drive children’s cancers.

At the beginning of the pandemic, and in collaboration with Director Prof. Sharon Lewin and Dr. Wei Zhao from the Doherty Institute, the scientists reprogrammed the same CRISPR tool to suppress replication of the RNA virus SARS-CoV-2 — and importantly, its “variants of concern” — in a test tube model. SARS-CoV-2, which is short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, is the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Nov 25, 2021

Key step in how bacteria acquire drug resistance revealed

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Researchers have imaged a major component in conjugation—the process bacteria use to share DNA with each other.

During conjugation, bacteria can exchange genetic information in the form of special pieces of DNA. These include genes that help them resist attacks from common antimicrobial drugs, making many illnesses caused by these bacteria resistant to treatment.

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Nov 25, 2021

Protean South African virus mutation raises alarms in Israel

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Health official are reportedly calling for steps to be taken to keep a potentially worrying new variant of the coronavirus out of the country.

Scientists in South Africa revealed Thursday that they had detected a new COVID-19 variant with “a very high number of mutations,” blamed for an “exponential” surge in infections there.

The number of daily infections in Africa’s hardest-hit country has increased tenfold since the start of the month.

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Nov 25, 2021

Science, industry team up in Italy to zap virus with laser

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics, particle physics, science

ROME, July 2 (Reuters) — A United Nations-backed scientific research centre has teamed up with an Italian tech firm to explore whether laser light can be used to kill coronavirus particles suspended in the air and help keep indoor spaces safe.

The joint effort between the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) of Trieste, a city in the north of Italy, and the nearby Eltech K-Laser company, was launched last year as COVID-19 was battering the country.

They created a device that forces air through a sterilization chamber which contains a laser beam filter that pulverizes viruses and bacteria.

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Nov 25, 2021

Silicon Valley Wants to ‘Cure’ Aging… What If They Do?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension, robotics/AI

I am a huge fan of reading. So much so that I’m beginning to think it’s having a negative impact on my social life, but we’ll save that for another time… The point is that I read a LOT. And for the past seven years, I’ve been stuck on one genre: Science Fiction. From space operas and apocalyptic disasters, to robot revolts and galaxy-spanning quests — I’m down for it all.

The best sci fi authors can n o t only see how innovation might progress, but how humanity might evolve as a result. For a genre so heavily focused on science and technology, it’s surprisingly human.

So I get really excited when I see a headline like Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s Latest Wild Bet on Living Forever. It makes me feel like I’m living in the future. The rate of scientific advancement over the past 50 years has been increasingly mind boggling and it’s impossible to keep up with all the discoveries. First CRISPR, then private space travel, now immortality? It’s insane. Completely terrifying. And I love it.

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Nov 25, 2021

Estimated 1.56 billion face masks will have entered oceans in 2020

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

COVID-19 facemasks & marine plastic pollution.


Our oceans will be flooded with an estimated 1.56 billion face masks in 2020 says a report released today by Hong-Kong-based marine conservation organization OceansAsia. This will result in an additional 4,680 to 6,240 metric tonnes of marine plastic pollution, says the report, entitled “Masks on the Beach: The Impact of COVID-19 on Marine Plastic Pollution.” These masks will take as long as 450 years to break down, slowly turning into micro plastics while negatively impacting marine wildlife and ecosystems.

The report used a global production estimate of 52 billion masks being manufactured in 2020, a conservative loss rate of 3%, and the average weight of 3 to 4 grams for a single-use polypropylene surgical face mask to arrive at the estimate.

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Nov 25, 2021

New COVID-19 variant discovered in South Africa | DW News

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Scientists in South Africa are warning of a new strain of COVID-19. The variant — which is yet to be named — appears to have a high number of mutations. That is of concern, because there’s a possibility it could be able to evade our immune response and be even more transmissible. South Africa has called for an emergency meeting of the World Health Organization to discuss this new variant.

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