Animals

Species Lifespan Predicted by Rate of Telomere Shortening

New research has indicated that a species’ lifespan can be predicted by the rate of telomere shortening but not by the initial telomere length, as previously thought. Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA nucleotides found at the end of chromosomes. They protect the chromosome from degradation during cell division. As species age, the length of […]

CRISPR Technique Ensures Only Female Offspring in Mice

A CRISPR-based technique has been used in mice to ensure they give birth to exclusively female offspring. This has applications for selecting the sex ratio in livestock. Although offspring sex selection through genetic techniques has previously been achieved in fish and insects, this is the first successful attempt in mammals. Mammal offspring sex selection has […]

Genetic Changes that Cause Coral Bleaching Identified

Researchers have identified the genetic changes that cause corals to bleach when ocean temperatures increase. This insight gives researchers the possibility to genetically engineer corals to make them more resistant to bleaching.  At normal temperatures, corals form a symbiotic relationship with microalgae, known as dinoflagellates. The algae provide their photosynthetic products to the coral so […]

HIV Virus Eliminated from Infected Mice Cells

A new CRISPR-based method has managed to eliminate HIV in mice, for the first time potentially curing the lifelong illness of HIV/AIDs. Clinical trials will start next year to identify if the same method could be used to cure humans.   HIV is a virus which attacks the immune cells in the body, leaving it […]

George Church’s Startup Testing Pig Organs in Primates

eGenesis has announced that it is now testing pig organs on primates to see if they safe for human use. If successful, this practice could solve the current shortage of human organs for transplantation. The company has declared that the pig organs are the most highly engineered ever created by surgeons.

Gene Editing Creates Primate Model for Autism

A joint US-China study has engineered macaque monkeys to express a mutation linked to autism and other human neurodevelopmental disorders. The monkey showed certain behavioural traits similar to humans with the same condition.

Stem Cells Edited In Vivo For the First Time

Researchers have genetically modified stem cells inside the bodies of mice for the first time, in a study that could lead eventually to new potential for stem cell therapies. The study also shows potential for studying genetically-edited stem cells within the body, rather than in the lab.

Fungus Genetically Modified to Wipe Out Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes

University of Maryland scientists have genetically modified a fungus to produce a toxin fatal to mosquitoes, in order to reduce the malaria death toll they currently cause. An out-of-lab trial destroyed a mosquito population almost entirely within 45 days, leading some to criticise the work as “too dangerous” for the real world.

Chinese Institute Clones Gene-Edited Monkeys for Testing

Scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience (ION) in China have reportedly used gene-editing technology to disable a certain gene vital to sleep-cycle in macaque monkeys. This prototype could create populations of genetically identical monkeys to allow scientists to better study the mechanisms of complex human disorders.

New tRNA Sequencing Method Uncovers Microbiome Activity

A new high-throughput sequencing technique created by scientists at the University of Chicago will uncover how naturally occurring microbiomes respond to real-world conditions and diets. The technique, outlined in Nature Communications, directly analyses transfer RNA (tRNA) to give a clear picture of microbial communities’ reactions to environment changes including temperature variations and nutrient availability.

No-Incision CRISPR Reduces Genetic Obesity in Mice

A modified version of CRISPR has been used to reverse genetic obesity in two different mouse models without editing any genes. The technique uses the guidance system in CRISPR to target certain genetic sequences and amplifies existing gene activity to ramp up protein production.

Reprogrammed Skin Cells Shrink Mouse Tumours

Personalised tumour-detecting cells from adult skin cells have been used to shrink brain tumours in mice by up to 5%, scientists have revealed. While the strategy has not yet been fully tested in people, it could in the future give doctors the ability to develop a custom treatment for certain cancer types.