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E. coli: can subtractive reverse vaccinology help design a vaccine?

Escherichia coli is no stranger to the human body. In around 20% of us, E. coli is the predominant species in our gastrointestinal tract, where it lives as a commensal. But when E. coli gets out of hand it can cause anything from gastroenteritis to sepsis to urinary tract infections. It's those ... Read More

Eternal Yogurt: The Starter That Lives Forever

If you make your own yogurt, there's a chance your yogurt could outlive you.
That's because some bacteria that grow and feed on the sugar in milk – the process that ferments milk into yogurt — can procreate indefinitely in new generations of yogurt.

But not all yogurts have these immortal po... Read More

Policy On High-Risk Biological Research Tightened

The Obama administration has announced a new policy to handle the risks posed by legitimate biological research that could, in the wrong hands, threaten the public.

The move comes in response to a huge debate over recent experiments on bird flu virus that got funding from the National Institu... Read More

Cyanobacterium demonstrates promise for biotechnology feedstock production

Harvard Medical School researchers have engineered a photosynthetic cyanobacterium to boost sugar production, as a first step towards potential commercial production of biofuels and other biotechnologically and industrially useful carbon compounds. As feedstock producers, cyanobacteria have adva... Read More

Air pollution and tuberculosis may be connected

In a new study, scientists have determined a possible link between exposure to a common component of urban air pollution and a change in the function of important immune cells that protect against the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

In their finding, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Steph... Read More

Small Comfort: Nanomedicine Able to Penetrate Bodily Defenses

Researchers use stealthy nanoscale particles to infiltrate vaginal mucus and keep herpes at bay in mice.

Tears and a runny nose can be unpleasant on a windy day, but these mucosal secretions play a vital role in protecting the body from viruses and other malicious microbes. Unfortunately, muc... Read More

A mad cow in America

A dairy cow in California is the fourth known American case of mad cow disease, which is caused by prions, infectious agents composed only of protein (the story hit the press the day after my lecture on this type of illness). Unlike viruses, prions have no nucleic acid and no protective coat. Bu... Read More

Titan's tides reveal hidden ocean that could host life

Alien hunters take note: a global water ocean potentially bigger than all those on Earth combined, is sloshing beneath Titan's icy crust.

Combined with the cocktail of organic chemicals already known to exist on Titan, abundant water could make the moon prime real estate for life – though mor... Read More

Fermented Fashion via @wabibitotweets @phylogenomics

The Micro'be' project by contemporary textile artist and lecturer Donna Franklin, and scientist Gary Cass, explores fashion and technology's newest frontier: garments made from the bacterial fermentation of wine and beer.

The project's eureka moment came about through a vat of Australian red... Read More

Copy of the genetic makeup travels in a protein suitcase

Scientists from the Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at the University of Bonn have succeeded for the first time in the real time filming of the transport of an important information carrier in biological cells that is practically unmodified. This paper has now been published in ... Read More

Intestinal artillery launches anti-bacterial attack

The epithelial cells that line the intestines fire bacteria-fighting “bullets” into the gut, Vanderbilt University researchers have discovered.

The findings, featured on the cover of the April 10 issue of Current Biology, represent a new mechanism for defending the body against gut microbes.
... Read More

Fungus behind America's bat die-off traced back to Europe

The mysterious deaths of millions of bats in the United States and Canada over the past several years were caused by a fungus that hitchhiked from Europe, scientists reported Monday.

Experts had suspected that an invasive species was to blame for the die-off from "white nose syndrome." Now th... Read More

Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden

For a century, doctors have waged war against bacteria, using antibiotics as their weapons. But that relationship is changing as scientists become more familiar with the 100 trillion microbes that call us home — collectively known as the microbiome.

“I would like to lose the language of warfa... Read More

Asking old human tissue to answer new scientific questions

Pirates used to say that “dead men tell no tales.” Of course, the buccaneers had never heard of the polymerase chain reaction. Dead men turn out to be loaded with information if you can get your hands on them — or better yet, on small preserved pieces.

The genomics revolution, two decades old... Read More

Meningitis Vaccine Being Developed From Common Cold Virus

A leading cause for meningitis and septicemia in the UK is meningococcus B (MenB) bacterium infection. Healthy children can become severely ill within just a few hours if they contract meningitis or septicemia, as both illnesses develop randomly and with alarming speed. It often occurs in babies... Read More

How medicine created a bacteria problem

On a warm afternoon in summer we were sitting in the lecture theatre, learning about germs. A microbiologist was showing us slides of enormously magnified bacteria (“God, this is like bug Imax!” said the girl behind me). The lecturer had a cold; he was coughing dramatically. After a prolonged bo... Read More

Some Like It Very Hot

Russian scientists have now poured 60 tonnes of freon and kerosene down the four-kilometre bore hole that plunges through the ice above Lake Vostok in Antarctica. This will stop the hole freezing up during the long Antarctic winter. When summer comes, the Russian team will return to drill the la... Read More

Aaron J. Shatkin, 77

Aaron J. Shatkin was well known for his work on reoviruses beginning in the 1960s in his laboratory at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in Nutley, NJ and then at Rutgers University. He was among the first to appreciate that virus particles contained many different enzymes, such as RNA po... Read More

The Extra Pounds You Can't Afford to Lose: An Interview With Microbiologist Margaret McFall-Ngai

Recent revelations about our microscopic partners and tenants are numerically startling, if not downright existential. Try these for starters: Most of the cells within your body are not human cells, and you are literally teeming with pounds of busy microbes, working to earn their keep while you ... Read More

Slow-Motion Microbes Still Living off Dino-era "Lunch Box"

Buried under the seafloor for 86 million years, a bacterial community lives so slowly it's still surviving on a "lunch box" from dinosaur days, a new study says. (See marine-microbe pictures.)

It's been known since the 1990s that microbes can live trapped in ocean sediments for millions of ye... Read More
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