One of two papers on avian influenza H5N1 virus that caused such a furor in the past six months was published today in the journal Nature. I have read it, and I can assure you that the results do not enable the construction of a deadly biological weapon. Instead, they illuminate important requir... Read More
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
Computer-designed proteins are under construction to fight the flu. Researchers are demonstrating that proteins found in nature, but that do not normally bind the flu, can be engineered to act as broad-spectrum antiviral agents against a variety of flu virus strains, including H1N1 pandemic infl... Read More
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
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
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
Changes in an overactive immune system can contribute to autism-like behaviors in mice, new research shows.
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) pioneered the study of the link between irregularities in the immune system and neurodevelopmental disorders such as auti... Read More
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
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
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
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 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