Could Salmonella Bacteria Kill Tumors?

Scientists from Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research are researching how salmonella kill tumours. Salmonella are regarded as bad guys. Hardly a summer passes without severe salmonella infections via raw egg dishes or chicken that find their way into the media. But salmonella not only harm us – in future they may even help to defend us against cancer. The bacteria migrate into solid tumours and make it easier to destroy them. Furthermore, in laboratory mice they independently find their way into metastases, where they can also aid clearance.

Science Daily: Could Salmonella Bacteria Kill Tumors?

Researchers rapidly turn E. coli into biotech factories

High-throughput sequencing has turned biologists into voracious genome readers, enabling them to scan millions of DNA letters, or bases, per hour. When revising a genome, however, they struggle, suffering from serious writer’s block, exacerbated by outdated cell programming technology. Labs get bogged down with particular DNA sentences, tinkering at times with subsections of a single gene ad nauseam before moving along to the next one.

A team has finally overcome this obstacle by developing a new cell programming method called Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE). Published online in Nature on July 26, the platform promises to give biotechnology, in particular synthetic biology, a powerful boost.

Led by a pair of researchers in the lab of Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics George Church, the team rapidly refined the design of a bacterium by editing multiple genes in parallel instead of targeting one gene at a time. They transformed self-serving E. coli cells into efficient factories that produce a desired compound, accomplishing in just three days a feat that would take most biotech companies months or years.

PhysOrg: Researchers rapidly turn bacteria into biotech factories

(Thanks Nova)

‘Bacterial Computers’: Genetically Engineered Bacteria Have Potential To Solve Complicated Mathematical Problems

US researchers have created ‘bacterial computers’ with the potential to solve complicated mathematics problems. The findings of the research demonstrate that computing in living cells is feasible, opening the door to a number of applications. The second-generation bacterial computers illustrate the feasibility of extending the approach to other computationally challenging math problems. […]

The Hamiltonian Path Problem asks whether there is a route in a network from a beginning node to an ending node, visiting each node exactly once. The student and faculty researchers modified the genetic circuitry of the bacteria to enable them to find a Hamiltonian path in a three-node graph. Bacteria that successfully solved the problem reported their success by fluorescing both red and green, resulting in yellow colonies.

Science Daily: ‘Bacterial Computers’: Genetically Engineered Bacteria Have Potential To Solve Complicated Mathematical Problems

(via OVO)

Discovery of New Microorganisms in the Stratosphere

Three new species of bacteria, which are not found on Earth and which are highly resistant to ultra-violet radiation, have been discovered in the upper stratosphere by Indian scientists. One of the new species has been named as Janibacter hoylei, after the Distinguished Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, the second as Bacillus isronensis recognising the contribution of ISRO in the balloon experiments which led to its discovery and the third as Bacillus aryabhata after India’s celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata and also the first satellite of ISRO.

Full Story: Indian Space Research Organization

(Thanks Leto)

(Telluro-magnetic Conspiracy Towards the Sun?)

The BacterioSphere

The savage simplicity of the bacteria is not a sign of its stupidity but a token of its long term commitment to survival. When looking at the tree of life in terms of creative ability it is clear that it is not the bacteria that are primitive; it are the branches ‘above’ them that are caged in an ancient, conservative, over-elaborate and fragile textual heritage. The lichen, that many-coloured plant-like coat of nothingness, that centrifugal furry Mandelbrot cloak spreading-out in search for a minimal splash of sunlight across otherwise lifeless mineral surfaces underscores the point that the vortex may be the ideal but that the bacterial condition is above strict obedience to even its own principles.

Full Story: Social Fiction

(Thanks Algomantra)

Towards an understanding of the origins of life

the first cell

Two fascinating projects:

Scientists Close to Reconstructing First Living Cell:

cells were very different when life began 3.5 billion to four billion years ago. Rather than small metropolises, they were more like a purse that carried instructions-consisting of just a membrane with genetic information inside. They lacked the structures and proteins that now make them tick. The question is: How then were they able to take in the nutrients necessary to survive and reproduce?

Harvard Medical School researchers report in Nature that they have built a model of what they believe the very first living cell may have looked like, which contains a strip of genetic material surrounded by a fatty membrane. The membranes of modern cells consist of a double layer of fatty acids known as phospholipids. But in designing a membrane for their cell, scientists worked with much simpler fatty acids that they believe existed on a primeval Earth, when the first cell likely formed. The key, says study co-author Jack Szostak, a Harvard geneticist, was to develop one porous enough to let in needed nutrients (such as nucleotides, the units that make up genetic material, or DNA) but strong enough to protect the genetic material inside and keep it from slipping out after replicating.

(via Kurzeil)

A New Step In Evolution:

Lenski and his colleagues have witnessed a significant change. And their new paper makes clear that just because the odds of such a significant change are incredibly rare doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. Natural selection, in fact, ensures that sometimes it does. And, finally, it demonstrates that after twenty years, Lenski’s invisible dynasty still has some surprises in store.

(via OVO)

Thinking ahead: Bacteria anticipate coming changes in their environment

A new study by Princeton University researchers shows for the first time that bacteria don’t just react to changes in their surroundings — they anticipate and prepare for them. The findings, reported in the June 6 issue of Science, challenge the prevailing notion that only organisms with complex nervous systems have this ability.
“What we have found is the first evidence that bacteria can use sensed cues from their environment to infer future events,” said Saeed Tavazoie, an associate professor of molecular biology, who conducted the study along with graduate student Ilias Tagkopoulos and postdoctoral researcher Yir-Chung Liu.

Full Story: Physorg

(via Kurzweil)

Who needs sex when you can steal DNA?

Tiny freshwater organisms that have amazed scientists because of their sex-free lifestyle may have survived so well because they steal genes from other creatures, scientists reported on Thursday.

They found genes from bacteria, fungi and even plants incorporated into the DNA of bdelloid rotifers — minuscule animals that appear to have given up sex 40 million years ago.

Full Story: Reuters

(via Brainsturbator)

Networks, Bacteria, and the Illusion of Control

Brainsturbator stitches together a number of articles, some of which you may have seen here, to make the case that we’re less in control of our minds and bodies than we think.

Full Story: Brainsturbator.

Bacteria vs. Humans: Score One for Us

Researchers in San Diego announce a new molecule that stops bacteria from mutating to become resistant to antibiotics.

Microbes have ruled the earth for more than a billion years; comparatively, we humans are just upstarts. Yet since the invention of penicillin in 1940, we have inflicted a crippling blow on many types of bacteria that make us ill or kill us.

But the bugs have struck back by activating DNA that is prone to errors when it replicates. This increases the chance that mutations will develop to fend off the mortal threat posed by antibiotics. In 2005, biochemist Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Research Institute, near San Diego, announced that his lab had discovered a gene called LexA that switches on the error-prone DNA, enabling the microbe to mutate rapidly.


Now Romesberg has announced the discovery of a molecule that inhibits LexA’sability to cause mutations; it was found after the lab screened more than 100,000 possible compounds. The molecule also slips easily into a bacterial cell, which is critical to creating an effective tool to zap the bugs.

Full Story: Technology Review.

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