Archive for August, 2011

The kinky MacBook Pro preview…..

I was walking by a labmate’s desk when something on his screen grabbed my attention….

Wait, what??

“What in Earth are you reading?”, I asked. I noticed it was Biomed Central paper, though.

He then hovered over the preview window to display the full title of the paper he was reading…

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James Watson and models

(well, not *that* kind of models anyway…)

James D Watson, who I had the chance to meet in person at the University of Chicago in ’07, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material

I found this awesome pic on the web, taken in 1957, showing Watson playing with models, which he described in his book “The Double Helix1, as instrumental for the proposal of the structure of DNA (along with X-ray pictures, Chargaff’s rules and other pieces of data).  He always thought models could provide important info for tackling the problem of the structure of DNA.

1 Get it. It’s a great book.

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Cancer Research Blog Carnival #48

Go check the 48th Edition of The Cancer Research Blog Carnival, posted yesterday over at Bayblab.

It features Francisco’s “Direct Connection” post discussing his paper on adult stem cells and cancer relapse, along with many other interesting posts on cancer research.

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The MolBio Carnival #13: genetics, microbiology and more!

Welcome to the 13th Edition of The MolBio Carnival, your monthly roundup of interesting posts in molecular biology from the science blogosphere.
I had a great time reviewing the wide variety of posts discussing the molecular basis of life that were submitted and I thank everyone who contributed.

1) Let’s start things off with some cancer-related blogging. Cancer can recur in a patient a long time after removal of the primary tumour, with latency periods that range from years to even decades. The pause can be explained by ‘cancer dormancy’, a condition in which the disease persists, but displays no symptoms. Michael Scott Long at Phased, comments on a recent review in which the authors discuss several aspects of this phenomenon, whose understanding could lead to “new insights into cancer biology and possibly improved treatment”.

2) On the topic of diseases, Catherine Pratt, in her usual attractive style, discusses a recent paper published in Nature, in which the authors unveil a relationship between alcohol, DNA and the hereditary disease Fanconi anemia, a blood disorder that leads to bone marrow failure.

Does that mean you should stop drinking? Read to find out!

3) Effective treatment of bacterial infections requires that we are actually able to detect them  before they become systemic or cause significant tissue damage. Even though several contrast agents have been developed, their specificity and sensitivity are far from optimal. LabRat, at her new home at Scientific American, highlights a new family of contrast agents that seems to tackle these problems, allowing for an accurate and sensitive imaging of bacteria in vivo.

One of the maltodextrin-based imaging probes developed in the paper discussed in LabRat’s post

4) An important issue in antifungal drug discovery is the lack of drug molecular targets that are specific for fungi, considering the extent of conservation at the biochemical and molecular level in all eukaryotes. This is important, because you dont’t want to treat a fungal infection with an agent that kills both the fungus and your own cells! Becky Ward at “It takes 30”, discusses a paper published on Molecular Systems Biology that aimed to “extend the universe of useful antifungal drugs” by searching for drugs, within those that are not usually used as antifungals, to use in combination with commonly used antifungal drugs (in concentrations in which the antifungal isn’t effective on its own), for effective and synergistic antifungal activity.

Drugs that synergize with fluconazole, an antifungal agent. From the reference discussed in Becky’s post.

5) Narcolepsy….

Are you imagining someone falling asleep into a bowl of soup after reading that?

Then James Byme at Disease Prone has a post for you. He gives an overview of this sleep disorder, usually confused with a different related condition called cataplexy, highlighting that this stereotype “isn’t the norm at all”.

6) Next we have two posts from Vasili Hauryliuk. On the first one, he discusses his recent paper in PNAS reporting the development of a “novel single-molecule tracking methodology to characterize the intracellular catalytic cycle of RelA”, a protein that participates on the bacterial adaptation to starvation and stress.

On his second contribution to the Carnival, Vasili gets into protein thermodynamics, adaptation to extreme temperatures and evolution, on his cleverly named post “Darwin meets Gibbs: making a temperature-resistant protein”

7) Actin, the most abundant cytoskeletal filament-forming protein in the cell, plays an important role in cell structure, motility and muscle contraction. The Leading Edge gives an overview of this important protein as Part 1 of a series of posts trying to answer the general question of “how cells move”.

8 ) Ben Good over at B Good Science, discusses a Nature Chemical Biology paper in which the authors engineered a strain of E. coli to produce BDO, an important commodity chemical used to manufacture a series of valuable polymers, including Spandex, the “clothing of choice for superheroes, glam rockers and 80′s disco enthusiasts”.

9) The famous Miller-Urey experiment, in which Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey attempted to reproduce hypothetical conditions thought to have existed on the early Earth, had a huge impact on the study of the origin of life. Paige Brown at “From the Bench” beautifully explains this experiment in detail, as part of her “Super-Hero experiments” series.

The Miller-Urey experiment. From Paige’s post.

10) Finishing up this edition of the Carnival is Jeremy B. Yoder, who comments on the different strategies, at the molecular level, mammals use to cope with low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitudes. More red blood cells? A cooler version of hemoglobin? Take your guess and then go check out the post!

That’s it for this month’s edition of The MolBio Carnival. You can check future hosts and past editions at the Carnival’s index page or at it’s blog. Be sure to subscribe to its RSS feed to receive notifications and summaries when new editions of the Carnival are posted. Also, be sure to submit your best molbio blog posts to the next edition of The MolBio Carnival using our online submission form. The MolBio Carnival is published on the first Monday of every month.

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