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How the zebra got its stripes, with Alan Turing

How the zebra got its stripes, with Alan Turing | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Where do a zebra’s stripes, a leopard’s spots and our fingers come from? The key was found years ago – by the man who cracked the Enigma code, writes Kat Arney.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Alan Turing’s published  his ‘chemical morphogenesis’ research  paper in 1952, 2 years before his tragic and untimely death. The paper opened the discussion on how computation and biology may be at fundamentally linked, a thread which continues to be ripe with exploration today. Great article from Mosaic Science explaining the ideas in turings paper and the 60 years of subsequent research.


 


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First ever biological amplifier created by Imperial scientists

First ever biological amplifier created by Imperial scientists | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

cientists have made an amplifier to boost biological signals, using DNA and harmless E. coli bacteria.

 Conventional amplifiers, such as those that are combined with loudspeakers to boost the volume of electric guitars and other instruments, are used to increase the amplitude of electrical signals. Now scientists from Imperial College London have used the same engineering principles to create a biological amplifier, by re-coding the DNA in the harmless gut bacteria Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli). 
Via Socrates Logos
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Socrates Logos's curator insight, August 14, 2014 6:08 PM

by Gail Wilson

"Scientists have made an amplifier to boost biological signals, using DNA and harmless E. coli bacteria.

Conventional amplifiers, such as those that are combined with loudspeakers to boost the volume of electric guitars and other instruments, are used to increase the amplitude of electrical signals.
Now scientists from Imperial College London have used the same engineering principles to create a biological amplifier, by re-coding the DNA in the harmless gut bacteria Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli). 

The team say this ‘bio-amplifier’ might be used in microscopic cellular sensors , which scientists have already developed, that could detect minute traces of chemicals and toxins, to make them more sensitive. Ultimately, this could lead to new types of sensors to detect harmful toxins or diseases in our bodies and in the environment before they do any damage.
In laboratory tests, the team’s bio-amplifier was able to significantly boost the detection limit and sensitivity of a sensor designed to detect the toxin arsenic. The device is also modular, which means that the devices can be easily introduced in different genetic networks, and can potentially be used to increase the sensitivity and accuracy of a broad range of other genetic sensors to detect pathogens and toxins.
The results of the study are published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research. 
Dr Baojun Wang, who is now based at the University of Edinburgh, but carried out the study while in the Division of Cell and Molecular Biology at Imperial, said: “One potential use of this technology would be to deploy microscopic sensors equipped with our bio-amplifier component into a water network. Swarms of the sensors could then detect harmful or dangerous toxins that might be hazardous to our health. The bio-amplifiers in the sensors enable us to detect even minute amounts of dangerous toxins, which would be of huge benefit to water quality controllers.”
Scientists have previously known that cells have their own inbuilt amplifiers to first detect and then boost biological signals, which are crucial for survival and reproduction. They have been attempting to understand how they work in more detail so as to remodel them for other applications. However the challenge for scientists has been engineering a device that can predictably amplify signals without distortion or feedback.
In the study, scientists first re-engineered genes involved in a special cell network called hrp (hypersensitive response and pathogenicity), which have naturally occurring amplifying proteins that function just like an electronic amplifier. They then cloned these amplifying components and inserted them into the harmless gut bacteria E. coli, fitting it with a synthetic arsenic input sensor and a fluorescent green protein gene as the output.  ..."


http://bit.ly/Yadvkb

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The Surprising Gut Microbes of African Hunter-Gatherers | Science | WIRED

The Surprising Gut Microbes of African Hunter-Gatherers | Science | WIRED | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
In Western Tanzania tribes of wandering foragers called Hadza eat a diet of roots, berries, and game. According to a new study, their guts are home to a microbial community unlike anything that's been seen before in a modern human population -- providing, perhaps, a snapshot of what the human gut microbiome looked like before our ancestors figured out how to farm about 12,000 years ago.
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'Sticky balls' stop cancer spreading

'Sticky balls' stop cancer spreading | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Cancer-killing "sticky balls" can whip tumour cells out of the blood and may prevent cancers spreading, early research suggests.
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An interesting approach to tackling metastases from researchers at Cornell.

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Malaria vaccine shows early promise

Malaria vaccine shows early promise | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A malaria vaccine has shown promising results in early stage clinical trials, according to researchers.
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Researchers found the vaccine, which is being developed in the US, protected 12 out of 15 patients from the disease, when given in high doses. The method is unusual because it involves injecting live but weakened malaria-causing parasites directly into patients to trigger immunity.

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Bacteria 'have lessons for economy'

Bacteria 'have lessons for economy' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Colonies of bacteria balance growth against risk, just like financial investors, ecologists have found.
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Almost half a century ago Richard Levins first suggested that trade-offs in organisms' investment decisions lead to them exploiting different niches, and this concept may apply both in biological ecology and in financial markets, but it has not previously been demonstrated as clearly by experimental observations. Using lab-based synthetic biology, experiments in bacterial evolution, and mathematical modelling a new study test Levins hypothesis and  finds links between behavioural patterns of micro-organisms and markets.  A research group from the UK and Australia used strains of the bacterium E. coli that were constrained in the amount of resource that they had for growth, but that were also subjected to varying degrees of biological stress. The work is described in a paper in the journal Ecology Letters and covered by the BBC Science team.

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Antibiotic resistance: The last resort

Antibiotic resistance: The last resort | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Health officials are watching in horror as bacteria become resistant to powerful carbapenem antibiotics — one of the last drugs on the shelf.
ComplexInsight's insight:

As antibiotic resistance continues to evolve and spread - it continues to not get the attention and funding it needs. Research work is urgently needed in new treatments but also in how bacteria, evolve, transport and move in and around hospitals, how they communicate, and how to optimize standard infection-control practices.  Good article from Nature. scary reality.

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Dolphins 'call each other by name'

Dolphins 'call each other by name' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Dolphins call each other by name using unique signature whistles, a study suggests.
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A team from the University of St Andrews in Scotland found that when dolphins hear their own call played back to them, they respond in a similar way to humans responding to their name.The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1304459110

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Jed Fisher's comment, August 1, 2013 5:51 PM
amazing
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Gene therapy trial 'cures children'

Gene therapy trial 'cures children' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A disease which robs children of the ability to walk and talk has been cured by pioneering gene therapy to correct errors in their DNA, say doctors.
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After the initial hype around gene therapy, fast solutions failed to meet expectations.  Following a death in one trial and other patients developed leukaemia  studies showed that  introducing new and modified genes could activate cancer genes. Since then safety concerns have been high. The first gene therapy trials in europe were not approved until 2012.  The BBC article describes a new technique developed at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy  for children born with metachromatic leukodystrophy.  Babies born with metachromatic leukodystrophy appear healthy, but their development starts to reverse between the ages of one and two as part of their brain is destroyed. Three children  with the disease underwent the treatment and have so far showed normal development with  no side effects. While the patients will continue to be followed, the treatment shows that some of the potential promises of gene therapy may come true. 

 

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Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

UCLA researchers now have the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. In an early proof-of-concept study of healthy women, they found that women who regularly consumed beneficial bacteria known as probiotics through yogurt showed altered brain function, both while in a resting state and in response to an emotion-recognition task.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Gut instinct and trust your gut are expressions we use often - researchers at UCLA have now shown there is more to it that simply vernacular expression. Understanding the role of bacteria and human health ecology is becoming far more important to human health than our initial approach of bombing them with anti-biotics first suggested. The new study from UCLA has implications for use of anti-biotics with neonatal care, diet and development and potentially areas such as depression. Much more research following these initial findings will be needed but we are only just starting to discover just how complex we actually are.

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I Contain Multitudes | Quanta Magazine

I Contain Multitudes |  Quanta Magazine | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Our bodies are a genetic patchwork, possessing variation from cell to cell. Is that a good thing?
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With new methods of single cell DNA sequencing becoming available - biologists are beginning to look a the degrees of variations that exist across cells and the extent of cell to cell diversity and what this implies for biological adaptation.

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Transcriptic Aims to Make the Biology Lab Programmable - Bio-IT World

Transcriptic Aims to Make the Biology Lab Programmable - Bio-IT World | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Bio-IT World
Transcriptic Aims to Make the Biology Lab Programmable
Bio-IT World
At a time when monkeys are exerting telepathic control over mechanical limbs, most biologists still don't have access to robotics for even the simplest procedures.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Transcriptic is an awesomely promising start up - that aims to provide automated execution of different lab protocols.  Intersting article at Bio-IT World. If you are interested in the future of weblab work and how it connects to synthetic biology and bio discovery - well worth reading.

 

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Antibody machinery 'leukaemia cause'

Antibody machinery 'leukaemia cause' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

The tools used to fortify the body against infection are also one of the causes of the most common form of childhood leukaemia, say researchers. The machinery used to produce millions of antibodies in the immune system can misfire, making cells more likely to become cancerous.

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Science Weekly podcast: Daniel M Davis on the immune system's wonders

Science Weekly podcast: Daniel M Davis on the immune system's wonders | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
This week on Science Weekly with Alok Jha we discover the immense complexity of the human immune system when we meet Prof Daniel M Davis to discuss his new book The Compatibility Gene.
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complexity of the human immune system is simply staggering - good introduction to the scale in this weeks guardian science podcast.

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Human Deaths and Third-Generation Cephalosporin use in Poultry, Europe - Vol. 19 No. 8 - August 2013 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

Human Deaths and Third-Generation Cephalosporin use in Poultry, Europe - Vol. 19 No. 8 - August 2013 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Globally, antimicrobial drug resistance is rapidly rising, with resultant increased illness and death. In Europe, increasing proportions of bloodstream infections caused by E. coli are resistant to third-generation cephalosporins...

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Antibiotic use in agriculture tends to be a tension filled debate.  Farmers  want healthy stock and the use of antibiotics as with people has had a major impact. However use of antiobiotics in farming helps accelerate bacterial evolution and antibiotic resistance. The debate around antibiotic overuse on farms or over perscription in human medicine and the relation to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, how antibiotic resistant strains migrate from farms to elswhere is ongoing. The human and financial impact and cost of antiobiotic overuse  in agriculture has until now been a grey area of discussion.  A multi-national team of researchers recently published their findings to these questions in the open journal Emerging Infectious disease published by CDC. They found  number of avoidable deaths and the costs of health care potentially caused by third-generation cephalosporin use in food animals is a staggering 1,518 deaths and 67,236 days in the hospital, every year, which would not otherwise have occurred. Considering those factors, they recommend the ongoing use of these antimicrobial drugs in mass therapy and prophylaxis should be urgently examined and stopped, particularly in poultry.  The article and technical appendix are worth reading.

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'Fossil' protein clue to early life

'Fossil' protein clue to early life | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
New reconstructions of the genetic code of an ancient protein provides clues to the origins of life on Earth.
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The resurrected protein is thought to have existed almost four billion years ago in single-celled organisms linked to the earliest ancestor of all life. The protein survives in the extreme environments of high acidity and temperature expected on early Earth and, intriguingly, also Mars.

Spanish and US scientists reported their study in the journal Structure. 

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These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack - Wired Science

These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack - Wired Science | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

You wouldn’t know it, but there is an elaborate stealth communication network in the Earth beneath your feet. This smart web acts like a superorganism, fortifying defensive capabilities and coordinating deadly attacks on unsuspecting targets. But it’s not run by the NSA, the CIA, or the military. This web is made of bacteria

ComplexInsight's insight:

Good artile explainging recent findings in bacterial communication research. Understanding how bacteria communicate and organise will be key to next generation treatments rather than relying only on discovered antibiotics.

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Researchers glimpse microbial 'dark matter'

Researchers glimpse microbial 'dark matter' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Led by Tanja Woyke, a microbiologist at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, researchers used single-cell sequencing to read the genomes of 201 bacterial and archaeal cells taken from nine diverse environments, such as hydrothermal vents and an underground gold mine. None of the organisms had ever been sequenced or cultivated in a laboratory. The results are published today in Nature1.

ComplexInsight's insight:

The ability to use single cell sequencing gives a whole new insight into microbial and bacterial worlds. The research highlights not only how we will be reassessing our definitions and classifications of bacterial and archaeal kingdoms but also the range of adaptations that wait to be discovered.

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Biology Image Library

Biology Image Library | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
RT @BiologyImageLib: Great news! We have passed the 5 000 image mark in Molecular & Celluar Biology! http://t.co/EiFFeloaWH
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Great resource if you need imagery to explain or show molelcular or cellular biological processes and related content.

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Bees Solve Complex Problems Faster Than Current Supercomputers

Bees Solve Complex Problems Faster Than Current Supercomputers | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
In a landmark 2010 study, researchers found that bumblebees were able to figure out the most efficient routes among several computer-controlled "flowers," quickly solving a complex problem that even stumps supercomputers. We already know bees are pretty good at facial recognition, and researchers have shown they can also be effective air-quality monitors.

 

Bumblebees can solve the classic "traveling salesman" problem, which keeps supercomputers busy for days. They learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they find the flowers in a different order, according to the British study.

 

The traveling salesman problem is a problem in computer science; it involves finding the shortest possible route between cities, visiting each city only once. Bees are the first animals to figure this out, according to Queen Mary University of London researchers.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, LilyGiraud
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