Evolution of antibiotic resistance mapped

Posted on February 3rd 2011 in News with Comments Off on Evolution of antibiotic resistance mapped

streptococcus pneumoniae

The genomes of hundreds of bacterial strains that cause pneumonia have been sequenced and may lead to new antibiotics and vaccines. 240 lineages of multidrug resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae were collected from around the world and their genomes sequenced in order to understand how the bacteria came to be so virulent. The research, published in the journal Science this week, compared the genetic sequences with the geographic locations of each specimen to produce a map of the major evolutionary events that have led to the diversity we see today. The team of scientists also pinpointed Europe as the probable birthplace of…

Read more

Research uncovers genetic clues to a multitude of brain disorders

Posted on January 31st 2011 in News with Comments Off on Research uncovers genetic clues to a multitude of brain disorders

New research has revealed the genetic origins of 133 brain disorders, paving the way for new ways of diagnosis and treatment for some of the most common debilitating diseases. The findings come as part of a pioneering study into the genetic and chemical makeup of synapses, the parts of neurons that connect neighbouring cells together. The scientists identified 1,461 proteins that make up the post-synaptic density (PSD) – an area that regulates the flow of information recieved from other nerve cells. Mutations in 199 of these proteins were found to be responsible for a variety of neurological and psychiatric diseases…

Read more


Posted on January 28th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Copycats

Apart from a few eccentric Germans, being eaten is probably the last thing any of us would ever like to have happen to us. The same is true throughout the rest of the animal kingdom, of course, with millions of adaptations evolving to help prevent such an occurrence happening. Many of these adaptations are pretty obvious, such as the brutal bony club-like tail of the dinosaur Ankylosaurus, which could fend off attacks from hungry T-Rex almost as well as an old woman swatting away a mugger with her handbag. Another effective way of stopping people getting too close is to…

Read more

Butterflies in the stomach

Posted on January 21st 2011 in News with Comments Off on Butterflies in the stomach

The thought of climate change may leave you with a sinking feeling in your stomach, what with rising sea levels and increasing extinction rates. Research published recently in PLoS has suggested a novel way of helping the planet, although it is unlikely to help the situation in your stomach. Eating insects can, apparently, reduce our individual carbon footprint, by removing our dependency on carbon-intensive sources of protein (like a nice juicy steak or a crispy bacon sarnie). The livestock sector is one of the most prolific producers of greenhouse gases, amounting up to around 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions….

Read more

Anti-arthritis drugs could prevent cognitive decline

Posted on January 20th 2011 in News with Comments Off on Anti-arthritis drugs could prevent cognitive decline

Drugs used to treat arthritis may help prevent cognitive problems that can occur after surgery, according to new research from Imperial College London and the University of California. For years, doctors have struggled to explain why some patients experience confusion, learning disorders and memory loss, a condition known as post-operative cognitive decline. Research from Imperial College has found evidence that the disorder is caused by cytokines, molecules secreted by the immune system that transmit information between cells. Surgery causes a cascade of immune responses, resulting in the increased production of cytokines. Drugs that target the activity of cytokines are widely…

Read more