This week in SCIENCE!
Might as well come out and admit it, the new evidence in extraterrestrial life is pretty goddamn awesome. No, they’re not invading. No, these aliens aren’t even multicellular. But, biological remains found inside a 2012 meteorite in Sri Lanka have finally been analyzed showing organic structures that distantly mimic extant and extinct dinoflagellate species. Click here for the alien story.
In other big stories this week, a new cheap test has been developed with 90% accuracy in determining a gastric cancer diagnosis…by your breath! And, food for thought really, major attention is being give to the threat of antibiotic resistance by claiming that super-microbes pose a larger security challenge to the G8 countries than terrorism. The reaction has been to call on pharmaceuticals to develop new drugs and direct more funding towards developing cheaper and more effective antibiotics…wait, isn’t that what got us here in the first place? I dont know, but its a decent article (here).
Another bombshell this week in medicine is the report that bee venom may aid in the killing of the HIV virus in vivo. By using nanoparticles with uneven surfaces, the treatment avoids the host cells by keeping the venom in small invaginations on the nanomolecule and bouncing off cell membranes. These pockets are big enough, however, to trap and bind HIV viruses. And, well, the bee venom does a pretty good job of poking holes in the HIV envelope. And also, if HIV patients didn’t have enough to worry about, HIV infection is now correlated with MI risk.
What else? Oh, well if you think 3D printing is cool, check out this article where a guy had 75% of his skullcap replaced by 3D printed plastic. And, just when you’re positive that a scientific theory called ‘wobble’ is watertight, this happens! If you break it down, remember that most amino acids can be encoded by several variations of codons, for instance, serine can be encoded six different ways. Scientists designed proteins using individual versions of these codons only for a given protein, and gave them to separate strands of E. coli. Well, under normal circumstances, these proteins perform similarly. However, when each strain was put under identical stresses, certain strands simply performed the same as normal, or underproduced, and in some cases, produced at rates nearly 100X the efficiency found under normal conditions. So what’s this mean again? That the presence of given codons in your genome confer certain advantages. Evolution, it seems, has a few more tricks up its sleeve for us.
If you made it this far, congratulations.