Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stem Cells and Everything you need to know

Dear Friends and Readers.

I've received several emails asking the blog to cover Stem Cells and it's uses and purposes. Over next few weeks, we'll be dedicating this section to All things Stem Cells related.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support on this blog and post taking it over in November 2011, I promise to take it to new levels and continue it's purpose of sharing and collaborating information regarding Synthetic Biology and Gene Synthesis.

Wishing everyone a Very very happy NEW YEAR!!

Thank You,

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hillary Clinton warns of gene assembly's ability to create bioweapons

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently warned that gene assembly technology research could potentially be used by terrorists to create biological weapons. If this is 'a' possible future or not, only time will tell, however it is indeed a scary thought.

The threat from bioweapons has drawn little attention in recent years, as governments focused more on the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation to countries such as Iran and North Korea.
But experts have warned that the increasing ease with which bioweapons can be created might be used by terror groups to develop and spread new diseases that could mimic the effects of the fictional global epidemic portrayed in the Hollywood thriller "Contagion."

Many have been calling on the elimination of current viruses and diseases that, if in the wrong hands, could be a powerful weapon. The U.S. announced plans to destroy their smallpox stockpile in May 2011, despite protests from the public. The government feared that terrorists could use the virus to unleash a devastating attack. The disease, which killed one-third of those who were infected, was last seen in 1978.
As late as 2010, a congressional mandated panel reported that the U.S. would not be prepared for a bioweapon attack. The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation said the Obama administration failed in its efforts to prepare for and respond to a biological attack, such as the release of deadly viruses or bacteria. After that report, Obama announced during his State of the Union speech that the country would be making strides to make sure it was prepared for a biological terrorist attack scenario.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been pushing for countries to eliminate their stockpiles since 2006. However, at the WHO's annual meeting, it was decided that nations' could keep their smallpox stockpiles for at least another three more years in order to develop vaccines and anti-virals, according to Reuters.

"The emerging gene synthesis industry is making genetic material more widely available," she said. "This has many benefits for research, but it could also potentially be used to assemble the components of a deadly organism."

This probably reminds people about the Anthrax attacks almost a decade ago. Washington has urged countries to increase transparency in their effort to lower the threat of bioweapons, but U.S. officials have shied away from calling for a formal international verification system, citing the complications that would be involved in monitoring the vast number of labs that would have to be monitored.

Genes Predict Mesothelioma Treatment Response

Mesothelioma is a fast-growing cancer triggered by exposure to asbestos.  It is often treated with multiple modalities, including chemotherapy.  As more is understood about the impact of genetics on medication response, chemotherapy for cancers like mesothelioma is moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to a more tailored approach based on individual cellular characteristics. 

University of Chicago researchers have released the results of genetic studies they hope will shed some light on why some mesothelioma patients respond well to pemetrexed (Alimta) while others do not.

This is a copyrighted article hence cannot publish the entire thing here. But for more information on this you can visit the site at


Stem cell cure for hearing loss in aged

In a first of its kind study, a team of scientists in the UK have tried to "grow" new stem cells in the ear that get damaged with age, a finding they say could help combat hearing loss associated with old-age.

Researchers at Keele University found that in some cases hearing begins to decline when fibrocytes - cells in the inner ear - start to degenerate with age.

Once these cells die and don't function correctly, other parts of the inner ear can become permanently damaged, leading to increased loss of hearing and possible deafness, said the researchers. Dr Dave Furness and his team have begun research which will explore whether replacement fibrocytes and fibrocyte stem cells can be successfully grown and implanted into the ear.

If successful, the research could pave the way towards the prevention of age related hearing loss, Furness said. "We set out to explore why deafness occurs as a result of aging and what we discovered was that fibrocytes, the part of the ear involved in managing fluid composition in the cochlea, do degrade due to old age," Furness said.

Once this happens, he said, it causes hearing sensitivity to decrease. 

breaking news at times of india.