Genetics & Molecular Biology

The world population, which stood at 5 billion in 1950, will likely increase to 10.5 billion by 2050, meaning that the planet’s population will have doubled within the lifetimes of many people alive today.  

Beginning in the 1960s, environmental groups and their Doomsday Prophets, including Berkeley's Dr. Paul Ehrlich and current U.S. White House Science 'Czar' Dr. John Holdren, began projecting food riots and mass starvation and advocated for forced sterilization and other schemes to stave off the apocalypse.

The error-free distribution of genetic material during cell division is important for preventing the development of tumor cells. Prof. Erich Nigg’s research group at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has uncovered a new important function of the human enzyme Plk1. It plays a significant role in monitoring chromosome segregation.


Researchers have discovered that chromosomes play an active role in animal cell division. This occurs at a precise stage – cytokinesis – when the cell splits into two new daughter cells.

It was observed by a team of researchers including Gilles Hickson, an assistant professor at the University of Montreal’s Department of Pathology and Cell Biology and researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, his assistant Silvana Jananji, in collaboration with Nelio Rodrigues, a PhD student, and Sergey Lekomtsev, a postdoc, working in the group led by Buzz Baum of the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at University College London.

Using gene therapy, researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School have restored hearing in mice with a genetic form of deafness. Their work, published online July 8 by the journal Science Translational Medicine, could pave the way for gene therapy in people with hearing loss caused by genetic mutations.

"Our gene therapy protocol is not yet ready for clinical trials--we need to tweak it a bit more--but in the not-too-distant future we think it could be developed for therapeutic use in humans," says Jeffrey Holt, PhD, a scientist in the Department of Otolaryngology and F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children's and an associate professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.


Researchers have discovered that a human antibody specific to dengue virus serotype 2, called 2D22, protects mice from a lethal form of the virus -- and they suggest that the site where 2D22 binds to the virus could represent a potential vaccine target.

The mosquito-borne virus, which infects nearly 400 million people around the world each year, has four distinct serotypes, or variations, and there is currently no protective vaccine available.


Mice that have a genetic version of mitochondrial disease can easily be mistaken for much older animals by the time they are nine months old: they have thinning gray hair, osteoporosis, poor hearing, infertility and heart problems.

Despite having this disease at birth, these mice have a “secret weapon” in their youth that staves off signs of aging for a time - a longevity hormone helps these mice, born with thousands of mutations in their energy-generating mitochondria, maintain metabolic homeostasis at a young age. 
A long sought after gene that is a critical gateway step in the synthesis of the morphinan class of alkaloids, which include the painkiller drugs morphine and codeine, has been discovered.

 The gene, called STORR, is only found in poppy species that produce morphinans. The STORR gene evolved when two other genes encoding oxidase and reductase enzymes came together millions of years ago. The resulting gene fusion plays a key role in production of morphine. The researchers hope this will enable the breeding of bespoke poppy varieties, including those that produce the anti-cancer compound noscapine. Discovery of the STORR gene completes the set of genes needed for genetic engineering of morphine production in microbes such as yeast.

A new study in Sweden links male infertility to autoimmune prostatic inflammation.  

Infertility - involuntary childlessness - is common, and in half of all cases attributable to infertility in the man. Although male infertility has many possible causes, it often remains unexplained. 

In the present study, researchers from Karolinska Institutet discovered a reason for reduced fertility in people with autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 1 (APS1), which increases the risk of developing autoimmune disease (caused by the immune system attacking and damaging healthy cells) and which is often used as a model for autoimmune disease in general. 


Nitric oxide (NO) is a highly stable molecule that is also highly reactive and a free radical, meaning a single, unpaired electron is present in its molecule. NO plays the role of a mediator between elements and helps them combine. Radicals are regularly generated in many metabolic pathways. Some of these radicals can exist in a free form and subsequently interact with various tissue components resulting in dysfunction.


Often referred to as the "body clock", circadian rhythm controls what time of day people are most alert, hungry, tired or physically primed due to a complex biological process that is not unique to humans. Circadian rhythms, which oscillate over a roughly 24-hour cycle in adaptation to the Earth's rotation, have been observed in most of the planet's plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria, and are responsible for regulating many aspects of organisms' physiological, behavioral and metabolic functions.