Genetics & Molecular Biology

Genetically modified crops have long drawn fire from environmentalists, who worry that there could be contamination of organic food or creation of FrankenWeeds. Properly used, there is no chance of that, the only thing that can happen is trace material.

Still, they have worries and science may have an answer: modern plant genes damaging the claims of the $105 billion organic food industry might be mitigated by...plant genes.

Researchers have discovered a molecular ‘switch’ that controls replication and transcription of mitochondria DNA, a key finding that could influence the development of targeted therapies for cancer, developmental processes related to fertility and aging. 

Mitochondria are organelles located outside the nucleus of nearly every cell in humans. While most of the cell’s DNA is inside the nucleus, mitochondria maintain their own DNA and contribute a small number of genes that are essential for cellular respiration and energy generation.

Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress caused by our body's internal energy production, fighting off infection, and repairing damage. Our bodies produce them naturally and they can be obtained less efficiently in food, but with over 200 conditions related to mitochondria, the energy factories in our cells, the future belongs to treatments that can repair damage to them.
Tiny biological clocks attached to our chromosomes can't tell us the exact moment of our death, but they can narrow it down. These DNA end caps, called telomeres, are the great predictors of life expectancy: the shorter your telomeres, the shorter your lifespan.

But shorter telomeres also indicate a greater chance for bone marrow failure, liver disease, skin disease and lung disease. Knowing that, scientists have been experimenting with telomeres over the last three decades, trying to figure out ways to extend them and studying mutations within them. Now researchers have found another link to telomeres and lung disease.

Researchers have cracked a code that governs infections by the common cold and polio viruses.

The code was known, it was 'hidden in plain sight' in the sequence of the ribonucleic acid (RNA) that makes up this type of viral genome but its meaning had not been unlocked. Now, researchers have found that jamming the code can disrupt virus assembly. Stopping a virus assembling can stop it functioning and therefore prevent disease. 

Single-stranded RNA viruses are the simplest type of virus and were probably one of the earliest to evolve. However, they are still among the most potent and damaging of infectious pathogens.

An insulin-regulating hormone that had only been postulated to exist has been discovered.

The hormone, called limostatin after the Greek goddess of starvation, Limos, tamps down circulating insulin levels during recovery from fasting or starvation. In this way, it ensures that precious nutrients remain in the blood long enough to rebuild starving tissues, rather than being rapidly squirreled away into less-accessible fat cells.

The researchers first discovered limostatin in fruit flies but then quickly identified a protein with a similar function in humans.
Some babies seem to have a genetic predisposition to a higher risk of being born too soon, according to a paper being presented Thursday at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting in San Diego.

The study Birth found that variants in the fetus's DNA - not the mother's - may be what triggers some early births. 
Researchers have revealed that genetically modified Camelina plants produce omega-3 fish oils suitable for feeding Atlantic salmon. The new GMO plants can produce up to 20% of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the two omega-3 LC PUFA conferring health benefits. 

Consumption of omega-3 fish oils, specifically long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 LC-PUFA), through eating oily fish like salmon and mackerel, has been linked with improved cardiovascular health and cognitive development. The primary dietary sources of these fatty acids are wild or farmed fish.
Researchers have mapped the physical structure of the nuclear landscape to better understand changes in genomic interactions occurring in cell senescence and aging.

Their findings have allowed them to reconcile the contradictory observations of two current models of aging: cellular senescence of connective tissue cells called fibroblasts and cellular models of an accelerated aging syndrome.