Sequencing at Sea – performing real-time DNA sequencing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

Yan Wei Lim, SDSU graduate student and author on the paper, exploring corals in the southern Line (Photo Credit: Rob Edwards)
Yan Wei Lim, SDSU graduate student and author on the paper, exploring corals in the southern Line (Photo Credit: Rob Edwards)

Main Point:

Scientists overcame equipment failure, space constraints and shark-infested waters to do real-time DNA sequencing in a remote field location.

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Study Further:

Daylight was breaking over the central Pacific and coffee brewing aboard the MY Hanse Explorer. Between sips, about a dozen scientists strategized for the day ahead. Some would don wetsuits and slip below the surface to collect water samples around the southern Line Islands’ numerous coral reefs. Others would tinker with the whirring gizmos and delicate machinery strewn throughout the 158-foot research vessel. All shared a single goal: Be the first research group to bring a DNA sequencer out into the field to do remote sequencing in real time. Against an ocean of odds, they succeeded.

This three-week, five-island expedition took place last year with a research crew including San Diego State University computer scientist Rob Edwards, biologist Forest Rohwer, postdoctoral scholar Andreas Haas and graduate student Yan Wei Lim. They were accompanied by several other researchers from the San Diego region and around the world. The researchers published an account of their trip and methods today in the journal PeerJ. Read More …

YbeY is essential for fitness and virulence of Vibrio cholerae and keeps the RNA household in order

Main Points:

YbeY is a conserved protein that is present in most bacteria. A study published on June 5th in PLOS Pathogens examines the function of YbeY in the cholera bacterium and reveals critical roles in RNA metabolism in this and other pathogenic bacteria.

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PLOS Pathogens

Study Further:

Graham Walker, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and colleagues previously studied E. coli YbeY and found that it acts as an “RNase”—a protein that deliberately and specifically cuts RNA molecules and thereby regulates their availability and activity. Turning to Vibrio cholerae to examine the role of YbeY in disease-causing pathogens, they now report that YbeY is essential in this pathogen, critical for cell fitness and general stress tolerance, and involved in the regulation of different classes of RNA targets.

Like in higher organisms, genetic information contained in the DNA of bacteria gets “transcribed” into RNA molecules. Some of these RNAs serve as templates for proteins, others form part of the bacterial protein factories (so-called ribosomes), and yet another group consists of small regulatory RNAs that modulate cellular functions of the bacteria and their hosts.  The researchers demonstrate that YbeY is needed in generating the components for functional ribosomes, for their assembly, and for ribosome quality control—eliminating defective protein factories before they turn out faulty products. Read More …

Public defibrillator shortage helping to boost heart attack deaths away from hospital

Main Point:

Decade-long campaigns to increase public availability and awareness have gone unheeded.

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The restricted availability of defibrillators, and poor understanding of how to use them, are helping to boost the number of deaths from heart attacks occurring outside hospitals, suggests a study of one English county, published online in the journal Heart.

This is despite several campaigns to increase the numbers of these life-saving devices in public places, and the acknowledgement of the importance of their role in the English government’s Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy, published last March, say the authors.

Every minute of delay in administering resuscitation increases the risk of death after a heart attack by between 7% and 10%. Currently, only between 2% and 12% of those who have a heart attack outside hospital live to tell the tale, with the death toll reaching an annual 30,000 across the UK.

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Oral insulin to control sugar would soon be a reality

Oral Insulin could be a reality soon (Credit: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock)

Main Point:

Scientists have successfully administered and utilized insulin through mouth in rats and this would be a huge success against diabetes, if the same experiment will successfully be done on humans.

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Something about Insulin therapy:

Scientists are working on and improving insulin therapy for diabetes and one of the most optimized way of insulin therapy could be administration through mouth, i.e. oral administration.

The concept of oral insulin is present since 1930s but it is a complicated thing, as insulin, being a protein, quickly destroys after coming in contact with stomach, and it has a huge size making it difficult to be absorbed through bloodstream.

Present Study:

In the present study, scientists worked on the above mentioned problems by packing insulin in tiny packets of lipids (fats) protecting insulin from stomach enzymes and by attaching it to folic acid to activate a transport mechanism, so that its absorption could be improved.

Scientists found that this strategy worked as effectively after oral administration in rats as injected insulin.

“In vivo pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic studies further revealed almost double hypoglycemia and approximately 20% relative bioavailability in comparison with subcutaneously administered standard insulin solution,” Scientists noted.

Although, the dose entering the bloodstream was small as compared to injected insulin but this newly developed oral formulation helped to control blood-sugar level for more than 18 hours as opposed to 6-8 hours after injection.

“Overall the proposed strategy is expected to contribute significantly in the field of designing ligand-anchored, polyelectrolyte-based stable systems in drug delivery,” Scientists wrote.


Insulin pill may soon be a reality – The Conversation (

Ashish Kumar Agrawal et al. (2013). Improved Stability and Antidiabetic Potential of Insulin Containing Folic Acid Functionalized Polymer Stabilized Multilayered Liposomes Following Oral Administration Biomacromolecules DOI: 10.1021/bm401580k