Viruses are skillful mutants, changing their structures or outer proteins to evade the shifting natural defenses of their targets. (This is why you have to get a flu shot every year.) Now researchers in France report using one of the most proficient mutants, HIV, to fight another intractable disease: Cancer.
The first serious indications of the ecosystem impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan are in, and they're troubling. Researchers there collected 144 common pale grass blue butterflies from the region a couple of months after the catastrophic nuclear meltdowns leaked radiation into the environment last year. After studying them for a few generations, those researchers are finding signs of genetic mutations that are leading to physical abnormalities.
A type of statistical analysis used to study high-energy physics and stock market fluctuations could yield a new angle of attack in the fight against the virus that causes AIDS. A surgical strike on specific, steadfast sectors of HIV could lead to new drugs or vaccines, according to a new study.
After a half-century of relative inactivity in the U.S., bedbugs returned in the late 1990s. Nationwide, 95 percent of pest-control companies have treated an infestation in the past year. A decade ago, it was just 22 percent.
Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have successfully induced an artificial kind of “natural selection” to create enzymes that can protect animals against the effects of nerve gas. It's almost an accelerated evolution--one that could help protect people from nerve agent poisoning using our own natural defenses as a starting point.
Success in chess is all about anticipation -- you have to plan your moves by guessing what your opponent will do. Now scientists are taking a page from Bobby Fischer's book to fight a wily foe: drug-resistant staph bacteria, which stymies drug therapies with its swift mutation strategy. Researchers led by Bruce Donald, a professor of computer science and biochemistry at Duke University, are using a computer algorithm to predict MRSA's next move.
The fight against pathogens is usually reactionary; a pathogen evolves or mutates, developing a drug resistance or finding a more efficient path toward infection, and researchers scramble to shift tactics for fighting off said pathogen. That’s not good enough for DARPA, which wants a means to look into the future so researchers can stop an outbreak of a potentially dangerous pandemic before it ever begins.
Viruses can rapidly evolve and adapt to the latest antiviral drugs in a never-ending war of survival. Yet some scientists have spent the past 10 years working on ways to turn that rapid mutation against the viruses. Carl Zimmer, a science writer with a special fondness for parasites, described the challenges facing those scientists in a recent New York Times story.
In a major step toward understanding cancer, one of the biggest problems bedeviling modern medicine, scientists have now cracked the genetic code for two of the most common cancers. This marks just the beginning of an international effort to catalog all the genes that go wrong among the many types of human cancer, the BBC reports.