Weekly Roundup: biotechin.asia

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November 16-23, 2015

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Bacteria now resistant even to ‘last resort’ antibiotics

Well that’s ironic. As if to mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week, antibiotic resistance just got a whole lot scarier. Resistance genes identified in China suggests we could soon see bacteria that are resistant to every known type of antibiotic, and these genes have already been found in bacteria infecting people. Until now, a type of bacteria known as Gram negative have remained susceptible to one particular class of antibiotics, called polymyxins. These have become known as “last resort” antibiotics, increasingly used to treat infections that resist every other kind. In 2012, the World Health Organisation classified colistin, the most widely used polymyxin, as being critically important for human health. But that didn’t stop farmers around the world, especially in China, from using large quantities of colistin to fatten up pigs and chickens. (Click here to read more)

Size matters when it comes to sperm dominance

A tiny fruit fly has the bizarre distinction of possessing the longest sperm of any animal — 20 times the length of its own body and 1,000 times that of human sperm. Not longer in proportion to its body size, just longer. Period. It is a freakish extreme, but as a general rule, scientists have long known that the smallest animals have the biggest sperm, and vice versa. In a study published Wednesday, researchers said not only sperm length, but also numbers, are determined by an animal’s size. A mouse ejaculation contains about 9.5 million sperm — each about 124 micrometres long — and that of an elephant (56 micrometres) over 200 billion sperm, they said. (Click here to read more)

UV Exposure May Be Less Damaging in the Morning

“If you really must go to a tanning booth, do it in the morning,” says Nobel Laureate Aziz Sancar, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, U.S. A tanning booth is a device usually used for the purpose of cosmetic tan. They use very high output lamps that emits UV rays which is similar to Mediterranean sun during mid day. People who get a lot of UV exposure are at greater risk for skin cancers. Our body has their own repair mechanism protecting us from DNA damage. Nucleotide excision repair, a mechanism where cells use to repair the DNA damage induced by ultraviolet rays (UV). Humans are most likely to have maximum repair capacity in the morning hours. (Click here to read more)

Stanford researchers uncover patterns in how scientists lie about their data

Even the best poker players have “tells” that give away when they’re bluffing with a weak hand. Scientists who commit fraud have similar, but even more subtle, tells, and a pair of Stanford researchers have cracked the writing patterns of scientists who attempt to pass along falsified data. The work, published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, could eventually help scientists identify falsified research before it is published. There is a fair amount of research dedicated to understanding the ways liars lie. Studies have shown that liars generally tend to express more negative emotion terms and use fewer first-person pronouns. Fraudulent financial reports typically display higher levels of linguistic obfuscation – phrasing that is meant to distract from or conceal the fake data – than accurate reports. (Click here to read more)

National University of Singapore: S$25 million research programme in synthetic biology

The National University of Singapore (NUS) announced the launch of the NUS Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation (SynCTI) in October 2015, to develop the research capabilities in the field of synthetic biology in Singapore. Synthetic biology combines disciplines such as biotechnology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, systems biology, biophysics, computer engineering, and genetic engineering. This emerging field of research involves the design and creation of novel artificial biological systems or redesigning of existing biological systems for useful purposes. The global market for synthetic biology is estimated to be more than US$10 billion by 2016, and this field has the potential to be a driver for the economies of countries like Singapore. (Click here to read more)

Nutrition aids in the repair of neurons

It was believed that barring neurons, other types of cells are capable of regeneration. The idea that we are born with a constant number of neurons that degenerates as we age was widely believed despite evidence against the same. However in 1998, Scientist Dennis Steindler proved this hypothesis wrong by discovering neural stem cells, that could develop into other brain cells-growing on the lining of the brain’s internal cavities and in the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped region in the front of the brain associated with memory. The cells were found to multiple and create daughter cells that were capable of storing memories and repair. Hence it was hypothesized that these cells could be used to cure several neuro-degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Though these neural stem cells could regenerate, the over production resulted in tumors and negated the positives of the stem cells. (Click here to read more)

What does the real world of data science look like?

Working in the real world of data science is much different from studying it. Moreover, working as a data scientist in the industry doesn’t always mean the big picture is clear. Working with an independent advisor can expose and rectify these issues. Monica Rogati, a data science advisor for Insight Data Science, spoke with Jeff Frick, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLEMedia team, at the Women in Data Science Conference, held at Stanford University, about advice she provides for academia and business clients. (Click here to read more)