biology

The Scientific Activist

Category archives for biology

Do You Work on E. Coli?

If so, you should check out EcoliWiki, which you might find a useful resource, and you might even find yourself compelled to contribute some of your knowledge to it. Since I’m already blogging about E. coli today, I thought I would also bring up an interesting project I found out about earlier this week. I’m…

E. coli, We Hardly Knew You

Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life by Carl Zimmer Pantheon: 2008, 256 pages. Buy now! (Amazon) I come face-to-face with Escherichia coli every day. In a sense, we all do–as billions of E. coli inhabit every individual’s intestines. But for me, E. coli is a protein factory. I’m a structural biologist, and…

Molecule of the Day has a post up about isotopically-enriched food that caught my eye for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the idea is wildly outrageous, and, secondly, this is something that actually gets joked about quite a bit in an NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) lab. Any given element can come in various isotopes, which…

Why Are Veins Blue?

When someone asks the question “why are veins blue?” a likely response is that they’re blue because the blood in veins is deoxygenated. While it’s true that venous blood vessels carry a lower concentration of oxygen than their arterial counterparts, this isn’t the reason for their blue appearance in your skin. Still, when someone invariably…

The New York Times reported yesterday that “scientists find new receptor for HIV,” referring to a paper published online in Nature Immunology on Sunday by Arthos et al. This is basically correct, although it would be more accurate to call the new receptor a co-receptor, since the infection of a cell with HIV still depends…

An individual cell inside the human body is in a dynamic environment: it not only has to anchor itself to its surroundings but also be able to communicate with them and respond as appropriate. One group of proteins–the integrins–play a central role in all of these tasks. The integrins are large (about 200,000 Da) membrane-spanning…

Stem Cells from Down Under

Two weeks ago, on November 15th, researchers reported in the Journal of Translational Medicine (see citation below) that they had successfully isolated and characterized stem cells from menstrual blood. The researchers, Meng et al., were able to differentiate these cells–called Endometrial Regenerative Cells (ERCs)–into nine distinct cell types, and the stem cells displayed other encouraging…

From today’s (well, technically, tomorrow’s) New Zealand Herald: Creature from hell promises salvation by Errol Kiong Scientists have discovered a methane-eating bacterium at Hell’s Gate in Rotorua which may offer hope for global warming. Researchers at GNS Science hope their discovery of the bacterium could one day be used to cut down methane gas emissions…

That could easily have been the shared title of a pair of articles in today’s New York Times discussing the science and political implications of two very significant stem cell papers published online yesterday. The biggest offender was Sheryl Stolberg: It has been more than six years since President Bush, in the first major televised…

The winners of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine were announced this morning. The prize went to Mario R. Capecchi (University of Utah), Martin J. Evans (Cardiff University), and Oliver Smithies (UNC), all for their work contributing to knockout (and knock-in) mice becoming one of the most powerful scientific tools available to biologists…