CRISPR just got really real

The great things about CRISPR is its potential do all kinds of interesting things! The scary part about CRISPR is its ability to mutate human embryos and the slippery slope to designer babies. That last part might be an exaggeration… but given that scientists just removed a dangerous mutation from human embryos…. its not too far off.

You can read about it all over the place, but I particularly like this NY Times article.

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Embryos before and after editing.

Learning about being a scientist, from a non scientist!

Leah Samuel at STAT writes a bit about biomedical research. So, to better understand the world of the lab, she spent 10 days at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole Mass.

And she summed up what she learned in this article.

TL;DR version

  1. Lots of stuff gets used only onc
  2. Scientists kill things
  3. Things kill scientists
  4. Findings don’t always mean answers
  5. Fashion is an afterthought

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The diamond in the dirt: discovery of a new antibiotic!

“Scientists have discovered a new kind of antibiotic — buried in dirt. Tests in animals show that it is effective against drug-resistant bacteria, and it could lead to desperately needed treatments for deadly antibiotic-resistant infections.”

This isn’t terribly surprising, most of our antibiotics have been found in dirt. But the practice of digging through the microbial communities in dirt to find antibiotics was thought to be a tapped out approach.

Want to know how scientist did it anyway? Read about it here!

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Sperm packages of ungodly size, genitals that double as a souped-up stomach, and an unexpected set of chewing jaws

And all of those are found in just one species, the Pieris rapaethe cabbage white butterfly.

In an wonderful piece over at the Atlantic, we learn about the crazy sex life/organs of this very common butterfly.

I was enthralled reading the whole thing, but the main investigator is quoted below, is really why I’m sharing this.

“Jumping spiders with telescope eyes are singing and dancing to impress their mates. That butterfly on your kale has a chewing jaw in its reproductive tract that helps it to regain control over its own reproductive timing. It is this ability of life to continually surprise us that brings me such joy as a scientist. And it’s my hope that, in some small way, my work can return some childlike wonder to the daily lives of others. It is only through falling back in love with nature that we stand any chance of saving it.” –Nathan Morehouse

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Breeding a better bee

One problem with honey bees is that we move them around so much. Specifically half of the bees in the US go to California during a critical 22 day period to pollinate the almond orchards.

This means that most bees are best adapted to survive in the California, which means that the PNW bees don’t really thrive in their colder than optimal environment.

Well one bee keeper is taking it upon himself to stop honey production and focus on making queens that are best suited for the Washington and PNW environment! Read about it here.

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