Ongoing CRISPR battle

CRISPR, in addition to being the hottest new gene editing technique, has also been at the heart of a vicious patent battle between the Broad Institute and Berkeley. In a recent update, the US Patent Office has deemed that the patents issued to the Broad Institute (Feng Zhang) valid, which is a major blow to Berkeley (Jennifer Doudna).

Ahhh, science drama.

NPR and Science do a good job summarizing the verdict.

Jon Cohen for Science has written a fantastic article going into the background of how CRISPR technology was discovered and developed, and what has led to the current patent battle.

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Stomach pump- new FDA approved weight loss device. #isthisforreal

No, this is NOT an onion article… the FDA has just approved a weight loss device called Aspire Assist which is essentially a stomach pump that can directly remove food from your stomach after it has been consumed. Glad we’re doing something to battle the obesity problem in this country, however, what happened to good old fashioned diet and exercise?

The Food and Drug Administration approved a weight loss device on Tuesday that pumps food out of a person’s stomach after they eat a meal.

While some have criticized the device as “assisted bulimia,” the FDA stressed in a statement, that the AspireAssist device is not meant for anyone with an eating disorder, and should only be used by adults 22-and-older who are obese and have failed to lose weight through non-surgical methods.

To place the device, a surgeon makes a tiny incision and endoscopically puts a tube in the patient’s stomach, which is attached to a “disk-shaped port that lies outside the body,” according to the statement.  To drain the contents of the stomach, a person should wait twenty or thirty minutes after they eat, and then attach an external connector to the port and open the valve.

According to the statement, 30 percent of the calories consumed during a meal can be removed by the device, which takes five-to-ten minutes to drain the food from the stomach into the toilet. Continue reading

@NIH observes #PRIDE month – How research impacts LGBTQ communities

NIH is observing PRIDE month this June with events on the NIH campus and the ‘telling our stories’ campaign. The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), along with the Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office, and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities are bringing awareness this PRIDE month to how research impacts sexual and gender minority communities. See the NIH Director Francis Collins’ statement to NIH staff for pride month below.

Check out the NIH EDI website here for ‘Telling Our Stories’ and more. Or on twitter @NIH_EDI.

Dear Staff,

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity, diversity, and inclusion in our research and workplace.  As part of that commitment, the NIH will be celebrating this year’s Pride Month with a variety of activities that highlight the meaning of including the sexual and gender minority (SGM) community in our work.  The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), the Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office, and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities are sponsoring several events that will address key areas of interest in working with SGM populations.  The goal of these activities is to understand, in very specific ways, how research impacts sexual and gender minority communities, and how best to conduct research with and for SGM populations.

The theme for this year’s NIH Pride Month is “Telling Our Stories, Claiming Our Power, Standing in Our Truth.”  This theme reflects our understanding of the importance of storytelling in the biomedical research setting.  In each of the four Pride Month events, we have the opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to look at research from a new and different perspective.

Throughout the month-long celebration, EDI will make available on their website video testimonials and written accounts of members of the NIH SGM community and their allies. Through this campaign, we will have the honor of hearing their stories and learning from their experiences.

Each of us has the ability and the responsibility to learn about, understand, and work for the interests of those groups that invite us and trust us to explore research opportunities within their communities.  I hope that during the month of Pride you will pause to reflect upon the diversity of the SGM population and the importance of including this community in our research and other related activities.  SGM research sits at the intersection of our ongoing commitment to equal employment opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and our mission of turning discovery into health.

For more information on the Pride events happening on the NIH campus, please visit http://edi.nih.gov/pride and follow EDI on twitter and Instagram at @NIH_EDI.

Sincerely yours,

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Director

COOL! What happens to your DNA after a year in space?

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Now we can see what the Zika virus looks like! #science #CryoEM

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Kuhn and Rossman Research groups/ Purdue University. From http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/31/11338450/zika-virus-structure-3d-purdue

 

Scientists at Purdue have just published the structure of the Zika virus in Science this week! Using Cryo EM (hey, that’s what I do!), they were able to obtain a 3.8 angstrom resolution reconstruction of the virus. Basically what that means is that we now know what the virus actually looks like, so this will help scientists figure out how to target it.

Summary from The Verge:

The report, published today in Science, describes the virus as a spherical structure resembling that of the dengue virus and other viruses in its genus, known as “flaviviruses.” But the 3D rendition also reveals some important differences. For example, scientists found the virus’ outer shell is slightly different from that of other viruses. This could help researchers attack the virus as a whole, or at the very least, prevent it from attaching to human cells.

Measles and Pertussis outbreaks tied to vaccine refusal @NIHDirector #science

Parents have a responsibility not only to their own children, but to their communities—it’s only by achieving a very high level of population immunity that outbreaks can be prevented. Vaccination is particularly crucial for children with cancer and other diseases that cause immunosuppression. They cannot be vaccinated safely, but are at high risk of severe consequences if they are infected—and, thus, they depend on the community’s so-called “herd immunity” for protection against a potentially fatal illness.

While some parents continue to express concern about a possible link between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders, the original report claiming this connection has been debunked and retracted.  A large number of carefully designed follow up studies have been carried out, and the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence shows no evidence for such a link. That’s why it continues to be so important to get the word out to parents: Have your kids vaccinated.

Top 6 #GMO news stories from @GeneticLiteracy #GLPTop6!

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  1. Moms Across America claims GM salmon not kosher, but Jewish law, tradition say otherwise by Stephan Neidenbach

  2. Cellular clock may help improve cancer treatment, forensic science by Nicholas Staropoli

  3. Genetic engineering in Africa: Part 1: Bananas and Cassavas  || Part 2: Cautious embrace of biotechnology by Steven Cerier

  4. Enviro activists reject synbio solution for Indonesian palm oil-orangutan crisis by Nicholas Staropoli

  5. Life without allergies? Detecting genetically-based food allergies at birth by Meredith Knight

  6. Knowledge of genetic risks from personal DNA tests may not help in changing behavior by Arvind Suresh