AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: biolabski

New IVF procedure makes making babies more affordable

A recent article, published in Reproductive BioMedicine Online, compared current IVF procedures with a new, simpler lab method and concluded that both methods of culturing embryos yield similar results. This was done by American and Belgian researchers. Sixteen babies have successfully been born using this new method, and it can lead to IVF being more affordable and more available to a larger field of people.

IVF babies have been limited to less than 10% of the world population in developed countries due to the high cost of having such a child.

In this method, a reduced cost IVF culture system replaced expensive incubator systems. Despite this new method, the need for surgical egg retrieval, embryo transfer, and lab staffing and egg/embryo freezing still exists.

It is still unclear as to how much less expensive this new method will be, but there is hope that the new embryo culture method will change the philosophy in IVF of using increasingly new and complex instruments.


Photo taken by: ESTHARNIV



Queen Bee and her special gene

A recent article, “Single gene separates queen from workers“, discusses a study published in Biology Letters carried out by scientists from Michigan State University and Wayne State University. They found a gene, which affects not only leg and wing development in bees but also the evolution of a bee’s ability to carry pollen. This gene, known as Ultrabithorax (UBX), gives worker bees the physical feature of their hind legs, which they need to carry pollen. 

Photo taken by: Christopher Down,_Montreux.jpg

Thanks to Ubx, workers develop a smooth spot on their hind legs that is home to their pollen baskets. Elsewhere on their legs, the gene causes the formation of 11 bristles, known as the “pollen comb” and it synthesizes a pollen press, a “protrusion” that packs and transports pollen back to the hive. Queens don’t have these features that the Ubx gene is responsible for. The scientists isolated Ubx and silenced it. The results were the disappearance of the pollen baskets, the growth of pollen combs, and reduction in the size of pollen presses. The scientists also concluded that pollen baskets play a smaller role in bees that are “less socially complex”, and the main scientist, Huang states that:  “We conclude that the evolution of pollen baskets is a major innovation among social insects and is tied directly to more-complex social behaviors.” 

So why is this information important? Well, given the recent downhill trend of bee populations, this research can contribute towards future attempts to make bees better pollinators. Do you think scientists should pursue this?


New technique will identify maternal and paternal contributions to specific DNA


Photo by: gobucks2 Link:

Intro:A recent Ludwig Cancer Research study, conducted at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, was published in Nature Biotechnology. It concerns a new technique, called HaploSeq, that can determine (1) whether a specific gene sequence is maternal or paternal (2) how to better match organ donors (3) how to better understand human migration patterns. This will aid studies concerning how genes contribute to diseases and will be revolutionary in its contributions to modern medicine.

Old Technique: Current gene sequencing is considered quick and cheap: it takes one week and costs $5,000. But, except for sex chromosomes, everyone has two copies of each chromosome, one from the dad and one from the mom. These techniques cannot distinguish between the two, so the source of a gene cannot be determined.

New Technique:

Disease: It distinguishes which genetic variants occur together, concluding that they came from one parent due to their juxtaposition. People at risk for cancer usually have many DNA mutations. This technique can permit scientists to determine if mutations are on same or different chromosomes, assessing level of the risk. Risk is reduced if two mutations are on one chromosome, for the other chromosome can make up for the mutated one.

Organ Donors: A variety of genes contribute to compatibility, but there is variability among them. This technique can determine if DNA differences can create a good match. Researchers believe that in the future, a DNA database can be created to better pair donor and recipients.

Human Migration Patterns: This technique will facilitate the analysis of human migration patterns and ancestry. People can simply compare their DNA to that of others to find any common ancestors. This will allow scientists to compare individuals and their relationships to others on a microscopic level. This contributes to the HapMap project, an international project to access worldwide human genetic variation in order to combat diseases.

Significance: Bing Ren, a scientist conducting this study, said: “In the not too distant future, everyone’s genome will be sequenced. That will become the standard of care.” DNA sequencing is the next step in revolutionary medical techniques, making this study a revelation.


One Step Closer to Curing Cancer

Photo taken by: ἀλέξ

Recently, finding the cure to cancer has been the goal of thousands of bright-eyed scientists around the world. This summer, members of the University of Atlanta, led by Mark Glover, published a study in a medical journal, Structure. In this study, they made some breakthroughs concerning the behavior of two proteins that are involved in repairing DNA: BRCA1 & TopBP1. To put it in very simple terms, BRCA1 brings in proteins to repair the DNA strand if it is damaged, while TopBP1 makes sure that the DNA can copy itself and alerts proteins to help repair it. All along, scientists thought that both of these proteins acted in the exact same way. This new research concluded that their results may be similar, but they respond to a problem in very different ways. The scientists believe that this new information could be used in order to inhibit the repair and copying of the DNA found in cancerous cells. They are currently studying why the TopBP1 chooses to work with the protein it does, and trying to figure out ways that medicine could change the way that these proteins work in order to improve cancer treatments. Do you think that this is in fact the next step to finding a cure to cancer? I think that this new information could induce a big change in how we view cancer treatment. This article, entitled “Discovery about DNA repair could lead to improved cancer treatments” is an intriguing read in my opinion, because so much emphasis is put in the scientific world on curing cancer. It is, after all, the next big step that many are fighting to accomplish first.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Skip to toolbar