BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: thecellwill

Monkeys Cloned with CRISPR Technology

Chinese researchers used CRISPR technology to genetically edit macaque monkey embryos in order to create five monkeys with severe sleeping disorders by removing BMAL1, a gene important for circadian regulation. They then chose the monkey of the five with the most severe symptoms to clone as a model to use for future tests on monkeys with these disorders. The idea behind this research was to create a template to create clone monkeys with the disease to run tests on rather than the real monkeys themselves.

A large issue with this experiment was the ethics behind it. While the end result is to reduce the number of monkeys used in research experiments. According to the study, the disorder in the monkeys resulted in not only lack of sleep but also changes in blood hormones, increased anxiety and depression, and even “schizophrenia-like” behavior. Bioethicist Carolyn Neuhaus thinks the study is morally wrong because the monkeys are used as tools, and the research’s success is based on their suffering.

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Genes

How Non-Antibiotic Drugs May Affect the Human Microbiome

Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Germany tested 1200 medications on 38 types of gut bacteria to see if some non-antibiotic medications still affect bacteria. 835 of these medications were human-cell-targeting, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and antipsychotic compounds. Testing showed that around one-quarter of the drugs tested affected the growth of gut bacteria. The scientists are still unsure if this means that the drugs are harmful. The inhibition of bacterial growth could contribute to the drugs’ side effects, or even be “part of the drugs’ beneficial action.”

The scientists also found a connection between bacteria that weren’t affected by the medications and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, possibly showing a connection between the use of non-antibiotic drugs and the increase in antibiotic resistance, which is a major issue.

Nevertheless, this study advances how we think about medications and their effects on our microbiome, and helps us to understand our own bodies better.

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Antibiotics

The Biology Behind the Formation of Skeletal Muscles

Francois Cote led research in the development of skeletal muscles and discovered not only an integral part of their biological makeup but also two special proteins that allow the muscles to function properly.

He found that skeletal muscles are made up of many smaller cells called myoblasts, cells that originate from the stem cells in the human body. These myoblasts undergo cell fusion to form large skeletal muscles that allow movement in all vertebrates.

To develop and repair muscle, these myoblasts must perform “choreographed dances” to ensure that they fuse together correctly. They must fuse together in exact timing or else the muscle may not be the right size or may lose function. In order to keep the myoblasts in time, two proteins (ClqL4 and Stabilin-2) regulate the timing of cell fusion. If these proteins don’t work properly, it can lead to muscle weaknesses that can inhibit movement. This research is important for understanding and treating muscular diseases.

 

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Doggone Average

Studies have shown that, when compared to other social hunters and carnivorans (an order including dogs, wolves, bears, lions, and hyenas), dogs are not as exceptionally clever as humans might think. Researchers from the University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University tested dogs in trials against other animals in this order. They set out to prove how “clever” dogs really were.

They found that, in previous tests, dogs were commonly compared to chimpanzees, where they often won (which only added to dogs’ reputations). But, when these researchers tested dogs against other social hunters and carnivorans, dogs did not test so well. In fact, dogs may have been domesticated so much that their instincts are now no longer as refined as their wild counterparts. Wolves, who still must hunt for their next meal, will need more honed instincts to survive. In the end, the results weren’t a disappointment. Instead, they were a social commentary on the expectations people put on their pets.

Czechoslovak Wolf Dog “Luna” Chews on Stick

 

 

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