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    Within moments of her death, an anonymous Bay Area woman gave the most abundant of gifts: 17 different tissues and organs. Some were transplanted into strangers in need, but many others were rushed off on a more unique mission. They were donated for research – contributing to a first-ever detailed “cell atlas,” a reference guide of cell types and behaviors that will transform our understanding of health and disease. She was one of 15 different California donors to the Tabula Sapiens project, a team of dozens of surgeons, scientists, and tissue recovery coordinators led by San Francisco’s CZ Biohub in collaboration with Donor Network West, Stanford, UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley. For grieving families, “saying ‘yes’ to research is a source of pride,” said Dr. Ahmad Salehi, director of research for Donor Network West, the federally designated organ procurement organization for Northern California and Northern Nevada. The project is part of an ambitious international effort of more than 2,300 experts from 83 countries — including powerhouses Broad Institute of MIT, Harvard and Britain’s Sanger Institute — to build a...
    At the dawn of a new year, it’s not uncommon for people take inventory of their personal health and strive to make positive changes. Being more conscientious of the foods they put into their bodies is a start, but some individuals may wonder if supplementation can help them go one step further. Nutrition Insight reports that 77 percent of American adults consume dietary supplements, and Nutraceuticals World indicates 98 percent of adult supplement users are taking vitamins and minerals. Individuals considering supplements should always discuss them with their physicians prior to including them in their health regimens. Even those who haven’t considered supplements can discuss them with their physicians, as Harvard Health, MedlinePlus and the U.S. National Library of Medicine note that various products can provide some significant benefits. – Vitamin A (retinoids/carotene): Beta carotene can be converted into vitamin A as needed. It plays an important role in vision, keeps tissues and skin healthy, and also is involved with bone growth. – Vitamin B1 (thiamin): Helps convert food into energy, and is essential for brain health and nerve function....
    Future Covid vaccines should be designed to target a different part of the virus so that they are variant-proof, researchers ruled today.  Current jabs — like Pfizer's and AstraZeneca's — have been developed to recognise the pathogen's spike protein, which it uses to latch onto human cells. They are being made weaker with each new strain because lots of mutation occurs on the spike, making it harder for jabbed people's bodies to recognise the virus. Experts say future vaccines should hone in on certain proteins within Covid's structural body, which it uses to replicate. These mutate much more rarely. Scientists also claimed past exposure to seasonal coronaviruses, like the ones that cause common colds, also help people fight off Covid.  The findings are from a study of more than more than 700 healthcare workers who were swabbed weekly for four months. A tenth of volunteers who regularly tested negative had T cells that worked against Covid's replication proteins, part of the virus's internal machinery.     Academics believe honing in on certain proteins the pathogen uses to replicate in the next generation...
    Male colonies are recognized by the transparent packets of sperm they release into the water. The sperm packets swim to a female colony, then divide into individual sperm cells that enter the individual female cells and combine to produce a new generation. Y The ‘bisexual factor’ gene is found on a separate chromosome in male and female sex cells. It’s a great discovery considering how small these organisms are: they barely have 32 or 64 cells. Never before has a species of algae or fungi been found to have three sexes. The team describes him as a “new haploid mating system” completely unique to algae. And it is that, traditionally, algae can reproduce asexually (cloning themselves) or sexually (with a partner), depending on the stage of the life cycle in which they are. It can be haploid (with a single set of chromosomes) or diploid (with two sets). But the researchers found that genetically bisexual P. starrii produced male and female sex colonies when isolated, and reproduced through cloning. Taking a closer look, they found that the bisexual factor gene...
    A species of freshwater algae collected from lakes in Japan has evolved to have three different sexes, all of which breed in pairs with each other.  The three sexes are male, female and bisexual, which researchers say is because the third sex can produce both male and female sex cells in a single genotype. The team notes that this algae is different from a hermaphrodite because it developed its sex cells under a normal gene expression, while a hermaphroditic individual who can produce both the male and female sex cells usually exists due to unusual gene expression. The Pleodornia starri (P. starrii) was discovered by the University of Tokyo and is the first case of algae or fungi to have three sexes.  Male colonies are recognized by the clear packets of sperm they release into the water. The sperm packets swim until they hit a female colony, then split up into individual sperm cells that enter individual female cells and combine to produce a new generation. And the 'bisexual factor' gene is located on a chromosome separate from the male and...
    Researchers have developed a method to identify similar cell types from organisms, including fish, rats, tapeworms and sponges, which are hundreds of millions of years apart, and will help fill in the gaps in our understanding of evolution. Cells are the basic elements of life, they are present in every living thing. But how often do you think your cells are like a mouse? Fish? Worm? By comparing different types of cells across the tree of life, biologists can be helped to understand how species are formed and how they adapt to the functional needs of different life forms. In recent years, there has been a growing interest among evolutionary biologists as new technology now allows for the sorting and identification of all cells in all species. “There is a wave in the scientific community to classify all kinds of cells in different organisms,” explained Bo Wang, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University. In response to this possibility, Wang’s laboratory developed a method to combine similar cell types over an evolutionary distance. Their method is detailed in a...
    (CNN)Kelly and Kimberly Standard are identical twins. But their individual experiences with the coronavirus were anything but identical. It started in the spring of 2020, when the 35-year-old sisters went to the emergency room together after experiencing fever and shortness of breath that hadn't gotten better after a few days. Kelly, who was working several jobs, thinks she was exposed to the virus by a coworker at a daycare facility; the sisters and their doctors believe that Kimberly, who was already working from home, picked it up from her sister shortly after. Kelly said she had a bad feeling about the situation. "I have got high blood pressure, I'm diabetic. I have breathing problems -- I'm asthmatic -- and I think this virus is really going to affect [me] and ... I was thinking, 'It's going to get worse,' " she said in an interview with CNN a few weeks ago.Read More Kimberly said she felt the "complete opposite" -- she wasn't really worried. "In my mind, I'm thinking, 'OK, let's get this out of the way and go...
    One single gene alteration in the brains of modern humans may be all that separates us from our extinct Neanderthal cousins, according to a new study. Researchers catalogued differences between the genomes of diverse modern humans and those of our long-dead cousins - the Neanderthals and Denisovans. They found 61 genes that were different, with one - NOVA1 - the key to what makes us 'modern humans' because it influences other genes during early brain development.  The researchers used the discovery to create a 'mini brain' that mimics a Neanderthal mind with stem cells. This enabled them to create a direct comparison with modern humans. They found that the 'Neanderthal-ized' brain organoid 'looked very different' to that of a modern human, with a distinctly different shape and different protein functions. This single genetic alteration could explain modern capabilities in social behaviour, language, adaptation, creativity and use of technology, the team from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine explained. 'Neanderthal-ized' brain organoids (left) look very different from modern human brain organoids (right) - they have a distinctly different shape,...
    Here is something tentative but genuinely fascinating. I promise the payoff is worth it, but first it’s going to require a little bit of background about how the immune system works. Human cells all contain proteins called human leukocyte antigens, or HLAs, which swim around and periodically latch on to invading viruses, which they bring to the surface of the cell. White blood cells, patrolling outside the cells, are always looking for stuff that doesn’t belong, and if an HLA presents an invader to the surface of the cell white blood cells immediately attack and destroy the entire cell. Conversely, if no HLA brings a virus to the surface, then its existence goes undetected and the immune system can’t attack it. Now here’s the interesting part: there are dozens of different kinds of HLAs, and everybody has a different HLA profile. That’s one reason that if you and I both get sneezed on by someone with a cold, one of us might get sick while the other doesn’t. It means that one of us happened to have the right HLA...
    A study published by the journal Nature has revealed that pneumonia caused by the coronavirus is different from conventional pneumonia, and has identified the causes. As collected Medical writing, conventional pneumonia is usually bacterial in origin and therefore it can be controlled with antibiotics. In addition, the immune system itself can identify it. Conventional pneumonia rapidly infects large areas of the lung, but instead, SARS-Cov-2 occupies small areas of the lung. Then the virus hijacks immune cells from the lungs and uses them to spread through the lung over a long period of time. The study authors state the simile of the forest fire. Covid-19 is like an outbreak that slowly causes other outbreaks. Those other sources would be the other organs that are usually affected by the virus, such as the kidneys, the brain or the heart. “The complications generated by Covid-19, compared to other pneumonia, could be explained by prolongation in time that the disease is present in the body, “says the study. The researchers identified critical targets for treating severe SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. Targets are immune cells:...
    TRIALS are being planned to see if combining the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines produces a stronger immune response.  The NHS is preparing for the start of the start largest-scale vaccination programme in Britain's history using the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs. ⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates 4Vaccinations are to begin today Credit: Getty Images - Getty 4Trials will begin to see of the two vaccines work togetherCredit: Reuters Another vaccine being developed by Oxford University and drug company AstraZeneca has been shown to be up to 90 per cent effective and can be stored at room temperatures. The Oxford vaccine has yet approved by safety regulators but it is widely expected that it will be and it that’s the case, the trial combining the two vaccines will start. Normally the vaccines will be administered in two doses but the trial will start with one vaccine and with the second jab being of the different kind, The Times reports. The hope is that the two vaccines could complement each other and provide greater immunisation. Kate Bingham, chairwoman of...
    (CNN)There's good news about coronavirus vaccines. At least three of the experimental vaccines show remarkable efficacy, at least according to information released by the makers in news releases.Global vaccine giant AstraZeneca reports its vaccine prevented coronavirus infection 62% of the time when people got two doses a month apart. But in a subgroup of volunteers who got a half dose followed by a full dose a month later, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.That averages out to 70% efficacy. The vaccines made by Pfizer Inc and biotechnology company Moderna appear to protect against symptomatic infection 95% of the time. Pfizer and BioNTech apply for FDA emergency use authorization for coronavirus vaccinePfizer's and Moderna's vaccines use very similar technology, while AstraZeneca uses a different approach. They are among six vaccines getting some kind of federal government support in the United States and dozens in development around the world.Here's a look at the technology behind some of the candidates that are the furthest along in development -- mostly in Phase 3 clinical trials, the last step before seeking the go-ahead from...
    Following news of up to 90% coronavirus vaccine efficacy, AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s effort involves a more traditional method, as opposed to other vaccine candidate platforms. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine involves an inactivated common cold virus isolated from chimpanzees, altered with genes to express the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. "Instead of directly injecting the nucleic acid, an RNA or DNA version of that gene, the gene is delivered in another virus," Dr. William Moss, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health International Vaccine Access Center, previously said. "They're different strategies to, kind of, trick, if you will, our own body to make the virus protein, release it from the cells, and then our immune system responds to that." CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE Moss said Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine under study is known as a "adenovirus vector vaccine," which, according to the American Chemical Society-published trade outlet C&EN, is a vaccine made with a genetically engineered virus. When injected, the jab induces an immune response capable of protecting against COVID-19 disease, said a company announcement. After a phase 2...
    The novel coronavirus uses its "spike proteins" to latch onto and invade human cells. But to do so, the spikes morph into at least 10 different shapes, according to a new study. At the start of the pandemic, scientists rapidly identified the structure of the spike protein, paving the way to target it with vaccines and other drugs. But there's still so much scientists don't know about the interaction between the spike protein and the "doorknob" on the outsides of human cells – called the ACE2 protein. For instance, they aren't sure what intermediate steps the protein takes to kickstart the process of fusing to, and then opening the cell, ultimately dumping viral material into the cell. The novel coronavirus uses its "spike proteins" to latch onto and invade human cells. But to do so, the spikes morph into at least 10 different shapes, according to a new study. (iStock) "The spike protein is the focus of so much research at the minute," said co-lead author Donald Benton, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Francis Crick Institute's Structural Biology of Disease Processes Laboratory in the...
    It is true that the cells of our body have a finite lifespan and that when they die, they are replaced by new cells. However, they don’t all do it at the same time. As noted in the Science Desk Reference of the New York Public Library, we have between 50 and 75 trillion cells in the body. In addition, when the human body dies, it can take hours or even days for all the cells in our body to die. Red blood cells have an approximate life of four months, while white blood cells live for about a year. The cells of the skin live for two to three weeks and, on the other hand, the cells of the colon die after about four days. Sperm live for about three days, while brain cells usually last a lifetime since neurons are not replaced when they die. Also, nothing special happens in the body in a seven-year cycle, since cells are continually dying and replacing each other. For this reason, it should be clarified that the cells of our body...
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