News Brief: Oysters That Make Antibiotics, Marijuana For Research, China’s “Friedman” | Science


EVOLUTION

For the first time in an animal history, oysters make their own antibiotics

Natural antibiotics are usually produced by bacteria or molds. but Some oysters produce their own erythromycin, studies have found to be the first animals to possess this ability. spotted hard shell (Petechi whore) has an outer lip covered with mucus and contains special cells that produce antibiotics, according to an international research team. These can protect oysters from disease without an adaptive, lymphocyte-based immune system. The scientists found no evidence of erythromycin-producing bacteria in the shellfish’s tissues; Instead, they noticed that its DNA contained the gene for making erythromycin, which was similar to the one used by bacteria, but different enough that the invertebrate version could have evolved independently. Researchers have found genes in all stages of the mollusk’s life. Its genome contains other genes needed to produce erythromycin, and a related species of oyster contains these antibiotic genes. The findings suggest scientists could engineer cells from other animals to produce their own antibiotics, the authors wrote this week. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

GENE THERAPY

The embryo editing scientist is at it again

In 2018, He Jiankui, whose team experimented with editing the genes of human embryos and then implanting them into the mother, claimed to have opened a new laboratory for “affordable” gene therapy. In 2018, Chinese authorities detained biophysicist He on charges of using CRISPR gene editors to fertilize embryos in vitro. As a result of the experiment, three children were born. He was released from prison in April after a court found him guilty of illegal medical treatment. Last week, he described his latest venture on Weibo, China’s popular social networking platform: His lab in Beijing “aims to overcome 3-5 genetic diseases within 2-3 years to benefit families with rare diseases.” He warned that a Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patient had recently died in a trial testing CRISPR-based gene therapy. “History tells us that when any new technology emerges, it has both an angel and a devil,” he wrote on Weibo. “Blind pursuit of new technology and aggressive progress will surely be punished from heaven.” He said Science He asked billionaire Jack Ma, head of Alibaba Group, for $140 million to fund his new lab’s efforts against DMD.

INFRASTRUCTURE

NSF rules tighten competition for funding

Researchers seeking National Science Foundation (NSF) grants for research equipment will face longer arguments under new rules that don’t require institutions to share costs. this summer, Congress has ordered NSF to end cost-sharing for the $75 million Medical Research Instrument (MRI) program. calculate the entire bill for each successful bid. With a new request (NSF 23-519), the agency plans to reduce the number of awards to 100 from the current 150 next year, with the goal of diversifying the applicant pool and allowing less affluent organizations to receive grants. The reduction in awards will discourage some applicants, said Cheryl Hayashi, a comparative biologist at the American Museum of Natural History who has received MRI grants in the past. “But I don’t see any downside to having more pools.” Each NSF organization will accept three to four applications if the fourth proposal is for an environmentally friendly means.

Friedman equation
Tsinghua University students held up their papers Friedman equation (above) During protests across China against government repression. The equation describing the expansion of space served as a sly reference to the “free man.”
BIOMINACIN

Unlocking Cannabis Research

The US Congress has passed the first independent bill to allow marijuana research and sent it to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it. The measure directs the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to create a streamlined system that allows scientists to register to study cannabis for medical purposes. The legislation also ordered the DEA to quickly register new growers, including universities, to grow and distribute them for research. The bill would require the US Attorney General to conduct an annual review of whether there is an adequate and continuous supply of cannabis for research. The Senate passed the bill Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, on Nov. 16, following a House vote in July. Separately in October, Biden ordered the US attorney general to consider reclassifying the drug, which would make it easier to investigate.

DEFENSE

Dam removal OK’d to increase salmon

The world’s largest dam removal project will begin in 2023 after US regulators last month approved the demolition of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California and Oregon. The unanimous vote by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 17 was the latest regulatory hurdle. Native American tribes and environmentalists have long sought to remove the dams built in the early 20th century, disrupting nearly 600 kilometers of habitat for migratory salmon. Salmon runs in the river have declined to less than 5% of historic levels.

INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Monkeypox gets a neutral name

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week that it will begin calling the monkeypox disease “mpox” (pronounced “em-pox”) after criticism that the current name was racist and stigmatizing. It’s also a misnomer: The virus was first discovered in lab monkeys, but rodents in the wild are likely carriers. During the 1-year transition period, WHO will use both names. Earlier this year, the agency renamed two different categories, or branches, of the monkey virus based on the regions where it was first detected. The coast of the Congo basin is class I, and the coast of West Africa is class II. Monkeypox cases have been declining each week since August worldwide, but hundreds of cases are reported each week and health authorities are still urging people at risk to get vaccinated.

DEFENSE

Countries vote on sustainable shark fishing

Black reef sharks
Blacktip reef sharks are one of dozens of species regulated in international trade.KIMBERLY JEFFREYS/WCS

New trade rules passed last week under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora require nearly all shark species hunted for their fins to be caught sustainably. In what supporters called a historic move, 183 countries and the European Union voted to add nearly 100 species of endangered sharks and shark-like rays to Appendix II of the treaty, tripling the number that must be protected from overexploitation. Within 1 year, countries exporting shark fins and meat must ensure that the animals were caught legally and sustainably. Shark populations have been declining for 70 years due to inadequate fishing regulations and enforcement. In particular, the trade in fins, which are used in soups, has collapsed, and 61 species are endangered. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s most recent review, the trade in shark products was nearly $1 billion in 2015. Also, more than 160 species of glass frogs and more than 50 species of turtles and tortoises have been added to the new list of animals overused in the international pet trade.

STANDARD

Adjustments are made to hours and other units

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) decided on November 18 that the controversial leap second, which clockkeepers periodically add to align the atomic clock with the Earth’s rotation, will be abolished in 2035. Invented in 1972 and used 27 times since then, the leap second is disrupting modern telecommunications, banking and other networks. Abandoning this means that astronomical time, based on the rotation of the Earth, will gradually diverge from Coordinated Universal Time, based on cesium vibrations in atomic clocks. BIPM plans to stop adding leap seconds for 100 years, by which time someone may have discovered a long-term fix to the problem. In addition, BIPM added new prefixes to the International System of Units to identify very large and very small measurements. For example, 1 ronnemeter (Rm) is 1 billion billion meters and 1 kwettameter (Qm) is still 1000 times larger; 1 rontometer (rm) is one billionth of a billionth of a meter and 1 kwectometer (qm) is one thousandth of that.



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