Archive for August, 2006

Bringing back the woolly mammoth – maybe – Yahoo! News

August 15, 2006

Bringing back the woolly mammoth – maybe – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Descendants of extinct mammals like the giant woolly mammoth might one day walk the Earth again. It isn’t exactly Jurassic Park, but Japanese researchers are looking at the possibility of using sperm from frozen animals to inseminate living relatives.

So far they’ve succeeded with mice — some frozen as long as 15 years — and lead researcher Dr. Atsuo Ogura says he would like to try experiments in larger animals.”
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Ok then. Where did they get that idea? Maybe that’s what fertility doctors dream up when they are at the bar and have had a few too many bottles of sake.

New Scientist News – Make mine a zombie vaccine

August 1, 2006

New Scientist News – Make mine a zombie vaccine: “Zombie bacteria have been created that could be used to make more stable vaccines.

Traditionally, vaccines use either ‘attenuated’ live bacteria, grown in conditions that disable their virulent properties, or killed bacteria. Attenuated live vaccines promote a strong immune response, but can be difficult to store and transport safely, while killed bacteria don’t work as well in triggering immunity.

Now there could be a third option. Sandip Datta and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, irradiated live Listeria monocytogenes with gamma rays, breaking up their DNA so that they couldn’t reproduce, but leaving enough residual metabolic activity to activate an immune response. When injected into mice, the ‘zombie’ bugs prevented reinfection in 80 per cent of cases (Immunity, DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2006.05.013).

Unlike most vaccines, the irradiated Listeria don’t need to be kept chilled. If the approach works with other strains of bacteria, it could lead to vaccines that are cheaper and easier to store for use in developing nations.”
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Now, you might find the whole thing disturbing, but really it’s the last two sentences that scare me. Because, you know, it always seemed like a good thing at the time.