It sounds like a plot from Frankenstein, but apparently there’s no limit to how versatile flatworms can be. Previously, researchers at Tufts University determined that the small, yellow worm can retain its memories after it head was severed. As a reminder, flatworms can regrew new heads following decapitation. Now, the same team yet again guillotined some flatworms and interrupted gap junctions, which are protein channels that enable cells to communicate with each other by passing electrical signals back and forth – just to see what would happen. Yes, the flatworm grew a new head, but it was that of another flatworm species. They eventually induced the same flatworm species to grow the heads and brains of multiple other, closely related species. There’s a lot of biology and behaviour encoded in genes, but these findings show that tweaking physiological mechanisms in a live body can actually cause new anatomical developments. We might have uncovered a new form of epigenetics.
Also known as the water bear, the tardigrade has a lot to be proud of — this tiny organism is nigh-indestructible, known to have survived in extreme temperatures ( -272C to +151C / -457.6F to 303.8F) and to be the only animal that can brave the vacuum of space unprotected and live to tell the tale.
A few days ago, the FDA approved the genetic engineering of modified Atlantic salmon variety. This is the first food animal that was genetically modified that the FDA approved for human consumption and farming; the gene alteration would make it grow much faster. Public reactions have been mixed, as expected. This could be a very good move, greatly reducing the stress on wild populations, but people are always reluctant when it comes to GMOs – especially animals.
After five years long of pondering, the FDA finally gave the green light for a genetically modified Atlantic salmon variety. This is the first food animal that was genetically modified that the FDA approved for human consumption and farming. The salmon has genes from another salmon species, as well as an eel-like fish, which allows it to grow to market size in half the time it would usually take. This means it saves twice as much time and resources as conventional salmon, with no nutritional or health drawbacks, the FDA says.
Scientists have genetically engineered algae to kill up to 90% of cancer cells in the lab, while leaving the healthy ones unharmed.
In a testament to epigenetics, researchers show that it’s possible that the marks of trauma can be transmitted down to subsequent generations.
In a study published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from the University of Queensland caution that the surge in scarlet fever cases may pose an unexpected threat.
When one-year-old Layla Richards, from London, was diagnosed with an aggressive strain of leukaemia, the word ‘incurable’ struck like a hammer.
Just like an ecosystem inhabits an area, so to is your skin inhabited by a swarm of micro-organisms – including viruses.
The concepts of biodiversity and evolution are generally thought of as something that occurs in thousands, maybe millions of years – but every once in a while, scientists catch a species red handed: evolving, becoming a new species.