Science Old School:
Mark Samuels’ lab at Dalhousie used positional cloning to identify a novel protein (dubbed SLC25A38 … catchy!) that appears to be responsible for a form of congenital sideroblastic anemia. They also show that SLC25A38 is involved in heme biosynthesis. The paper appeared among Nature Genetics’ advance publications this week.
Science New School:
A pair of scientists at the University of Victoria in BC published a paper in PLoS One this week using computer-based homology searching and structure prediction algorithms to identify a homolog of PCNA (a protein required for lagging strand DNA replication) in Vaccinia, a dsDNA virus, indicating that lagging strand replication mechanisms are conserved across dsDNA entities from viruses to eukaryotes.
Not too far away, at Simon Fraser University, Dr. Sahinalp’s lab developed a search algorithm that may be able to help distinguish ncRNA’s (non-coding RNA) from background genomic sequences. The paper also appeared in PLoS One and the algorithm itself is available at http://compbio.cs.sfu.ca/taverna/smyrna.
April 17, 2009
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First time for blood stem cell factors: Dr. Guy Sauvageau of the University of Montreal produced a large number of blood stem cells in the lab from a smaller sample taken from bone marrow using a novel screening technique to identify mediators of the stem cell repopulating activity. The study was published in this week’s Cell. Dr. Sauvageau said that “[i]t could be possible to envision transplants for all adults from existing umbilical cord blood banks.”
First time for viral destruction of cancer stem cells: A group out of Dalhousie used reovirus on fresh breast cancer tissue removed from a patient, while most cancer studies use cancer cell lines developed for laboratory use. Not only does reovirus kill the cancer stem cells and cancer cells, it also stimulates the body’s anti-cancer immune system.
First time for a dual axis rotational cardiac X-ray: The University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) has the first one of these X-ray machines for clinical use in North America. It produces better images in less time with less dye and less radiation.
First time for driving into space: The headlines said “Calgary scientists determine outer space only an hour’s drive away.” Apparently all the debate about where the atmosphere stops and space begins could have been solved if the scientists involved had gotten out of the lab and into their cars a bit sooner.
First time for a meta-diet: A group at McMaster conducted a meta-study of the effects of various diets on coronary heart disease and concluded that the Mediterranean diet is meta-good, and that trans-fats are meta-bad. The WSJ Health blog said: “So [the analysis] is a useful, if not particularly surprising, guide.”