Guest Blogger

Recent Posts

Cancer and the Immune System: Deciphering the Relationship

Posted by Guest Blogger on Mar 14, 2017 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger Subhadra Jayaraman, a doctoral candidate at Binghamton University

Cancer is one of the greatest examples of survival of the fittest. Cancer cells find a way to grow haywire, access and create more vasculature to feed themselves, use the blood stream to commute to and invade multiple organs, and most importantly escape the immune mechanisms of the host. The cause, manifestation, diagnosis, recurrence, and treatment of cancer have been extensively explored. Biologists have attempted to study cancer from every possible angle to leave no stone unturned, but cancer has been producing landslide after landslide, only adding more stones to the field.

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Topics: Cancer

Uncertainty about Labor Law Brings More Uncertainty to Postdoc Wages

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jan 11, 2017 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger, Gary McDowell, executive director of Future of Research.

On December 1st 2016, many postdocs working more than 40 hours per week could expect to see their salary raised to at least a new legal minimum of $47,476 per year, under updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This was due to the threshold at which salaried workers receive overtime payment for working more than 40 hours per week increasing from $23,660 to $47,476 per year. This post discusses how a nationwide injunction against the FLSA is affecting universities' decisions to alter postdoc salaries - in some cases reversing these decisions entirely.

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Topics: Career

Truncated gRNAs for Regulating Gene Expression

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jan 10, 2017 10:37:46 AM

This post was contributed by guest bloggers Alissa Lance-Byrne and Alex Chavez, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

CRISPR/Cas9 technology has revolutionized the fields of molecular biology and bioengineering, as it has facilitated the development of a simple and scalable means of making targeted genetic edits. Cas9 is a DNA binding protein that can be directed to virtually any genetic locus when complexed with an appropriately designed small RNA, or guide RNA (gRNA). The gRNA conventionally contains a 20-nucleotide sequence that is complementary to the target site, or protospacer, in the genome. Native Cas9 has two catalytic domains, each of which cleaves one strand of DNA upon binding the protospacer. The resulting double strand break (DSB) stimulates DNA repair mechanisms that can be exploited to either inactivate a gene or introduce a desired genetic alteration.

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Topics: CRISPR

Lambda Red: A Homologous Recombination-based Technique for Genetic Engineering

Posted by Guest Blogger on Dec 15, 2016 10:57:02 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger, Beth Kenkel, a research scientist at the University of Washington.

Restriction enzyme cloning is the workhorse of molecular cloning; however, one of its biggest limitations is that sequence modifications can only be made at restriction enzyme cut sites. The lambda red system is an alternative method that can be used for cloning or genome engineering and is based on homologous recombination. It allows for direct modification of DNA within E. coli and is independent of restriction sites. The lambda red system is derived from the lambda red bacteriophage and its use as a genetic engineering tool is frequently called recombineering - short for homologous recombination-mediated genetic engineering.  It can be used to make an assortment of modifications: insertion and deletion of selectable and non-selectable sequences, point mutations or other small base pair changes, and the addition of protein tags. It also has the flexibility to modify the E. coli chromosome, plasmid DNA or BAC DNA. 

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Topics: Genome Engineering, Techniques, Microbiology

Mesothelioma - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Posted by Guest Blogger on Dec 13, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

We have learned much about the causes of cancer and the different avenues that can be used to treat it. For those who are running out of hope with more traditional treatments, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, immunotherapy is coming to the fore as a cutting edge form of cancer treatment. With the goal of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative being to cure cancer, more funding and research opportunities are being provided to immunotherapy than ever before. Although different types of cancer have different challenges and obstacles to overcome, mesothelioma sufferers can see great promise in up and coming treatments like immunotherapy.

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Topics: Cancer

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