Monthly Archives: May 2014

Erase/Rewind: editing the epigenome


Recent developments in genome-editing technologies have turned the biotech industry's dream of mastering nature into a fast approaching reality. Want to change the color of an ear of corn? All you need to do is edit the relevant gene using the CRISPR/Cas system. But some traits cannot be edited at the genomic level. The three… Read more »


The battle of the sexes

Ann Van Soom

In this guest blog, Ann Van Soom, currently a Full Professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Belgium, writes about male:female sex ratios, and comments on an article published today in BMC Genomics. When I was a little girl, I asked  my father whether there were more boys or girls in the world…. Read more »


Walking, but not flying, with moas

owen and moa

Ever since seeing this amazing computer reconstruction of moas on David Attenborough’s Life of Birds, I’ve been slightly obsessed by them.  These giant birds seem to have died out in around 1400, hunted to extinction by the Maori who arrived on the island about a century before. There have been the odd unsubstantiated report of… Read more »


How do geckos climb?


What do insects and geckos have in common? The answer, from the recent Royal Society conference on cell adhesion, is that their climbing mechanism depends on van der Waals forces (as well as friction and shear stress). However, at a structural and molecular level, the way they attach to surfaces is different. This was the… Read more »


Targeting skeletal muscle to treat SBMA

Two recent reports by Cortes et al. and Lieberman et al. reveal a novel role of skeletal muscle on SBMA pathology and opens new avenues for alternative therapies against motor neuron disorders. Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a progressive neuromuscular disorder characterized by primary motor neuron degeneration and muscle weakness. SBMA is caused… Read more »


Improving lung cancer screening using epigenetic markers


Written by Dr Anne-Marie Baird, Queensland University of Technology, Australia Lung cancer is responsible for more cancer-related deaths worldwide than any other cancer type, accounting for approximately 1.37 million deaths annually1. Data from the recent National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) has demonstrated that screening high-risk smokers with low dose helical CT lead to a reduction… Read more »