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Scientists create a catalog of human gut bacteria

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A team of researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute has created a vast sample book containing nearly 8000 strains of bacteria from the human intestinal microbiome. As has long been known, most of these bacteria are useful or otherwise not harmful but there is a small minority that contributes to various health problems, including inflammatory bowel diseases.

The data set is available to all other researchers the hope of its creators is that it will help shed more light on the various dynamics of the many populations of bacteria found in the digestive tract of humans, as specified by Eric Alm, director of the Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics as well as professor at Al MIT.

The database was created by analyzing the stool collected from about 90 people in the Boston area over the course of two years. Currently, researchers are trying to improve the same database by analyzing samples from around the world. In this way, for example, it will be possible to identify and catalog the microbial strains that are not found in the intestinal tracts of those people who live in an industrialized area and in any case the catalog will certainly be more complete.

“Exploring this genetic and functional diversity is fascinating – wherever we look, we discover new things. I am convinced that enriching biobanks with a wide variety of strains from individuals living different lifestyles is essential for future progress in human microbiome research,” reports Mathilde Poyet, MIT researcher and one of the main authors of the study that appeared in Nature Medicine.

This study fits into the current stream of new research that is increasingly taking into account the weight and general importance of human microbes. Despite the numerous researches, at the moment it is still difficult to understand the functions of many bacteria and the links they may have with various diseases.

Links/Sources:

http://news.mit.edu/2019/catalogue-human-digestive-gut-bacteria-0902

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
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Frontera, the fifth fastest supercomputer in the world, has been opened at the University of Texas

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The University of Texas has officially “inaugurated” Frontera, the fastest supercomputer available in any university in the world and generally the fifth most powerful computer in the world.

Located in the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) of the Texas faculty, this computer joins Stampede2, the second-fastest supercomputer available for any American university, also located in the same faculty.

These two computers make the University of Texas in Austin one of the leading institutions in the field of supercomputers. The same press release speaks of a “new era” in academic supercomputing with a resource that will help the nation’s best scientists to explore science on a large scale and make the next generation of discoveries.

The Frontera supercomputer has firmly placed fifth in the ranking of the fastest supercomputers in the world reaching 23.5 PetaFLOPS. The computer uses over 16,000 processors and a total of almost half a million cores.

However, the supercomputer has already been used by several researchers in recent months. For example, Olexandr Isayev, a chemist from the University of North Carolina, used it to perform more than 3 million atomic force field calculations in less than 24 hours.

But it is in the field of quantum mechanics that, according to the researchers themselves, this supercomputer will shine. “We are really looking forward to performing large-scale calculations that were not possible before,” says Isayev himself.

Links/Sources:

https://fronteraweb.tacc.utexas.edu/

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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A new dinosaur in Japan that lived 72 million years ago was just classified

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A new Hadrosaurus dinosaur that lived in the late Cretaceous was classified by a group of Japanese researchers.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, talks about the methods of analysis performed by researchers on a fossil found in the formation of Hakobuchi, an island of Hokkaido.

The new dinosaur has been named Kamuysaurus japonicus. The first term refers to “Kamuy,” a deity of the Ainu, an indigenous population of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The second term refers to Japan.

The discovery, made by Yoshitsugu Kobayashi and colleagues, is related to an adrosaur of about eight meters long that lived about 72 million years ago. It can be considered an average-sized adult hadrosaur weighing 4 tonnes or 5.3 tonnes, depending on whether it was walking on two or four legs.

Unique features found by researchers include a small crest on the head and a row of neural spines pointing forward. According to the researchers, the Kamuysaurus japonicus is related to other adrosaurs whose fossils have been found in the Far East. Among the latter are the Chinese Laiyangosaurus and the Russian Kerberosaurus.

Important discovery

This is an important discovery because it could allow a better understanding of the evolution of the Hadrosaurids during the late Cretaceous period, from 100.5 to 66 million years ago, that is until the period of the very disappearance of the dinosaurs.

Moreover, the fact that it was found near the sea, makes this fossil an important finding in relation to the understanding of the development and evolution of the same adrosaurids in such environments. This discovery, in fact, suggests that the members of the adrosaurids and its subfamilies, Hadrosaurinae and Lambeosaurinae, preferred to live near the coasts.

Links/Sources:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-48607-1

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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Scientists discover how typhoid bacterium causes DNA breakage

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A team of researchers at the University of Sheffield studied how the pathogen Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid, accelerates the aging of body cells by “hijacking” molecules for DNA repair.

Typhoid fever, also known as “typhus,” affects more than 21 million people worldwide each year, killing about 168,000 people. The disease is particularly widespread in Southeast Asia.

Researchers have infected human cells with Salmonella typhi in the laboratory and used fluorescent microscopes to understand how this pathogen damaged DNA. They then discovered that it induced a particular form of damage to the DNA itself by taking control of DNA repair machines and making cells more susceptible to infection, in practice accelerating their aging.

DNA repair “machines” are molecules inside the cells that constantly protect our DNA when it is threatened by environmental factors such as ultraviolet light or smoke. By attacking these molecules, the typhoid pathogen causes serious damage that damages cellular DNA.

Daniel Humphreys, one of the authors of the study, comments on the results: “Our results have shown that pathogenic bacteria can accelerate cell aging through a toxin and take advantage of it to establish infections. This makes sense because infections are often more difficult to fight and recover as we age, which is partly due to cellular aging, but the fact that bacterial pathogens affect this phenomenon was unexpected.”

Another author of the study, Sherif El-Khamisy, a researcher at the Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of England, comments: “Until now, how Salmonella typhi’s typhoid toxin contributed to the infection was a mystery. If we want to fight typhoid, understanding how the toxin causes breakage in the DNA of human cells and promotes infection is key and we hope this discovery will be the first step in developing new strategies to control typhoid, which affects some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.”

Researcher Angela Ibler was also involved in the research.

Links/Sources:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12064-1

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]
Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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