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From the College of Natural Sciences
How to Make the Gene-Editing Tool CRISPR Work Even Better

How to Make the Gene-Editing Tool CRISPR Work Even Better

Among the most significant scientific advances in recent years are the discovery and development of new ways to genetically modify living things using a fast and affordable technology called CRISPR. Now scientists at The University of Texas at Austin say they've identified an easy upgrade for the technology that would lead to more accurate gene editing with increased safety that could open the door for gene editing safe enough for use in humans.

Fighting Hepatitis C Virus, Using Clues from What Killed Bevo XIV

Fighting Hepatitis C Virus, Using Clues from What Killed Bevo XIV

And other adventures in animal viruses teaching us about human disease.

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

This illustration shows the most common structure of DNA found in a cell, called B-DNA. Credit: Richard Wheeler (Zephyris). Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

In the same way that barcodes on your groceries help stores know what's in your cart, DNA barcodes help biologists attach genetic labels to biological molecules to do their own tracking during research, including of how a cancerous tumor evolves, how organs develop or which drug candidates actually work. Unfortunately with current methods, many DNA barcodes have a reliability problem much worse than your corner grocer's. They contain errors about 10 percent of the time, making interpreting data tricky and limiting the kinds of experiments that can be reliably done.

A Change in Bacteria’s Genetic Code Holds Promise of Longer-Lasting Drugs

A Change in Bacteria’s Genetic Code Holds Promise of Longer-Lasting Drugs

An alteration in the genetic code of bacteria holds promise for protein therapeutics. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

By altering the genetic code in bacteria, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have demonstrated a method to make therapeutic proteins more stable, an advance that would improve the drugs' effectiveness and convenience, leading to smaller and less frequent doses of medicine, lower health care costs and fewer side effects for patients with cancer and other diseases.

The 40 Year-old Discovery Behind A Promising New Flu Drug

The 40 Year-old Discovery Behind A Promising New Flu Drug

A discovery that Robert Krug, a University of Texas at Austin molecular biologist, made decades ago has led to the development of a new drug to fight flu infections more effectively than existing drug treatments.

Cancer Agency Awards More than $3 Million to University of Texas at Austin Scientists

Cancer Agency Awards More than $3 Million to University of Texas at Austin Scientists

Three awards totaling $3.19 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) will support cancer research in The University of Texas at Austin's Departments of Molecular Biosciences and Chemistry.

Alumna Tackles Disparities in Cancer Treatment

Alumna Tackles Disparities in Cancer Treatment

Leticia Nogueira. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Leticia Nogueira, Director of Health Services at the American Cancer Society, received her PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2010.

Promise of New Antibiotics Lies with Shackling Tiny Toxic Tetherballs to Bacteria

Promise of New Antibiotics Lies with Shackling Tiny Toxic Tetherballs to Bacteria

Biologists at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a method for rapidly screening hundreds of thousands of potential drugs for fighting infections, an innovation that holds promise for combating the growing scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The method involves engineering bacteria to produce and test molecules that are potentially toxic to themselves.

Building a Solid Structure: A Q&A with Molecular Biosciences Chair Dan Leahy

Building a Solid Structure: A Q&A with Molecular Biosciences Chair Dan Leahy

The Department of Molecular Biosciences was established in 2013. With the help of a recruitment grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), Dan Leahy, a structural biologist from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, became the department's first permanent chair in 2016. We sat down with Leahy to talk about his vision for the college's largest department, how its researchers are working with the Dell Medical School, the department's new facility for cryo-electron microscopy (the technique celebrated by a 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) and his own research on cancer.

Ancient Enzyme Could Boost Power of Liquid Biopsies to Detect and Profile Cancers

Ancient Enzyme Could Boost Power of Liquid Biopsies to Detect and Profile Cancers

Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are developing a new tool for liquid biopsy that could soon provide doctors with a more complete picture of an individual's disease, improving their chances of finding the best treatment, while also sparing patients the pain, inconvenience and long wait times associated with surgical biopsies.

Stone Named Emerging Inventor of the Year

Stone Named Emerging Inventor of the Year

Everett Stone, a research assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named the 2017 Emerging Inventor of the Year by the university's Office of Technology Commercialization. The award is given to recognize faculty members who excel in their fields and whose work produces practicable innovations and life-changing discoveries.

Two Molecular Biologists Receive Early Career Research Awards

Two Molecular Biologists Receive Early Career Research Awards

​Two new UT Austin assistant professors in the Department of Molecular Biosciences have each been awarded highly competitive early career research awards.

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

Oleander aphid. Credit: Alex Wild

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are investigating an innovative new way to protect crops from pathogens, thanks to a four-year cooperative agreement worth up to $5 million awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Insect Allies Program.

Scientist Battling Invincible Microbes Takes Fight to the Silver Screen

Scientist Battling Invincible Microbes Takes Fight to the Silver Screen

Bryan Davies is an assistant professor in molecular biosciences and biotechnologist at the University of Texas at Austin, leading research into how to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and develop new antimicrobials to fight infection.

Ancient Microbes Folded their DNA Similarly to Modern Life Forms

Ancient Microbes Folded their DNA Similarly to Modern Life Forms

Archaea wrap their DNA (yellow) around proteins called histones (blue). The wrapped structure bears an uncanny resemblance to the eukaryotic nucleosome, a bundle of eight histone proteins with DNA spooled around it. But unlike eukaryotes, archaea wind their DNA around just one histone protein, and form a long, twisting structure called a superhelix. Credit: Francesca Mattiroli

As life evolved on Earth, from simple one-celled microbes to complex plants, animals and humans, their DNA grew. And that created a problem: how do you pack more and more DNA into roughly the same-sized cellular compartment? Life's solution: fold it up into a ball. Reporting in the August 10 edition of the journal Science, researchers have discovered that microbes called archaea started folding their DNA in a way very similar to that of modern plants and animals, long before complex life evolved.