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From the College of Natural Sciences
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.

Partly Human Yeast Show A Common Ancestor’s Lasting Legacy

Partly Human Yeast Show A Common Ancestor’s Lasting Legacy

Humanized Yeast illustrationDespite a billion years of evolution separating humans from the baker’s yeast in their refrigerators, hundreds of genes from an ancestor that the two species have in common live on nearly unchanged in them both, say biologists at The University of Texas at Austin. The team created thriving strains of genetically engineered yeast using human genes and found that certain groups of genes are surprisingly stable over evolutionary time.

Bacteria Suppress Their Antibiotic-Resistant Cousins

Bacteria Suppress Their Antibiotic-Resistant Cousins

Researchers studying a dangerous type of bacteria have discovered that the bacteria have the ability to block both their own growth and the growth of their antibiotic-resistant mutants. The discovery might lead to better ways to fight a class of bacteria that have contributed to a growing public health crisis by becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatments.

Mouth Bacteria Can Change Its Diet, Supercomputers Reveal

Mouth Bacteria Can Change Its Diet, Supercomputers Reveal

The following excerpt is from an article and podcast by Jorge Salazar, published August 12, 2014 on the TACC website:

Researchers Discover Why It's So Hard to Grow an Extra Finger

Researchers Discover Why It's So Hard to Grow an Extra Finger

The fact that most humans have five digits on each hand and foot is due in part to a complex developmental pathway called Hedgehog. If something goes wrong in this process during development, say a mutation in a critical gene that affects its expression, a person might be born with extra fingers or toes, a condition known as polydactyly. New research shows that for at least one part of the pathway, there is a sort of failsafe mechanism that seems to make it harder for mistakes to happen.

Possible Explanation for Human Diseases Caused by Defective Ribosomes

Possible Explanation for Human Diseases Caused by Defective Ribosomes

Ribosomes are essential for life, generating all of the proteins required for cells to grow. Mutations in some of the proteins that make ribosomes cause disorders characterized by bone marrow failure and anemia early in life, followed by elevated cancer risk in middle age. These disorders are generally called “ribosomopathies.”

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This Longhorn Has Been Brought to You by DNA

This Longhorn Has Been Brought to You by DNA

In a set of two recent papers, Andy Ellington and his lab show how DNA can make pictures, but more importantly, that DNA circuits could someday be used to manufacture drugs or grow organs, such as a new heart.

Creating a Social Network for Genes

Creating a Social Network for Genes

Computer scientist Inderjit Dhillon and biochemist Edward Marcotte are combining forces to create the first "social network" for genes, with a focus on finding genes associated with human diseases.  

Systems Biologist Receives $2.5 Million Pioneer Award for Genome Research

Systems Biologist Receives $2.5 Million Pioneer Award for Genome Research

Marcotte’s project focuses on what he sees as the next step in “next-generation” genome sequencing technology.