Monday, 5 January 2015

News Round-Up

It's high time for the first news round-up of 2015, and boy it got off to a cracker of a start! Who knows, it might even top last year's epic science. While physics is outside the realm of my expertise, I am literally a-froth with anticipation of the Large Hadron Collider starting up again. Mysteries of the Universe are (nearly) as much fun as the mysteries of Life (Science). Grab a coffee and settle in for a recap of last week's top stories.

[caption id="attachment_160" align="alignleft" width="232"]Kids, good luck drawing that in your final exams. It's no double helix, let me tell you. The Rqc2 protein (yellow) binds tRNAs (dark blue, teal) which add amino acids (bright, middle) to a partial protein (green). Complex binds the ribosome (white). Image credit: Janet Iwasa, Ph.D., University of Utah.[/caption]

Protein Builds Protein Without DNA Blueprint

Protein bypasses DNA and mRNA protein-coding molecules to bind tRNA directly and add amino acids to lengthen proteins. The findings, published in Science, show protein Rqc2 adding amino acids alanine and threonine to the ends of damaged proteins by binding two tRNA molecules, which build proteins in the ribosome organelle complex in a cell. While the process is limited to alanine and threonine, it may be that more proteins exist that perform similar functions with other amino acids. Either way, this is a textbook redefining moment.

Cancer's Random Nature And Attitudes On Treatment

Random mutations in cancer-related genes during development are thought to be the main factor behind the majority of cancers. The study at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center focusing on the statistical occurrence of cancer in the general population has found that, in about two-thirds of cancers, the risk of getting cancer is down more to "bad luck" in gene mutations during stem cell division rather than being due to heredity and environment/lifestyle, which account for the other third. They suggest cancer treatment efforts should focus more on early identification. See more on Science Daily, and the Guardian.

Ebola Bats Lived In Hollow Tree At Centre Of Outbreak

Insect-eating bats were likely to have been behind the current outbreak of Ebola in west Africa, German researchers have revealed. A hollow tree where the bats lived and the children of Meliandou, Guinea, played was identified as a possible source after fruit bats and contaminated bushmeat were ruled out. The outbreak began with two-year-old Emile Ouamouno contracting the deadly virus, which spread to members of his family and other villagers - rapidly tearing across the regions which were ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak of this magnitude. See more on last week's blog, or on Science.

Toothed Frog Births Live Tadpoles

A recently discovered fanged frog species has given birth to live tadpoles, the only known species to do so. The new species, from Sulawesi Island in Indonesia, is one of a handful (literally) of frog species that have evolved an internal fertilisation mechanism. These frogs give birth to live, fully-formed baby frogs, called froglets. This new species, however, seems to birth tadpoles similar to those that hatch from the eggs of more common frog species. The finding was especially surprising to Dr Jim McGuire, who was holding the frog at the time of happy moment. Read more on BBC.

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