Biology Breakthroughs 2009-2013 with Synopsis Ans Significance

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  • Topic: DNA, Genome, Virus
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  • Published : February 27, 2013
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Title: Inkayacu – Peru’s Giant Fossil Penguin and the Stories Its Feathers Tell

Source: BY BRIAN SWITEK (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/inkayacu-perus-giant-fossil-penguin-and-the-stories-its-feathers-tell/)

Date Published SEPTEMBER 30, 2010 2:00 PM

Synopsis: Inkayacu paracasensis, a previously unknown genus of prodigious penguin from the 36 million year old strata of Peru, was discovered to have its feathers still intact from the fossil. The extinct giant penguin was unique from its group because of its color. With all thanks to a technique, which has allowed paleontologists to identify the ancient vestiges of color in bird and dinosaur feathers, they have identified that Inkayacus were gray and reddish brown in color. At least some of the coloration of bird feathers comes from microscopic structures called melanosomes, and, as seen in living birds, different melanosome shapes correspond to different colors. Moreover, it has been discovered that the melanosome of the Inkaycu was different from a modern penguin because the melanosomes were also like of the dinosaurs.

Significance: The discovery of Inkayacu paracasensis solidifies possible connections of dinosaurs with other animals through evolution. With this information, the similarities of both species helped paleontologist identify certain dinosaur colors. By using the microanatomy of avian shades as a guide, paleontologists can now narrow down the probable palette of fossil feathers.

Title: Newly identified natural protein blocks HIV, other deadly viruses

Source: University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences (http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2013/02/11/newly_identified_natural_protein_blocks_hiv_other_deadly_viruses.html)

Date Published February 11, 2013 06:40 PM

Synopsis: A team of UCLA-led researchers has identified a protein with broad virus-fighting properties that potentially could be used as a weapon against deadly human pathogenic viruses such as HIV, Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, Nipah and others designated "priority pathogens" for national biosecurity purposes by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. The novel antiviral property of the protein, cholesterol-25-hydroxylase (CH25H), an enzyme that converts cholesterol to an oxysterol called 25-hydroxycholesterol (25HC), which can permeate a cell's wall and block a virus from getting in. The discovery is particularly relevant to efforts to develop broad-spectrum antivirals against an increasing number of merging viral pathogens.

Significance: Without a doubt, this breakthrough is vital as it makes one giant step to modern medicine. This gives hope to humanity that those deadly viruses of today may not be so life threatening in the future.

Title: A Breakthrough in Imaging: A New Way to See a Virus

Source: By JOHN MARKOFF (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/science/13mri.html)

Date Published January 12, 2009

Synopsis: Researchers at an I.B.M. laboratory have captured a three-dimensional image of a biological virus using, for the first time, a technique that has some similarity to magnetic resonance imaging, a tool routinely used by physicians to peer inside the human body. The development of M.R.F.M. as a three-dimensional microscope actually began in 1991 with publication of a speculative paper by a theoretical physicist, John A. Sidles, who was then searching for new tools to help design drugs to combat the AIDS virus. By repeatedly flipping the magnetic field, the researchers are able to cause a minute vibration in the cantilever arm, which can then be measured by a laser beam. By moving the virus through the magnetic field it is possible to build up a 3-D image from many two-dimensional samples.

Significance: This study aids in finding more about microorganisms, particularly viruses and bacteria, by finding out its physical structure more accurately through the 3D microscope. By then, scientists...
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