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  • Blog Housekeeping

    A Word on Blog Topics

    I’ve had some queries that make me think that a brief meta-blog entry might be in order. I’m still fielding a lot of coronavirus queries, not all of which by any means make it up here to the blog. And at the same time, I’m also getting a lot of suggestions that are more in… Read More
  • Aging and Lifespan

    Clearing Cellular Dead Wood

    For many years now, the topic of “senescent cells” has been the subject of plenty of research work. Back in the 1960s the “Hayflick limit” was noticed in cell culture: there was an apparent limit to the number of cell divisions that could take place before the cells just sort of stalled out. For human… Read More
  • Biological News

    CRISPR Editing in Primates

    There’s some really interesting CRISPR news out today, and it’s likely to be a forerunner of much more news to come. A research team has demonstrated what looks like robust, long-lasting effects in a primate model after one injection of the CRISPR enzymatic machinery. There have been plenty of rodent reports on various forms of… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Coronavirus Origins

    I’m going to regret writing about this, but it’s not a topic to be ignored. Where did the current coronavirus come from? If you ask that question, you get all sorts of answers from all sorts of people. Let me downgrade some of those right up front. To start at the far end of the… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Ripping Out Amines

    I’ve been meaning to write about this new synthetic organic chemistry paper, because it’s just so weird. That adjective probably needs a little explanation. The next few paragraphs will try to provide that; then we’ll get down to the paper itself. Probably a good fraction of the readership here has had at least the sophomore-organ… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Treatment With MDMA

    A theme that I return to every so often on the blog is the degree to which we don’t understand the molecular mechanisms of psychiatric syndromes. I’ve found that many people outside of the biomedical world are surprised by this – depression, for example, is something that’s distinctive enough, widespread enough, and certainl… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Tie Me Proteins All Down, Sport

    There are a lot of slick ideas in molecular and chemical biology that depend on immobilizing proteins or small molecules onto solid supports. Consider affinity chromatography: if you can tether a “bait” onto some solid matrix, you can then flow all sorts of mixtures over it (gorp from freshly lysed cells, for example) and let… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    An Outside Perspective

    Since I mentioned retrotransposons and accumulated retroviral genomic litter in yesterday’s post, I’ll get a bit philosophical about that today. I’ve had a couple of interactions with people who read about all this and didn’t realize what state our genomes are in, and they were struck by all this. As they should be! It reall… Read More
  • Biological News

    Integration Into the Human Genome?

    I’ve had several requests for comment on this recent PNAS paper, which talks about integration of SARS-CoV-2 sequences into the DNA of human cells. I’m glad to do it, but right off I have to note that a lot of the attention that it’s getting seems (sadly) to be coming from anti-vaccine activists, who are… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Waiving IP

    The announcement by the Biden administration about waiving IP rights to the coronavirus vaccines obviously calls for some comment. Keep in mind that I have been doing research in the pharma industry for over 30 years now, so my viewpoint is obviously going to be affected by that, for better and for worse. With that… Read More