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Science Papers Look into Effect of industrialized life on Gut Microbiome, More

The lifestyles of people living in industrialized societies may be threatening the existence of gut microbial communities necessary for optimal human health, according to a review appearing in Science this week. In the article, a pair of Stanford University researchers suggests that aspects of industrialized life — such as processed food consumption and antibiotic use — has led to a "major shift" in the gut microbiota of entire populations that could have unintended and detrimental consequences. "As macroecologists, conservationists, and climate scientists race to document, understand, predict, and delay global changes in our wider environment, microbiota scientists may benefit by using analogous approaches to study and protect our intimate microbial ecosystems," they write. 

A team of Chinese scientists have engineered cells to undergo gene editing when triggered by a compound found in green tea. According to a study in Science Translational Medicine, the investigators engineered cells with CRISPR-Cas9 systems that are activated by the green tea metabolite protocatechuic acid (PCA) and introduced them into human and mouse cell lines. The researchers also implanted PCA-responsive cells — modified to control blood glucose levels — into mouse and monkey models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and found that the animals' glucose levels dropped when they drank concentrated green tea or were given PCA. "This work demonstrates a safe, robust, and convenient strategy for the dynamic remote control of therapeutic outputs for future gene and cell-based precision medicine applications," the authors write.

The Scan

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.

Study Examines Relationship Between Cellular Metabolism, DNA Damage Repair

A new study in Molecular Systems Biology finds that an antioxidant enzyme shifts from mitochondria to the nucleus as part of the DNA damage response.

Stem Cell Systems Target Metastatic Melanoma in Mouse Model

Researchers in Science Translational Medicine describe a pair of stem cell systems aimed at boosting immune responses against metastatic melanoma in the brain.

Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Team Introduces Genomic Data Collection, Analytical Tools

A study in Cell Genomics outlines open-source methods being used to analyze and translate whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequence data from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas.