Category Archives: Biochemistry

Understanding the Reach (and Limits) of the FDA Antimicrobial Ban

Photo by Lars Klintwall Malmqvist.

A Food and Drug Administration ban on over-the-counter antiseptic  soaps and cosmetics containing certain active ingredients goes into effect Sept. 6.  But it’s up to consumers to avoid products the ban doesn’t cover.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
FDA Antimicrobial Ban Leaves Many Products Unchanged

Bark Scorpion Arose from Rare Genetic Event

Arizona bark scorpion glowing under ultraviolet light. Photo by Bryce Alexander.

More than 450 million years ago, the entire genetic instruction book of spiders’ and scorpions’ common ancestor doubled, according to a genomic comparison of the common house spider and the Arizona bark scorpion.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Rare Whole Genome Duplication Gave Rise To Arizona Bark Scorpion

Tobacco Leaves Could Provide Cheap, Scalable Way to Make Zika Vaccine

Tobacco leaves drying. Photo by MRaccine.

Tobacco might have finally found the image upgrade it’s been looking for, as scientists hope to use the plant to produce a safe and cheap Zika vaccine.

If successful in humans, the plant-based approach could provide an effective solution for countries affected by the disease.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Scientists Use Tobacco Plant As Cheap, Scalable Zika Vaccine Factory

Endocrine Pollutants Spike in U.S. Rivers During Low-Flow Periods

The Santa Cruz River just north of Sahuarita, Arizona. Photo by $1LENCE D00600D.

The pipeline leak that spilled sewage into Arizona’s Santa Cruz River is sealed, but another pollution problem persists — one many other American waterways share.

Contaminants of emerging concern, or CECs, are chemicals from drugs and personal care products that most wastewater treatment plants don’t filter out. Some, including estrogenic compounds from products like synthetic birth control, disrupt the hormones of aquatic wildlife, harming reproduction.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
U.S. Streams Like Santa Cruz River See High Endocrine Pollutant Concentrations During Low-Flow

First Human Embryos Edited in U.S. by Scientists

An eight-cell human embryo. Image courtesy Robert Wood Johnson Medical School IVF program.

For the first time in the U.S., scientists have genetically modified human embryos. The technique could help screen out heritable diseases, but many worry where it might ultimately lead.

As rumors spread in advance of the publication, the story sparked comparisons with films like Gattaca and books like Brave New World, with their themes of genetic discrimination, DNA-as-destiny and the social dangers of tampering with human heredity.

But the research’s most important — and, to some, troubling — aspect lies in the fact that it alters the hereditary DNA known as the germline.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
First Human Embryos Edited In U.S. By Scientists