For the first time ever researchers have grown viable eggs in the lab

One of the key goals in developmental and reproductive biology has been achieved this week which could have incredible implications on both this planet and others. Life has been created in a Petri dish.

In a paper published just this week in Nature, Japanese researchers have been able to grow mouse eggs entirely In vitro. Fibroblasts (skin cells which produce collagen) were reprogrammed to make eggs.

While it is true that cells have been reprogrammed to different types of cell in the past. Creating eggs is much more tricky. Eggs are the ultimate stem-cell, able to create all the bits necessary to an organism from raw genetic blueprints. They are far more flexible than stem cells.

This is very solid work and an important step in the field

– Developmental Biologist Diana laird

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Unvaccinated Vaccinated babies

It is not a new idea that a mothers milk provides immune protection against a number of pathogenic agents via the transfer of antibodies, and indeed recently it was observed that the mothers immune defence plays a key role in the development of asthma and allergies in newborns and young children.

This process is known as “passive immunity”, however a team at the University of California have recently shown that breast milk can also contribute to the development of the baby’s own immune system by a process they are calling “maternal education immunity”.

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Antibiotic ‘Last line of defence under threat’ say researchers

You may have read in the news recently that our last line of defence against bacterial infection has come under serious threat. While hospitals are already forced into using ‘last-resort‘ antibiotics, new research results suggest we may reach breaking point soon.

This final stand against the tide of antibacterial infection comes in the form of Polymyxin. A group of antibiotics with a general structure of a cyclic peptide and a long hydrocarbon tail. They kill bacteria by binding with lipids in the phospolipid membrane and thus disintegrating it. While this group of antibiotics was developed around 60 years ago they are rarely used. This is because they are both neuro- and nephrotoxic; affecting both the nervous system and the kidneys.

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Why herbal medicines may not be such a joke

This post has stemmed directly from my undergraduate research, where I tested extracts from the plant Espeletia pycnophylla against microbial pathogens to determine if this plant had potential as an antimicrobial.

Herbal medicines are a type of dietary supplement sold as tablets, capsules, teas and extracts that derive from plants but can also extend to honey and fungal products.The use of plants for medicinal purposes is known as herbalism. When people hear the terms traditional, herbal or alternative medicines many people scoff and picture thoughts of a shaman dancing around a fire blowing smoke in your face shaking maraca’s while calling on the gods for healing, however before the advent of modern medicine plants and natural compounds were used as medicines for thousands of years to treat almost every type of infection. In some developing countries plants are still the only source of medicinal compounds with up to 80% of the population depending upon traditional medicines.

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