Also, scientists map the telecommunication system of trees, and engineered synthetic bacteria created

A Novel Drug Delivery Strategy for Brain Disorders

(Drug Discovery Today, Tuo Meng et. al.,5/15/19)

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at Austin used lamprey antigen receptors called variable lymphocyte receptors (VLRs) to target weaknesses in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to deliver drugs to the brain. The BBB usually protects the brain from invaders from the central nervous system (CNS), but can be disrupted by diseases like cancer. The researchers hope that their lamprey-derived delivery system could be used to administer drugs to treat conditions like brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and brain trauma.

Microbes that Connect Trees Mapped

(Gabriel Popkin, Science, 5/15/19)

A ‘global web’ of underground organisms connects trees at great distances. This web is fed by the fungi that grow around trees in forests, which in turn grow deep and spread wide underground in their quest for food. By sharing space with tree roots and connecting with each other over great distances, this network allows trees to, in a sense, communicate with each other. Researchers have managed to map out this network across 70 countries using computer algorithms, and they used their map to predict the types of fungi found in areas their map doesn’t cover.

Scientists Redesign Genome to Create the Most Synthetic Life Form

(Mike McRae, ScienceAlert, 5/16/19)

Cambridge University researchers edited E. coli genomes by replacing codons for creating the amino acid serine. The purpose of the work was to determine whether the synthetic E. coli would be as viable as natural versions with redundant codons. Although the resulting bacteria looks and behaves differently from natural versions, it is still functional.

—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker