Could This Virus Be Good For You?

Viruses are usually thought of as the bad guys — causing everything from Ebola and AIDS to hepatitis and measles. But scientists have been following the curious story of a particular virus that might actually be good for you.

The virus is called GB Virus-C, and more than a billion people alive today have apparently been infected with it at some point during their lives, says Dr. Jack Stapleton, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa.

At first, the scientists who named the virus thought it caused hepatitis in a surgeon (whose initials were “GB”). But it turns out the virus actually came from a small monkey — a marmoset — that had been used in an experiment to diagnose the surgeon. GBV-C had nothing to do with the surgeon’s illness, but that serendipitous finding has led researchers on a globe-trotting investigation of the life and times of this microbial hitchhike


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Ebola outbreak: Virus mutating, scientists warn

Scientists tracking the Ebola outbreak in Guinea say the virus has mutated.

Researchers at the Institut Pasteur in France, which first identified the outbreak last March, are investigating whether it could have become more contagious.

More than 22,000 people have been infected with Ebola and 8,795 have died in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Scientists are starting to analyse hundreds of blood samples from Ebola patients in Guinea.

They are tracking how the virus is changing and trying to establish whether it’s able to jump more easily from person to person

“We know the virus is changing quite a lot,” said human geneticist Dr Anavaj Sakuntabhai.


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The Genetics of Society Researchers.

Researchers aim to unravel the molecular mechanisms by which a single genotype gives rise to diverse castes in eusocial organisms.


Eusocial insects are among the most successful living creatures on Earth. Found in terrestrial ecosystems across the globe (on every continent except Antarctica), the world’s ants alone weigh more than all vertebrates put together. Bees are key pollinators of major crops as well as many other ecologically important plants. Termites construct thermoregulating homes that can dominate the landscape, and that are inspiring new energy-efficient skyscraper designs. The organization and collective decision making of eusocial insects is even yielding new insights into human behavior and what it means to be part of a society. But one of the biggest unanswered questions in our understanding of these complex insect groups is how a single genome can produce such diverse and contrasting physical and behavioral forms, from egg layers, provisioners, and caretakers to soldiers.

In a eusocial colony, reproduction is dominated by one or a few individuals adapted to egg laying, while their offspring—colony workers—display physical and behavioral adaptations that help them perform their subordinate roles. These phenotypic adaptations can be extreme. A leafcutter ant queen is 10 times larger than her smallest workers, for example.  (See photograph below.) And some carpenter ant species have evolved a “kamikaze” caste, born with a self-destruct button that causes the insect to explode upon colony attack, killing itself and covering the invading animals in toxic chemicals. Remarkably, differences in the behavior and morphology of insect castes are usually generated through differences in the expression of identical sets of genes. (There are a few cases of genetically determined castes, but this is the exception, not the rule.)


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This Is Why Glowing Jellyfish Proteins Have Revolutionized Medicine

This Is Why Glowing Jellyfish Proteins Have Revolutionized Medicine

In his new book Illuminating Disease, chemist Marc Zimmer explains how fluorescent proteins have changed science. Taken from glowing jellyfish, these proteins are now one of the most important tools in medicine, used in everything from brain mapping to disease research. And yes, that is a GMO glowing chicken.

Just as the invention of the light microscope opened windows to the world too small to be seen with the naked eye, fluorescent proteins have been used to light up proteins in new and wondrous ways, allowing us to observe previously unseen facets of disease.

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Cambridge Biomedical Closed due to Winter Storm

Due to the severe winter storm approaching we will be closed from 3pm on 26Jan15 and re-open on Thursday 29Jan15.


Check out the latest forecast here


Also, watch the weather from our webcam here


We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Drugs in dirt: Scientists appeal for help

US scientists are asking the public to join them in their quest to mine the Earth’s soil for compounds that could be turned into vital new drugs.

Spurred on by the recent discovery of a potential new antibiotic in soil, the Rockefeller University team want to check dirt from every country in the world.

They have already begun analysing samples from beaches, forests and deserts across five continents.

But they need help getting samples.

Which is where we all come in.

Citizen science

On their Drugs From Dirt website, they say: “The world is a big place and we can’t get get to all of the various corners of it.

“We would like some assistance in sampling soil from around the world. If this sounds interesting to you – sign up.”

They want to hear from people from all countries and are particularly keen to receive samples from unique, unexplored environments such as caves, islands, and hot springs.

Such places, they say, could house the holy grail – compounds produced by soil bacteria that are entirely new to science.

Researcher Dr Sean Brady told the BBC: “We are not after hundreds of thousands of samples. What we really want is a couple of thousand from some really unique places that could contain some really interesting stuff. So it’s not really your garden soil we are after, although that will have plenty of bacteria in it too.”


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Cambridge Biomedical Inc Announces Collaboration with XenTech SAS

Cambridge Biomedical Inc Announces Collaboration with XenTech SAS

Cambridge Biomedical Inc announces collaboration with XenTech SAS based in Evry, France to jointly market CRO services to the biotech and pharmaceutical market in the USA and Europe.

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Cambridge Biomedical

Cambridge Biomedical and Xentech collaborate on bioanalytical and patient derived xenograft services to pharma and biotech market

Boston, MA (PRWEB) January 19, 2015

Cambridge Biomedical Inc announces collaboration with XenTech SAS based in Evry, France to jointly market CRO services to the biotech and pharmaceutical market in the USA and Europe.

Dr. John Reddington, COO of Cambridge Biomedical, commented that “XenTech’s patient-derived primary tumor Xenograft models combined with the experience of Cambridge Biomedical in bioanalytical assay development enables us to provide a cohesive offering from Development through to Phase IV. This collaboration further enables us to provide critical solutions to meet the product development needs of our partners in the burgeoning healthcare community.”

“Cambridge Biomedical and XenTech have the same scientific DNA,” commented Dr. Pascal Leuraud, XenTech Chief Operating Officer.

“This mean that for both partners, the quest for best science drives our CRO activity,” he said.

“We believe this collaboration will open up access to new customers in both the biotech and pharma sectors and allow both partners to cross-fertilize our customer portfolios in the US and Europe,” said Dr. Leuraud.

Cambridge Biomedical
Cambridge Biomedical, based in Boston, Massachusetts, supports sponsors by developing customized assays for small and large molecules, biomarkers, and other critical analytes, along with validation and sample testing in our CLIA certified and CAP accredited, GLP/GCLP compliant facilities,

The Company has extensive expertise in technology transfer, assay development, optimization and validation. It also offers specific services in analytical support for PK/PD studies, biomarker development, clinical assay development, assay validation, specimen analysis, and testing services in support of clinical trial and drug or device development.

Our personalized project management approach, along with a focus on delivering quality results and regulatory submission ready documentation and rapid turnaround times, ensure we meet our client’s product development timelines.

XenTech is a highly innovative French-based biotech laboratory and CRO specializing in the preclinical evaluation of cancer drug efficacy and the identification of biomarkers and therapeutic targets. It offers a unique collection of patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDX), which closely match biological features of patient tumors for each aspect of phenotypic characteristics including histology, gene expression, and genomics and drug response.

XenTech is known worldwide for its renowned oncology translational platform and its unique panel of patient-derived breast cancer xenografts and its extremely experienced scientific team.
Since its foundation in April 2006, XenTech has assembled one of the world’s most impressive collections of PDX models that are extensively characterized by and associated with molecular data, including gene expression, copy number data, and manually curated mutations. Its preclinical platform is of considerable value to translational research in oncology, notably for pharmacology and identification of drug response markers for personalized medicine.

XenTech participates in the development of novel cancer therapies by offering its PDX-based services, tumor models and expertise in preclinical oncology to stakeholders in oncology research. XenTech also develops internal oncology biomarker programs to correlate drug response with molecular features of tumors.

Contact Information

Cambridge Biomedical:
John Reddington PhD DVM
Chief Operating Officer

Pascal Leuraud PhD

How Vitamin D May Fight Colorectal Cancer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Study

Vitamin D Protects Against Colorectal Cancer By Boosting The Immune System

A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators demonstrates that vitamin D can protect some people withcolorectal cancer by perking up the immune system’s vigilance against tumor cells.

The research, published today by the journal Gut, represents the first time that a link between vitamin D and the immune response to cancer has been shown in a large human population. The finding adds to a growing body of research showing that vitamin D – known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure – plays a key role in cancer prevention.

“People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer,” said the study’s senior author, Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, MS, of Dana-Farber, Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T cells that recognize and attack cancer cells. In this study, we wanted to determine if these two phenomena are related: Does vitamin D’s role in the immune system account for the lower rates of colorectal cancer in people with high circulating levels of the vitamin?”


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A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight

Scientists, like mothers, have long suspected that midnight snacking is inadvisable. But until a few years ago, there was little in the way of science behind those suspicions. Now, a new study shows that mice prevented from eating at all hours avoided obesity and metabolic problems — even if their diet was sometimes unhealthful.

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego and elsewhere began experimenting with the eating patterns of laboratory mice in a previous study. On that occasion, some mice consumed high-fat food whenever they wanted; others had the same diet but could eat only during an eight-hour window. None exercised. The mice that ate at all hours soon grew chubby and unwell, with symptoms of diabetes. But the mice on the eight-hour schedule gained little weight and developed no metabolic problems. Those results were published in 2012.

This article appeared in the January 18, 2015 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Taming Bushmeat Chinese farmers’ efforts at rearing wild animals may benefit conservation and reduce human health risks

Amid the bustle of a traditional produce market in southern China’s Guangxi province, a small menagerie surrounded New York-based disease ecologist Peter Daszak: sacks of toads, piles of salamanders, snakes, alligators, nocturnal mammals called civets, herons, and more. “There were hundreds of different species,” he recalls. “The diversity was incredible.”

Used in traditional cuisine and for medicine, the array of meats is in constant demand, and is frequently procured by trapping these animals in the wild. Earlier this year, Daszak and colleagues of his from EcoHealth Alliance were in the region hunting cryptic diversity: pathogens in these animals that are primed to enter human populations when the meat is handled or consumed.

In late 2002, a mysterious virus—the cause of an atypical pneumonia that would later be named severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)—emerged in the human population, likely from an animal source in southern China. The previously unknown coronavirus sickened more than 8,000 people and killed more than 700 in more than 35 countries across the globe. Researchers tracking the epidemic found that a high proportion of the earliest cases occurred in people who had handled wild animals used as food. None were farmers, but seven were chefs at restaurants where several animal species were slaughtered on the premises; one sold snakes at a produce market; and another purchased meat at such markets for restaurants. The SARS coronavirus or viruses very closely related to it were also found in palm civets, raccoon dogs, bats, and other wild mammals (Emerg Infect Dis, doi:10.3201/eid1006.030852, 2004).

To better understand the disease risk posed by eating or handling wild-caught animals, Daszak and other EcoHealth Alliance researchers have recently embarked on a project in Guangxi, Guangdong, and several other provinces in China. The group aims to identify pathogens in blood, fecal, and other samples from wild animals in the region and estimate the risks they pose to human health. In the process, they are also working with farmers who have begun to captive-breed wildlife.


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