Consider this: of the trillions upon trillions of cells in the human body, only about 1 in 10 is actually human. The rest belong to microbes, which colonize every inch of you, from the inside of your mouth to the skin between your toes. It’s no wonder, then, that research is increasingly finding that the diversity of these microbes has important effects on health.
The vast majority of microbes — perhaps up to 100 trillion of them — live in our guts. So-called gut bugs help digest our food, assist our immune systems, maintain the health of the intestines, produce vitamins, aid metabolism and extract calories from food (which is why much research has associated gut bugs with obesity).
To better understand the way gut bugs work, a new study has aimed to categorize the lot of them. The study, led by Peer Bork of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, found that the bacteria in our guts falls into one of three distinct ecosystems, or "enterotypes."
"The three gut types can explain why the uptake of medicines and nutrients varies from person to person," Jeroen Raes, a bioinformatician at Vrije University in Brussels and coauthor of the new study, said in a statement. Which means that knowing a person’s enterotype could someday help doctors tailor drug treatments or diets to suit them better.
Or, [Bork] speculated, doctors might be able to use enterotypes to find alternatives to antibiotics, which are becoming increasingly ineffective. Instead of trying to wipe out disease-causing bacteria that have disrupted the ecological balance of the gut, they could try to provide reinforcements for the good bacteria. "You’d try to restore the type you had before," he said.
For the new study, the research team evaluated stool samples from 22 European individuals, extracted the DNA and determined its composition by using DNA analysis and computers. They also compared the results to other published findings from Japanese and American subjects.
Scientists found that each of the three enterotypes was composed of a unique balance of microbe species. The team named each type after its dominant bacteria: Bacteroides, an enterotype that’s known to break down carbohydrates and is better at making vitamins B2, B5, C and H; Prevotella, which degrades mucus and produces more B1 and folic acid; and Ruminococcus, which…
A team of scientists published a paper today in the journal Science which provides some hopeful news.
Specifically, a team of scientists have discovered a new species of oil-eating microbes which thrive in the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico:
The biological effects and expected fate of the vast amountof oil in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon blowoutare unknown due to the depth and magnitude of this event. Here,we report that the dispersed hydrocarbon plume stimulated deep-seaindigenous -proteobacteria that are closely related to knownpetroleum-degraders. Hydrocarbon-degrading genes coincided withthe concentration of various oil contaminants. Changes in hydrocarboncomposition with distance from the source and incubation experimentswith environmental isolates demonstrate faster-than-expectedhydrocarbon biodegradation rates at 5°C.
Even better, the scientists believe that this new species (pronounced "gamma-proteo-bacteria") may not suck up as much oxygen as previously-discovered species:
Based on theseresults, the potential exists for intrinsic bioremediation ofthe oil plume in the deep-water column without substantial oxygendrawdown.
A newly discovered type of oil-eating microbe is suddenly flourishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Their findings are based on more than 200 samples collected from 17 deepwater sites between May 25 and June 2. They found that the dominant microbe in the oil plume is a new species, closely related to members of Oceanospirillales.
[Lead author Dr. Terry Hazen, co-director of the Earth Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories], suggested that the bacteria may have adapted over time due to periodic leaks and natural seeps of oil in the Gulf.
Scientists also had been concerned that oil-eating activity by microbes would consume large amounts of oxygen in the water, creating a "dead zone" dangerous to other life. But the new study found that oxygen saturation outside the oil plume was 67-percent while within the plume it was 59-percent.
It’s the ultimate science experiment, really — taking a handful of chemicals, mixing them in just the right combination and presto — life!
And after nearly 15 years of such toiling in his labs in Rockville, Md., J. Craig Venter, co-mapper of the human genome, has done just that. Reporting in the journal Science, he describes a remarkable experiment in which he and the team at his eponymous institute have pieced together the entire genome of a bacterium and then inserted those genetic instructions into another bacterium. The cell booted up, and life — by nearly any definition — was created.
"We’re basically getting new life out of the computer," Venter says. "We started with a genetic code in the computer, wrote the ‘software,’ put it into the cell and transformed it biologically into a new species. We’re still stunned by it as a concept."
With Venter’s breakthrough it’s now possible to splice and snap together genetic material to create a Legoland’s worth of new genetic combinations. Ideally, some of these would have robust industrial purposes, such as manufacturing bacteria that can churn out valuable vaccine components to shorten production times during an epidemic, or co-opting organisms such as algae to pump out new sources of biofuel-based energy.
"Just imagine these cells where all we do is put in a new piece of chemical software and all the characteristics of the cell start changing to become what was dictated by the new software," says Venter. "These are biological transformers."
The paper is the final and most critical step toward realizing what began as scientific curiosity among the scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute back in the early 1990s, when many of the same researchers first succeeded in sequencing the entire genome of a self-replicating organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae. That led to the generation of the complete sequencing of the smallest known genome, at 582,000 base pairs, belonging to another bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium. Such smallness was intriguing because it led Venter to the philosophical question that inspired the current research — what was the minimum genome required to create life in the lab?
For the study just released, the answer turned out to be about 1 million, and the paper describes how he did it. DNA is made up of millions of…
Here’s some weekend reading in advance. Consider throwing away economic models based on the misconception that people behave rationally and start anew with the premise that we are like mindless bacteria. – Ilene
Old-time economics saw investors as rational individuals, all behaving autonomously in a logical fashion, rather like Mr. Spock umbilically attached to Deep Thought. Today not even economists really believe that this is how people actually operate, but figuring out something better is a not insignificant task. Psychologists, however, have long known that what happens in the gaps between people is as important as what happens in the gaps between their ears – so is there something going on in the interactions between investors, which causes market instability?
One possible answer comes from the study of bacteria. Just as we might have suspected all along, stockmarket investor behaviour can be modelled by examining the way a bunch of brainless, single celled and barely animate creatures interested only in food and reproduction disport themselves on a Petri plate. Sometimes analogies are just too sweet.
The critical thing about any economic model is that it arrives at results that look like what we actually see in markets. Mostly the jargon fixated commentators who dominate the media are happy to talk in terms of business cycles when, in reality, the only cycles seen in most investing circles are the ones used by the boys and girls delivering lunchboxes. What we actually get, if we look at stockmarkets and stock prices, is something that looks like the readout we see from a seismograph when an earthquake occurs.
If we start by making a few assumptions about what investors actually do in real life – like, for instance, that they don’t behave rationally and that they tend to copy successful behaviour from people they’re closely connected to – we can rapidly create a model that produces outputs that look very different from those generated by models of people who behave independently and rationally. In fact the output of these models looks a lot like the readout we see from a seismograph when an earthquake occurs.
So it seems that the interactions between investors and how these interactions affect their willingness or otherwise to invest is the critical thing in these models.…
As the accelerating global currency wars, global money printing and abdication of fiscal policy on behalf of monetary policy becomes a worldwide pandemic, increasingly more markets are now trading like pennystocks, case in the point the world's second "deepest" stock market, the Nikkei225 has moved nearly 2000 points from high to low in the past two days on no actual news, while last night in particular was a complete embarrassment for anyone who still claims central banks aren't the only thing that moves markets: from up 3% to down 3% (under 14,000) following some "unexpected" comments from Kuroda, and finally closing up just barely, the entire move was tracing every squiggle in the USDJPY.
April Employment vs. April Employment in Previous Years
click on chart for sharper image
Tim writes ... Hello Mish
Bernanke was touting the direction of employment using the familiar "7.5%" numbers and pointing to all the improvement. While granting that more people are working now than in 2010, we recognize tha...
Few stocks have attracted more news over the last six months than nutritional supplement maker Herbalife (NYSE: HLF).
Even casual market observers are aware of the circumstances surrounding the the initial bout of extreme volatility in the name back in December 2012. The shares went into free-fall at the end of the year after hedge fund manager Bill Ackman revealed in typical sanctimonious fashion that his firm Pershing Square Capital Management was short around $1 billion worth of the stock.
Amid much pomp and circumstance, Ackman laid out his short thesis at a New York investment conference and...
HD - Home Depot – Shares in the home improvement retailer are trading lower on Thursday, off the lowest levels of the session but still down 1.25% at $78.69 as of 11:50 a.m. ET, amid a down day for U.S. stocks. Trading traffic in newly issued weekly options on Home Depot suggests some traders are taking advantage of the dip today and positioning for shares in the name to resume hitting record highs next week. The stock yesterday rallied as much as 3.6% to touch an all-time high of $81.56 after the company reported better-than-expected first...
The pre-market anxieties were little changed by this morning's slightly better-than-expected unemployment claims. The eurozone indexes were all down 2% to 3% when the US markets opened. The S&P 500 promptly plunged to its -1.20 intraday low in the first nine minutes of trading. But the index trimmed its losses in an irregular trend to its afternoon intraday high at 2:50 PM, when the market was just a hundredth of a point from break even. This was in contrast to eurozone, where the STOXX 50 closed its session down 2.05%. The S&P 500 saw some selling in the final hour and finished the day at -0.29%, well off its morning low. Presumably the abated selling suggests generally reduced fears about the Fed tapering QE in the near term.
Futures down moderately after yesterday's outside day. The extreme overbought conditions on the weekly and monthly index charts are finally relenting some. Even uber bulls would prefer solid entry points on stocks rather than chasing constantly. The S&P 500 had not touched the 10 day moving average since May 2nd, until yesterday – a not common situation. In theory the S&P 500 could go all the way down to 1597 – which was its primary breakout level – and still be in decent condition, but surely dip buyers trai...
The market went through some gyrations on Wednesday in reaction to Fed Chairman Bernanke’s testimony before the Joint Economic Committee. He first defended continued quant easing by warning, “A premature tightening of monetary policy could lead interest rates to rise temporarily but also would carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending the economic recovery.” Stocks dutifully rallied and all major indexes hit new intraday highs.
But alas, consensus is apparently not a given over the longer term. The minutes hinted that a tapering off could start sooner, “A number of participants expressed willingness to adjust the flow of purchases downward as early as the June meeting if the economic information received by that time showed evidence of sufficiently strong and sustained growth.” So …...
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I am going to share with you how I manage my IRA and the power of reducing your cost basis. My goal each year is a 20% return in my IRA. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don't, but I believe that all of my success is due to reducing my cost basis. To illustrate the power of reducing your cost basis here are some trades we did last year. These trades are taken from an educational portfolio we ran in a paper-trading account for a little more than a year.
We bought RIG on 5/15/2012 for $44.13, sold it on 1/18/2013 for $46 but booked a profit of $1,154.
We bought MT on 1/4/2012 for $19.24, sold it on 12/21/2012 for $15 but booked a profit of $454.
We bought CHK on 1/27/2012 for $21.93, sold it on 10/19/2012 for $18 b...
Stock market posts another record setting week, but the big news came after Friday’s close.
Courtesy of NASA
The stock market put on another record setting show with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) closing at a record high 15,118 and the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) closing at 1633.70, another all time closing high.
For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) gained 1%, the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) climbed 1.2%, the Nasdaq Composite (NYSEARCA:...
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Well, well, well....it is good to know that there are others in the scientific arena who believed that YMI Bioscience's data (cough - Gilead) is a better drug than Incyte's Jakafi. Now, the definitive data are still unknown, but there was enough evidence from a Phase 2 trial to take a small risk for a huge reward. So, let's forget about Apple (AAPL), and do nothing but biotechs from now until Congress passes universal health care coverage for prescriptions....and drive the prices down so that research and development is no longer feasible to conduct in the US. Even Seattle Genetics (SGEN) has been on a tear as of late...
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