Scientists at the University of Copenhagen, led by the Spanish Professor Guillermo Montoya, are investigating the molecular features of different molecular scissors of the CRISPR-Cas system to shed light on the so-called ‘Swiss-army knives’ of genome editing. Montoya’s research group has visualized the atomic structures of the Cpf1 and Cas9 proteins to analyse each of their properties and peculiarities that make them ideal for different applications in gene modification.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), led by the Spanish researcher Guillermo Montoya, have discovered how Cpf1, a new molecular scissors unzip and cleave DNA. This member of the CRISPR-Cas family displays a high accuracy, capable of acting like a GPS in order to identify its destination within the intricate map of the genome. The high precision of Cpf1 will improve the use of this type of technology in repairing genetic damage and in other medical and biotechnological applications.
DNA does not always adopt the form of the double helix which is associated with the genetic code; it can also form intricate folds and act as an enzyme: a deoxyribozyme. A researcher from Spain and other scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Germany) have solved the first three-dimensional structure of this biomolecule that has proved much more flexible than previously thought.
The German research vessel Polarstern covers thousands of kilometres between the northern and southern hemispheres in search of samples of biological material. This ship, however, has some other on board passengers: organisms that can adapt to extreme water temperatures and could potentially invade the new waters where this ice breaker takes them. Upon analysing the DNA present in this vessel's ballast water, a team of scientists showed the first molecular evidence of the persistence of DNA belonging to a tiny sea snail which is capable of tolerating adverse conditions.
Sperm in the first fraction of ejaculate are more numerous, move more and present better quality DNA than those lagging behind. This is the conclusion of a study led by the Ginemed fertility clinic, which confirms that while the objective of the first fraction is to fertilise the egg, the second phase is so that no sperm from any other male has a chance to fertilise it.
Man’s relationship with wolves has always been a complicated one. One of the most common problems is monitoring the packs. Recently, groups of ecologists suggested the need to use more technical and objective criteria. Spanish scientists have designed a new method for monitoring the wolf population more precisely.
Leishmaniosis is a parasitic disease mostly afflicting dogs, but in impoverished countries it affects over 12 million humans, of whom 70,000 lose their lives every year. Researchers from the LeishmanCeres Group at the University of Extremadura have developed a new method of detecting the illness in animals, based on a single hair sample and only one analysis, which saves cost, time and healthcare personnel.