DNA-based digital data storage: how nature holds the key to the data storage problem

Digital data production is growing exponentially, but current storage technologies are not keeping up with demand. Some researchers are advocating for DNA-based data storage as an alternative. DNA can hold 9Tb per mm3 after considering practical system overheads, resulting in a storage density 115,000 times higher than current archival storage methods can provide. Additionally, DNA-based storage requires little to no maintenance and fewer resources than present storage technology, and it is unlikely to ever become obsolete. The DNA storage pipeline of going from bits to DNA bases and vice versa consists of the following steps: writing (encoding and DNA synthesis), storage, retrieval and reading (DNA sequencing and decoding). DNA synthesis is currently the major bottleneck for commercialising the technology due to its high costs and time consumption. This article discusses the principles of DNA-based storage, the current commercial position of DNA-mediated archival storage and technological improvements necessary for further upscaling.

Cancer treatment – thinking beyond CAR T-cell therapy

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy which has gained a lot of attention in recent years. This therapy relies on a chimeric T-cell receptor first introduced in 1987. This discovery led to a development of the first generation CARs by an Israeli immunologist Zelig Eshhar in 1993. Since then, genetically engineered T-cells possessing this chimeric receptor have been used to develop an effective, targeted treatment for various types of cancer. This extensive research resulted in the first FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy for B-cell lymphomas in 2017. However, this treatment is mostly effective for hematological cancers while solid tumours are particularly difficult to treat. Nevertheless, in recent years there have been many advantages in this field that aimed to modify this therapy for solid tumour treatment. Such methods involve either the combination of CAR T-cell therapy with other cancer immunotherapies, or the use of other types of immune cells, such as natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages. This review article first outlines the principle of CAR T-cell therapy and then discusses new developments in this field, with a particular focus on solid tumours.

How has industrialisation and animal domestication impacted the human gut microbiome

The gut microbiome consists of all microorganisms that are present in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The gut microbiota, more specifically, consists of all bacteria, both commensal and pathogenic that reside in the GI tract. It has gained increasing popularity due to its newly discovered important role in metabolism and immune protection against pathogens.

Implementing stem cell-based approaches to understand hearing biology and developing novel therapeutics

The hearing therapeutics pipeline is severely lacking human-specific cell-based models to optimise and validate gene therapies and conventional drugs. Stem cell approaches offer the possibility to construct specialised 2D and 3D models of the inner ear, including hair cells and otic neurons, which are the main targets in treating hearing deficits. They would help understand gene and cell functions, model diseases, and evaluate novel therapeutic strategies. This review focuses on how stem cell technologies could be used in these fields to improve hearing research.

Structure and dynamics of the CGRP receptor in apo and peptide-bound forms, and differential modulation of CGRP pathways by migraine therapeutics

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which mediate the transduction of various extracellular signals to the cell’s interior, belong to one of the largest protein superfamilies in the mammalian genome. As many of these receptors are involved in various physiological processes, they are often targeted in development of therapeutic drugs (Odoemelam et al., 2020). Namely, the calcitonin-gene related peptide receptor has been implicated in migraine pathology and therefore is a target in migraine prophylaxis. Recently, monoclonal antibodies targeting this receptor (anti-CGRP mAbs) have been shown to be effective for this purpose (Bhakta et al., 2021). Nevertheless, more tests examining their efficacy and safety are needed. Firstly, this review article summarises the structure and function of GPCRs, outlining structural characterisation and mode of activation of CGRPRs. Then, it compares the differences in mechanisms of action, efficacy, and safety of different therapeutic drugs for migraine treatment, including anti-CGRP mAbs.

Personality tests

Personality is the core of an individual. It is like the engine of a car, empowering individuals to reach their destination. It is useful to know how to troubleshoot a car engine when people find themselves stuck in the middle of the desert. An individual who understands their personality is the same thing. Knowing how their mind works, the person will appreciate themselves more and even respect how others manage to keep their engines running smoothly.

CRISPR/Cas-mediated DNA base-editing in gene therapy targeting β-hemoglobinopathies

CRISPR-Cas-mediated DNA base-editing is a step up from the famous CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing platform. Base-editing is capable of modifying haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). This approach is paramount when silencing the genetic regulators such as BCL11A which affects the expression of β- and γ-globin genes in β-hemoglobinopathies – sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia. High performance rates of the base-editors instill hope in everyday use of these techniques in the clinical setting.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and nicotine addiction

Nicotine is an addictive chemical compound and the main psychoactive ingredient in tobacco. It acts on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the mesolimbic reward pathway of the brain. Neurones of this pathway release dopamine, which helps establish nicotine addiction over time. Nicotine also activates the habenulo-interpeduncular pathway, which suppresses the centres responsible for withdrawal symptom development. Different types of nAChRs, which vary in their sensitivity to nicotine and ability to desensitise, are present in these pathways. This allows nAChRs to adapt to prolonged nicotine exposure in a way that discourages quitting. Various pharmaceutical, biotechnological and legislative efforts are being made to overcome the addiction associated adaptations in the brain.