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Engineered yeast may expand possible biofuel sources, researchers say

Engineered yeast may expand possible biofuel sources, researchers say

Science
June 25 (UPI) -- Researchers at MIT said Friday that they have developed a way to expand potential sources of biofuels to include straw and woody plants that, historically, proved challenging to effectively process. Their approach involves a technique designed to improve yeast cells' tolerance to a wide range of alcohols, they said. In large quantities, alcohols are toxic to yeast, the microbes most commonly used to produce biofuels such as ethanol. However, by using specific compounds that strengthen the membrane of the yeast, the microbes were able to survive much longer in high concentrations of ethanol, the researchers said. Using this approach, they were able to improve the traditional fuel ethanol yield of a high-performing strain of yeast by about 80%, they said. Their findings we...
Researchers close in on ‘universal’ flu vaccine as COVID-19 fight takes priority

Researchers close in on ‘universal’ flu vaccine as COVID-19 fight takes priority

Health
Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Researchers believe they are one step closer to a "universal" flu vaccine, even as concerns over the seasonal virus move to the back burner during the COVID-19 pandemic. T cells found in the lungs may hold the key to long-lasting immunity against influenza A, the more common and often more severe form of the virus, according to the researchers behind a study published Friday by Science Immunology. Advertisement These cells, which the researchers call resident helper T cells, help the body initiate antiviral responses against new influenza strains even after experience with only one type of the virus, the researchers said. This type of "generalized" immune response, against all virus strains, is not possible with the currently available yearly vaccine formulations, they sai...
Chemotherapy drug may be effective against COVID-19, researchers say

Chemotherapy drug may be effective against COVID-19, researchers say

Health
Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The chemotherapy drug pralatrexate, originally developed to treat lymphoma, may be effective in patients with COVID-19, according to a study published Thursday by the journal PLOS Computational Biology. That's based on the results generated by a new computational drug screening approach created by researchers in China and lab experiments conducted by their colleagues at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology in Shenzhen, China, the researchers said. Advertisement "From our data, pralatrexate is able to potently inhibit [COVID-19] replication [better] ... than remdesivir," study co-author Yanjie Wei, executive director of the Center for High Performance Computing at the Shenzhen Institutes, told UPI. Since the start of the global pandemic earlier this year, researc...
Researchers use DNA to track original settlers of Caribbean islands

Researchers use DNA to track original settlers of Caribbean islands

Science
Dec. 24 (UPI) -- The origins of the Caribbean's first islanders can be traced to two distinct groups, thousands of years apart, suggesting the archipelago was settled by highly mobile people, with distant relatives often living on different islands, a study published Thursday by Nature found. The islands' first inhabitants, a group of stone tool-users, boated to Cuba about 6,000 years ago, gradually expanding eastward to other islands during the region's Archaic Age, the researchers said. Advertisement Where they came from remains unclear, as their genetics do not match any particular Indigenous group, according to the researchers. However, similar artifacts found in Belize and Cuba may suggest a Central American origin, study co-author William Keegan said in a press release. Following ...

Google AI researcher’s exit sparks ethics, bias concerns

Technology
Artificial intelligence scholar Timnit Gebru helped improve Google’s public image as a company that elevates Black computer scientists and questions harmful uses of AI technologyBy MATT O'BRIEN AP Technology WriterDecember 4, 2020, 9:55 PM• 4 min readProminent artificial intelligence scholar Timnit Gebru helped improve Google's public image as a company that elevates Black computer scientists and questions harmful uses of AI technology.But internally, Gebru, a leader in the field of AI ethics, was not shy about voicing doubts about those commitments — until she was pushed out of the company this week in a dispute over a research paper examining the societal dangers of an emerging branch of AI.Gebru announced on Twitter she was fired. Google told employees she resigned. More than 1,200 Goog...