Insects are being farmed as a source of food for both humans as well as animals. Now it seems the waste they excrete, their feces (frass) and their outgrown exoskeletons (exuviae), are now valuable to farmers as a way of rejuvenating soil. Both frass and exuviae are rich in polymers and nutrients needed to promote plant growth. The waste it seems stimulates microbe growth which can be an asset in sustainable farming.
This past month, 175 nations agreed to come up with a global treaty to deal with plastic pollution. The aim of the treaty is to improve recycling, curb plastic production and eliminate single use plastic products. Hopefully the details of the treaty will be finished by 2024. Only 9% of plastic is now recycled with the bulk going to landfills. At present plastics are manufactured from fossil fuels which is responsible for the release of about 4.5% of green house gases. The proposal was put together through the efforts of Peru and Rwanda. Rwanda has led the way with strict laws banning import, production, and use of plastic bags and packaging. The countries involved are looking to the Paris Accord to establish a time frame in which all countries must comply. This would be a major step in addressing microplastics, the breakdown of plastic, which is now filling our oceans....Read More
Mosquitoes are not just a summer annoyance; they are responsible for 700,000 deaths per year from deadly diseases they carry. What if mosquitos could not see their human hosts? Mosquitos are attracted to dark colors and humans register as dark regardless of what color clothing they are wearing. Researchers focused on a particular species called Aedes aegypi that use many senses including sight when they target a victim. By using CRISPER, researchers were able to target the part of their DNA that is drawn to dark. Elimination of 2 specific proteins which are light-sensing receptors in the eyes, the mosquitos flew aimlessly even in the presence of a dark test circle which previously they were drawn to. The study was conducted at the University of California, Santa Barbara by Craig Montell a neurobiologist. This would mean control of these pests in an eco-friendly manner. These mutated mosquitos have not yet been released into the public, but can you imagine being invisible to mosquitos.
Red blood cells are round, flexible and carry oxygen throughout our bodies. Children and adults with Sickle cell disease have red blood cells in the shape of a crescent moon. These cells become sticky and block blood flow which can in turn cause infection and organ damage. This is caused by a defect in the gene that tells the body to make the iron rich compound in red blood cells (hemoglobin). The disease affects mostly African Americans and Latino families. Complications can range from anemia to infections to vision problems. In the past the treatment involved hydroxyurea (cancer drug) with bad side effects or bone marrow transplants. The FDA has just approved 2 drugs Oxbryta and Adakveo. These drugs can prevent hemoglobin in RBC from sticking together and from forming crescent shapes. In a study of 274 participants ages 12 to 65 there was a 72 to 89% decrease in anemia caused by Sickle Cell Disease. What is interesting about having the disease is that those individuals are less susceptible to being infected with malaria. Their molecular machinery for cleaning dead cells also prevents the malarial parasite from infecting them.