Biofilms: the ultimate survival mechanism

By Debosree Pal, JNCASR, India

Communication and decision making often form the keys to survival at the cellular level. Intracellular and intercellular communications have been well established through signaling pathways in multicellular organisms. The often undervalued unicellular denizens of the living world utilize such strategies in rather intelligent fashion to accomplish survival mechanisms in extreme conditions.

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Epigenetic tags for personalized diagnoses

By Sarah Kearns, University of Michigan, USA

There’s more to our genetics than what’s within our DNA code. Though the code itself is the basis for life, on its surface there are chemical alterations that change how it’s expressed. Because DNA’s structure is that of a helix, modifications either make it coil up or unwind where the unwound form allows for transcription. Epigenetics is the concept of chemical marks on DNA, or associated proteins that control gene activity, that act independently of the genetic code itself.

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Epigenetics: past and present

By David Hornby, University of Sheffield

Forty years ago this month I sat in my first lecture, an intensive introduction to ‘University Chemistry’. This was partially tempered with an Integrated Biology course on Darwinian evolution. Maybe this ‘christening by fire’ gave me the strong view that all biochemists should be equally grounded in both of these subjects. I also remember being told at school that Darwin’s ideas were all about chance and selection, while Lamarck’s theory centred on inter-generational adaptation. Who hasn’t been told about Lamarck’s giraffes!

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Fibrosis: an overlooked companion of inflammation

By Conor Sugden, University of Liverpool

Inflammatory mechanisms and processes contribute to the pathogenesis of a number of conditions – one of which is fibrosis. Inflammation and fibrosis are intrinsically linked, and much about their complex relationship is still unknown. Whereas a healthy inflammatory response is necessary for successful wound healing, a prolonged response often precedes tissue fibrosis.

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