Surprise discovery as clam found to be producing complex antibiotic

A clam has been found to be synthesising erythromycin, making it the first known animal to make such a complex antibiotic. Erythromycin had been thought to be made by only actinobacteria. Now, it seems that the Asiatic hard clam Meretrix petechialis can make it to defend itself from infection in its muddy marine habitat. The […]

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Strike continues as University of California reaches partial agreement with union

More than two weeks after nearly 50,000 academics went on strike at the University of California (UC) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory over pay and conditions, UC has reached a tentative agreement with academic researchers and postdocs. The strike continues, however, as union sections representing academic student employees and student researchers negotiate with the university. […]

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Mauna Loa volcano eruption disrupts critical climate data collection

The eruption of the world’s largest active volcano earlier this week, Mauna Loa on Hawaii’s Big Island, has disrupted monitoring of global carbon dioxide levels. The Mauna Loa observatory has tracked rising levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere for more than six decades without interruption. The observatory’s manager, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography […]

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Coca plants’ production pathway for cocaine finally unravelled

The pathway used by coca plants to produce the tropane alkaloid cocaine has remained a mystery since it was first isolated in 1855. Now, two groups have reported the missing steps in its biosynthesis. Tropane alkaloids are secondary metabolites produced in multiple species of plants. Cocaine from Erythroxylum coca and nicotine from multiple species in […]

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New lease of life for waste PVC chlorinating aromatics

Waste PVC can be recycled into an easy-to-use chlorinating reagent, with electrolysis releasing chlorine from the polymer chain in a controlled manner. This process was then used to chlorinate aromatic compounds, transformations that are frequently used in the production of drugs. PVC (poly(vinyl chloride)) is an extremely versatile plastic with applications ranging from construction to […]

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On the road to recovery?

Two weeks ago, I wrote a short piece explaining why I hadn’t posted my usual weekly blog post the day before and warning that I might not have recovered enough to write one for the following Wednesday, and so it came to pass. Much too late, I noticed through the general fog of a heavy […]

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European Space Agency unveils plans to get troubled rover to Mars

The European Space Agency (Esa) has announced that its record-breaking €16.9 billion (£14.6 billion) budget will cover building the lander that will get the Rosalind Franklin rover to the surface of Mars. The ExoMars rover was due to launch aboard a Russian rocket in September to search for signs of life on Mars, but it […]

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Radium chelator researchers working to improve targeted cancer therapies

A collaborative effort is underway at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, US, to explore the chemistry of radium and use those discoveries to advance cancer treatments. The aim is to couple the cytotoxicity of α-particles with the tumour specificity of biological targeting vectors to selectively destroy cancer cells. Medicinal chemist Nikki Thiele leads […]

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At least 38 killed in industrial fire in China

A fire on 22 November at a textiles and industrial goods wholesaler’s plant in Anyang, China, has killed 38 people and injured two others. According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the fire appears to have started when sparks from welding work ignited cotton fabric stored in the building. ‘Related suspects’ have been taken into […]

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