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Top 7 News Features | 2012 Year in Review

12/28/2012
Andrew S. Wiecek

From ancient mummy proteins to the BGI’s ambitious mission statement, here’s a look back at some of our best news features from 2012 focused on advances in life science methods.


Never stop improving. While this motto currently serves as the tagline for a chain of retail home improvement stories, it seems equally applicable to life science methods. Every passing year, biomedical researchers are constantly revamping and revising their techniques and protocols to discover new aspects of biology and disease, and this past year was no different. From ancient mummy proteins to the BGI’s ambitious mission statement, here’s a look back at some of our best news features from 2012 focused on advances in life science methods.

Top 7 News Features | 2012 Year in Review

From ancient mummy proteins to the BGI’s ambitious mission statement, here’s a look back at some of our best news features from 2012 focused on advances in life science methods.

Storified by BioTechniques· Fri, Dec 28 2012 11:11:02

PCR

BioTechniques - How Reliable is Real-Time PCR? | PCR FeatureWhen a cell turns up the production of a gene, the first measurable effect is the increase in messenger RNA, the intermediate molecule be...

To put it simply, molecular biology relies heavily on PCR. Thetechnique is considered relatively mature, but because of the numerousvariables in the setup of each experiment, two researchers can get differentresults from similar reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR)experiments. In “How Reliable is Real-Time PCR,” Sarah C.P. Williams reports onefforts to standardize reverse transcription quantitative PCR methods to improvethe reproducibility and reliability of these experiments. Read more...

Protein Interactions

BioTechniques - Mummy Proteins Tell a Different TaleAt the age of 15, she was chosen to be sacrificed. The preparation for this had begun a year beforehand; she had been confined to a close...

While the Jurassic Parkscenario in which ancient DNA extracted from amber gives rise to modern-daydinosaurs remains unlikely, researchers are learning more about the history ofhuman evolution and ancient pathogens through ancient DNA and ancient proteomics.In “Mummy Proteins Tell a Different Tale,” Andrew S. Wiecek reports on how astudy of the proteins sampled from one South American mummy is challenging earlyEuropean explorers’ accounts of Incan sacrificial rituals. Read more...

Sequencing

BioTechniques - BGI's Big Plan | Sequencing FeatureDespite their scientific careers, Huanming Yang and Jian Wang are superstitious. Recently, when the two opened a new sequencing center in...

While the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began scalingback support for large-scale sequencing centers in order to fund translationalgenomics studies, the BGI, formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute,continued on their quest to sequence every living thing on the planet. In theend, they believe that this comprehensive approach will help understand humanbiology and disease more quickly than just focusing on any particular organisms.And they’re betting big on it. In “BGI’s Big Plan,” Rachelle Dragani reports onthe humble beginning and future ambitions of what might be the world’s largestsequencing center. Read more...   

Epigenetics

BioTechniques - How Diet Affects Genes: From Honeybees to Humans | Epigenetics FeatureIn 2006, an international team of scientists published the complete genome sequence of the honeybee, revealing striking insights into the...

For bees, what’s the difference between the larvae destined tobe queen and those destined to be workers? Well, it’s not encoded in thegenome. Actually, it’s what they’re fed. Larvae destined to be queen bees feaston royal jelly, which, it turns out, affects DNA methylation patterns and, as aresult, causes these larvae to develop functional ovaries. In “How Diet AffectsGenes: From Honeybees to Humans,” Janelle Weaver reports on the how thewidespread possibility of similar situations in nature remains unclear becausethe ability to detect these methylation patterns and other epigeneticmodification remains unsettled territory. Read more...

Cell Analysis

BioTechniques - Will the Real Cancer Cell Please Stand Up?The best medicine comes from treating the right patient with the right therapy at the right time. And while that seemingly simple prescri...

Cancer cell lines have been heralded as essential tools tostudy cancer cell biology and to test potential drugs. But how accurately dothese cells model what’s actually happening in a patient’s body? In “Will theReal Cancer Cell Please Stand Up?” Margaret A. Woodbury reports on how new cellanalysis techniques are raising some concerns for some researchers about theseestablished models. Readmore…

Microscopy

BioTechniques - Electron Microscopy: the Future of Sequencing?David Bell was game to give it a try. About six years ago, William Glover, president of ZS Genetics, a DNA sequencing company based in No...
Readlength is a primary reason for the development of third-generation sequencingtechnologies and an area in which next-generation sequencing techniques hascome up short. The discussion of future sequencing methods usually includessingle-molecule techniques, semiconductors, and nanopores. In “ElectronMicroscopy: The Future of Sequencing?” Lauren Ware reports on one promisingpossibility that hasn’t received much attention: electron microscopy. Read more...  

Translational Research

BioTechniques - Is the NIH's New Translational Center a Misguided Treasure Hunt? | Translational Research FeatureThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a nickname for the process of translating basic research into a viable product: the "Valley o...

In 2011, NIH director Francis Collins announced that thefederal agency that has historically focused on funding basic research wouldtry its hand at translational research. Needless to say, he ruffled quite a fewfeathers both in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry. In “Is the NIH’s New Translational Center a MisguidedTreasure Hunt?” David Levine reports on the challenges that face the newinitiative and its potential to change public health. Read more...      

Keywords:  2012 year in review