UMBC Biology Council of Majors

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Frozen rabbit kidneys could solve organ shortage for transplants

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on April 17, 2016 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Is this the coolest solution to our donor-organ shortage? Researchers have discovered a way of freezing embryonic animal kidneys so that they can later be warmed up and grown into full-size organs without the risk of rejection by their recipient.


The results suggest we may one day be able to create a long-term biobank of animal kidneys that provides an unlimited source of organs for transplanting in people. There are three major hurdles for human organ transplantation: the ...

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Functional lab-grown vocal cord tissue

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on November 24, 2015 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been able to grow a functional vocal cord tissue in the laboratory. This is a very exciting step forward that may help people who have vocal cord injuries.

After isolating cells from the vocal cords of a cadaver and the larynxes of several people who do not have cancer, the cells grew to become strong connective tissue. This system resembles how we grow artificial skin in the laboratory.

The scientists then tested if the arti...

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Crayfish found to turn blood into nuerons

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on August 13, 2014 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Not too long ago, it was found that humans can in fact make new neurons within the hippocampus. However, we can only do this with specialized stem cells, while recent studies have found that crayfish can turn blood straight into neurons for use! They use these new cells to resupply their eyestalks and smell circuits which are often exposed to damage.

Crayfish accomplish this feat by utilizing a “nursery” for baby neurons called a niche at the base of the brain. B...

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Electricity-consuming bacteria

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on July 16, 2014 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Kenneth Nealson, at the University of Southern California, and his team are one of only a handful of biologists that are growing bacteria that “eat” electrons. “Electric bacteria” use electrons harvested from rocks and metals as its sole source of energy. They are turning up everywhere in the ground with some able to link their hair-like filaments that act as wires, transferring electrons between themselves and their environment. This discovery shows that very basic fo...

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Human Brain Project receives criticism

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on July 9, 2014 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The Human Brain Project has come under fire recently by over 180 neuroscientists who signed an open letter against the current direct of the project. The fear is that Europe’s largest brain research project could be highly flawed. Those neuroscientists believe that the current model will be the reason the HBP will fail.

Last year, The Human Brain Project won €1 billion to research the intricacies of the human brain. The project will span over a 10-year effort inv...

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Fossilized embryos over 500 million years old found

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on April 10, 2014 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)


The Cambrian Period is often referred to as the “Cambrian explosion” since it was a time period where most of marine invertebrates first appeared in the fossil record. This period gives scientists the best glimpses into the world of evolution when the world’s ecosystems were rapidly changing and diversified. Most of these fossils only show the organisms’ skeletal structure. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri have found fossilized embryos whic...

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Nano-paper filter removes viruses

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 31, 2014 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Researchers from the Division of Nanotechnology and Functional Materials have developed a new type of paper virus filter which uses nothing but cellulose nanofibers. The efficiency has proven to match that of the current virus filters in production. The use of cellulose is ideal since it is inexpensive, disposable, inert and non-toxic. The cellulose nanofibers have also been found to withstand sterilization via autoclaving.

"Viral contamination of biotechnological products i...

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Synthetic chromosomes could be used as cell factories

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 27, 2014 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Synthetic biologists have successfully created an entirely synthetic chromosome. Many are considering this achievement a milestone for biology. The difference between this and recent synthetic bacterial genomes created is that most of the genome of the bacteria was copied while in the yeast, it was heavily altered from its natural state. “That is the important and exciting part, says Fareen Isaacs of Yale. “They introduced some fundamental new designs.” It has the potential ...

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Electric brain stimulation can control learning speed

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 24, 2014 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience by psychologists Robert Reinhart and Geoffrey Woodman have demonstrated that it is possible to selectively manipulate our ability to learn by applying an electric current to the brain. The outcome can result in an enhancement or depression depending on the direction of the current. This bi-directionality has been observed in animal studies, but never before in humans.

The medial-frontal cortex is the part of the brain t...

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Recreating facial images from nothing but DNA

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 21, 2014 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

It is only a matter time before it will be possible to produce an image of a person’s face based only on their DNA. It has been dubbed “molecular photolifting.” Soon this technology will be able to assist the police in investigating crimes based on images reconstructed from DNA at the crime scene. There are hopes that it will also help forensic scientists reconstruct faces of people from skeletal remains. It may even be able to allow us to reconstruct extinct human-like spec...

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