New class of enzymes could lead to bespoke diets, therapeutics

Professor Emily Balskus and her team have identified an entirely new class of enzymes that degrade chemicals essential for neurological health, but also help digest foods like nuts, berries, and tea, releasing nutrients that may impact human health.

Caitlin McDermott-Murphy
Feb. 18, 2020 | harvard

~6 mins

Tags: science-technology bacteria basic-research berries bespoke-diets caitlin-mcdermott-murphy cancer chemistry chemistry-and-chemical-biology chocolate coffee diet dopamine emily-balskus enzymes gut l-dopa microbes microbiology microbiome nutrition nuts parkinsons-disease science vayu-maini-rekdal

Creating a reliable clock to track changes in microbiome

The microbiome is a treasure trove of information about human health and disease, but getting it to reveal its secrets is challenging, especially when attempting to study it in living subjects. A new genetic “repressilator” lets scientists noninvasively study its dynamics, acting like a clock that tracks how bacterial growth changes over time with single-cell precision.

Lindsay Brownell
Oct. 11, 2019 | harvard

~9 mins

Tags: science-technology bacterial-growth harvard-medical-school microbiome repressilator wyss-institute

Probiotic hydrogels heal gut wounds other bandages can’t reach

Harvard researchers have developed hydrogels that can be produced from bacterial cultures and applied to intestinal surfaces for faster wound healing.

Benjamin Boettner
Aug. 12, 2019 | harvard

~8 mins

Tags: health-medicine bacterial-hydrogels curli-nanofibers e-coli gut harvard-john-a-paulson-school-of-engineering-and-applied-sciences mucoadhesive-nanofibers seas wyss-institute-for-biologically-inspired-engineering-at-harvard-university

Harvard study suggests asteroids might play key role in spreading life

Scientists at the Institute for Theory and Computation have made a comprehensive calculation suggesting that panspermia could happen, and have found that as many as 10 trillion asteroid-sized objects might exist that carry life.

Peter Reuell
July 8, 2019 | harvard

~5 mins

Tags: science-technology abraham-loeb asteroid faculty-of-arts-and-sciences fas galactic-panspermia ginsburg harvard idan-ginsburg life lingam loeb manasvi-lingam microbes nanobacteria panspermia

Performance-enhancing bacteria found in the human microbiome

A single microbe accumulating in the microbiome of elite athletes can enhance exercise performance in mice, paving the way to highly validated performance-enhancing probiotics.

Benjamin Boettner
June 24, 2019 | harvard

~9 mins

Tags: health-medicine aleksandar-kostic athletes boston-marathon george-church harvard-medical-school jacob-luber jonathan-scheiman joslin-diabetes-center-in-boston lactate performance-enhancing-bacteria probiotics propionate theodore-chavkin v-atypica veillonella wyss-institute-for-biologically-inspired-engineering

Harvard scientist finds microbial contaminants in e-cigs

New research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has examined 75 popular e-cigarette brands and found that 27 percent contained traces of bacterial and fungal toxins associated with myriad health problems.

Chris Sweeney
April 25, 2019 | harvard

~4 mins

Tags: health-medicine david-christiani e-cigarettes electronic-cigarettes environmental-health-perspectives fungi gluten gram-negative-bacteria joseph-allen mi-sun-lee microbial-contaminants

Harvard study looks at how microbes produce cancer fighting compound

Emily Balskus and a team of researchers untangled how soil bacteria are able to manufacture streptozotocin, an antibiotic and anti-cancer compound.

Peter Reuell
Feb. 7, 2019 | harvard

~4 mins

Tags: science-technology bacteria balskus basic-research biology cancer chemistry chemotherapy emily-balskus enzyme faculty-of-arts-and-sciences fas harvard nature nitrosamine peter-reuell reuell soil soil-bacteria streptozotocin

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