SciTech Briefs

Hemoglobin to come from cows

Researchers from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and HemoBioTech, Inc., have come up with a hemoglobin product, HemoBioTech, to make blood substitutes in humans.
Hemoglobin is a protein produced by red blood cells. It delivers oxygen to the body from the lungs.

HemoBioTech comes from antelope, bison, and cattle. Unlike blood cells in humans, this product is free of HIV and hepatitis, although patients run the risk of contracting mad cow disease.

HemoBioTech may serve as an alternative to current stocks of donated blood. Researchers plan on performing clinical trials with HemoBioTech in 2008.

Source: Scientific American

Vault keeps seeds safe

In February, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an international organization devoted to maintaining crop diversity, will store various types of seeds in a vault at 0°F.

The purpose of this vault is to protect crop seeds from disasters, such as asteroids and climate change. The vault is capable of storing 4.5 million seed samples.

According to GCDT Executive Director Cary Fowler, “At these temperatures, seeds for important crops like wheat, barley, and peas can last for up to 1000 years.”

Source: BBC News

Genome sequencing service is available

By analyzing genetic differences among individuals, biopharmaceutical company Decode Genetics is providing a new service to customers — genome sequencing.

Knowledge of a person’s genome allows researchers to determine a person’s likelihood of contracting certain diseases. Researchers can also study genetic patterns that lead to a person’s skin and eye color.

The company sequences a person’s genome by focusing on single nucleotide polymorphisms, or areas of the genome in which individuals are likely to differ. Altogether, the company studies about one million sites along a person’s genome.

The service costs $985 per person.

Source: The New York Times

Star explodes multiple times

When a star explodes, scientists call it a supernova, and recent research suggests that a single star may be capable of creating multiple supernovas.

In 2006, scientists found a supernova called SN 2006gy that appeared much brighter than a usual supernova. To explain this finding, astrophysics professor Stan Woosley of the University of California, Santa Cruz and his colleagues claim that the star may have exploded multiple times.

According to this theory, the star’s second explosion created a shell around the star that collided with another shell, causing a very bright explosion.

Woosley believes that, to have exploded multiple times, the star must have been between 90 and 130 times as massive as the Sun. The star’s temperature becomes so high that its core decreases in size and collapses. The star then expands and explodes.

Source: Science Daily