Hot News

How best to provide information and promote research?

posted Feb 25, 2021, 7:31 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Feb 25, 2021, 7:36 AM ]

  Here's one example post from our facebook page...  We need to find a way to add that 'spoonful of sugar' to help the 'medicine go down' - to get people to think about the various items we reveal and discuss. Risks of cancer from hair dyeing, from sun-bathing, from drinking... well, who wants to hear that? 
standard molecular biology reagents are culprits too:
gotta find that spoonful of sugar!

but the second item is one of the rare examples that occur every once in a while!
Long non-coding RNA to help battle depression! Maybe could be delivered like RNA vaccines??
Hoping we might get some more ideas from today's General Assembly meeting? ;)

genomic integrity world

posted Feb 8, 2021, 3:59 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Feb 8, 2021, 4:06 AM ]

 Thank goodness for all the great molecular activities going on in our cells, we may be able to beat Corona...
indeed the mRNA vaccines especially owe their existence to lots of basic research on gene expression and immunology!  Here is a good editorial from one key contributer, Katalin Kariko, before the pandemic!  Modified nucleosides so the mRNAs delivered as therapies are no longer immunogenic, also to purify the transcription reactions to avoid dsRNAs that might stimulate interferon activity, and finally develop the nanoparticles for efficient delivery were really key to our current next generation vaccines.
Here's an article about her, too, for your further information!

let's talk about it all more during the annual general assembly meeting!
The administrative details for us as a Swiss Association shouldn't take too long.
What do you say? Maybe you will be inspired to get more involved?

AGiR! General Assembly
25Feb2021 19h30 CET.

Use the Contact Us link in the menu to ask for the zoom link, please, if you did not already receive a convocation.
Looking forward!

Our climate crisis, not merely pollution, may impact Genomic integrity

posted Jan 28, 2021, 12:18 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Jan 28, 2021, 12:19 AM ]

While headlines and hopes still point to exposure to pollution as a strong driver of mutational hits and eventual health problems, the link between DNA repair and RNA folding, combined with changing temperatures, makes it seem likely that our genomic integrity would suffer more as temperatures climb. 
The idea that RNA can act as a thermosensor was already supported by 2010, in work around regulation of cold shock protein expression through alternative conformations at 10 vs. 37 degrees Celsius...
Epochs of RNA folding research provide perspective. Furthermore, could it have mainly been the RNA world which survived epochs of 'snowball' earth?

All of this is certainly something to look into in further detail, also to help people become more aware in general, and to help policy makers to make better choices.

Genomic integrity Surprises

posted Dec 28, 2020, 7:14 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Dec 28, 2020, 7:29 AM ]

There is always more to learn!

  The same gene whose ATPase activity is responsible for silencing endogenous retroviruses in embryonic stem cells, SMARCAD1, with roles in chromatin structural remodelling and DNA repair, also causes some rare families to be born without fingerprints!  
How and why will tell reveal more of the importance of genomic integrity, most likely...

What will we learn in the year to come, after our wild pandemic year?  

At least we finally learned that our JOGL colleagues  got into the finals for the XPRIZE, even though our Corona Detective's direct results were as good as we suspected, with no false positives or cross-reactivity with other pathogens in unknown samples, but simply not sensitive enough.  
(We finally got back the 'decoded' unknown set run for the semi-finals, but still have not had confirmation as to whether the reactions ran by our colleagues in Sri Lanka on concentrated samples were also considered when they evaluated our results, unfortunately.) 

Nonetheless, we are certainly still very glad to be part of this big open science collaboration, with some of our quencher probes on their way to Berkeley from Paris already, to help for their finals' efforts.  Fingers crossed.  

Getting more easy diagnostic tests out, even as vaccinations are beginning, is still necessary, especially in resource-strapped settings...

Take care.  

Patience is a Virtue

posted Dec 8, 2020, 1:25 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Dec 8, 2020, 1:25 AM ]

Yes, we can't believe it either, but there is still no decoding information on our semi-final results.
We've been told to expect the information when the finalists are announced, the 22nd of December.

Of course, we have some cause to believe our direct results (just addition of one chem to inactivated sample and heat, before the reactions) were pretty good... 

as we await also the slowing of the pandemic tides around the world, we are sorry that 1.5 million people have already been taken by it, just as vaccine hopes are coming to fruition.  
Testing won't be finished of course, but the urgency of 3 months ago feels dissipated somewhat...

Take care.

vive colombie

posted Oct 1, 2020, 10:49 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Oct 1, 2020, 10:49 AM ]

amazing encounters - coincidencia y investigation participative for change

ENTANGLEMENTS evidenced :)

XPRIZE Semi-finals for Corona Detective

posted Sep 15, 2020, 5:49 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Dec 8, 2020, 1:29 AM ]

 More exciting times in the midst of the pandemic keep coming...  Now we are getting ready for the semi-finals of the XPRIZE!  For more info, here is a Medium post from colleagues from JOGL.  Seems likely that participating in this will provide a stringent test for the 'no cold chain dependence' aspect of the method - with colleagues from Sri Lanka set to test in parallel with the team in Paris.  Fingers crossed that we make it to the Finalist stage, when 20 teams' methods will be used for large-scale clinical validation!

 In the meantime, take care!

Multiplex for #CoronaDetective

posted Jul 31, 2020, 10:38 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Aug 2, 2020, 12:34 PM ]

As the pandemic continues, we are happy to know that the molecular detection of SARS CoV-2 has achieved a special milestone, so-called 'multiplex detection' of two different targets at once, one an internal control to show the extraction and reaction were both good, and the other for detecting the virus causing Covid-19.  
This is a big deal, because it means one 8-tube strip can analyse 5 different samples, not just 2. 
The team is gearing up to send detectors off to colleagues (Guy in Paris) and test more target combinations (two different internal controls and another viral one, Rachel -me- in Lausanne).
Ultimately the best combination of control and viral target reaction components will be freeze-dried in Paris and sent to colleagues (in many sites, from Chile to Cameroon and Germany to Ghana) for validation.
The 96-well format can also be tested, for scaling up capacity, particularly if labs have BSL2/3 and plate readers!
Fingers crossed, our efforts, begun as a project in the OpenCovid-19 Initiative, will be of help far and wide.

In the meantime, take care! 

It's easy to remember the 3 Ws.  
Wash hands before touching your face! 
Wear masks!
Watch your physical distances (at least 2m or 6ft - and if not, must have masks)!

Feeling sidetracked by Corona?

posted May 28, 2020, 12:10 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated May 28, 2020, 12:35 AM ]

 Well, we have been, too...

Still, AGiR! is very glad to be able to contribute, especially with some sequence gazing and testing to develop simpler molecular assays!  We've joined in for amazing collaborative research with colleagues from around the world, in particular working towards the #CoronaDetective - analogous to the GMO Detective, of course!

(However, I have also been glad to have been able to talk about participatory research recently!  
& We still hope the cheek cell chip in the context of the OpenFlexure scope will come together, eventually...)

Hoping in the end this pandemic is not too painful for us all, and we somehow come out of it better.  Time to make the change!

You can contribute, too!  
All kinds of needs, not just biology, require support...

Hoping to see you in the Hackuarium lab (even virtually), a slack, some zoom (Qi Gong!) or once again out and about, in the not too distant future.

Take care!

Moving forward, virtually and really!

posted Apr 27, 2020, 1:47 AM by Rachel Aronoff   [ updated Apr 27, 2020, 1:48 AM ]

The general assembly meeting went well last week, with 9 different computers on the zoom connection, including two from outside the country (one with two founding members, who were 'attending' their first such meeting!), and unanimous votes to help us move forward as an association to make more international impact.  
Probably we will not only try to become an association of 'public utility' this year, but organise a bigger and better chocolate sale!  =) 
In addition, plans for more work to open-source the DNA damage assays and develop the 'cheek cell chip' for both micronuclei and comets and more

Thank you to all the participants (and also to those who took the time to excuse themselves for not being able to come!)!

In other news, AGiR! is very happy to be able to try to make a difference in this strange time, working towards a SARS CoV-2 detection strategy, the #CoronaDetective (think doorknobs though, and general environmental monitoring, not clinical diagnostics!).  It's an exciting international collaboration, but as seemingly usual, chance and the OpenCovid-19 Initiative helped bring everything together...  
There are many 'needs' for all sorts of projects there, if you are looking for something to do in these strange times.

Take care!

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