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Posts tagged ‘The Francis Crick Institute’

Outfoxing the flu

With this year’s flu season over, most of us can breathe a sigh of relief. But taming a virus as notorious and unpredictable as influenza requires year-round research efforts. Carmen Chai looks back at how far we’ve come since the deadly 1918 outbreak of Spanish Flu, and what lies ahead.

Virus particles of the H3N2 subtype of influenza, known as the Hong Kong Flu virus.
Image credit: CDC/Science Photo Library

It’s been labelled as one of the greatest pandemics in history. 100 years ago, the 1918 influenza virus, more commonly known as the Spanish Flu, brought the international medical community to its knees. Read more

Secrets of our first seven days

What exactly is gene editing? Why is it important in medical research? Last year, developmental biologist Dr Kathy Niakan got the first ever licence to carry out gene editing in very early human embryos using a new technique called CRISPR-Cas9. She explains all.

Tell us about your research and what you’re trying to find out?

Our lab, at The Francis Crick Institute in London, is really interested in understanding how human embryos develop during the first seven days of development.

We all start off as a fertilised egg, which then divides to form two cells, then four cells, eight cells and so on until it forms a structure called a blastocyst at around day six. At some point around the eight cell stage we think that some of these cells are being set aside. These few cells divide to produce about 20 clumps of cells which go on to become the embryo, while the vast majority of the other cells will be set aside to form the placenta and yolk sac.

What fascinates us is, how does this happen? From this group of cells which all had an equal chance of becoming either an embryo or placenta and yolk sac, how are these cells set aside? They’ve all inherited the same DNA blueprint, it’s just that they are reading that DNA differently. So we want to know what is the key gene that ‘flips the switch’ and decides their fate?

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MRC tuberculosis timeline

For World TB Day 2017 Sarah Harrop looks back at 104 years of MRC-funded tuberculosis (TB) research, a history that unites scientists, industry, policy-makers and patients with a shared goal of ending TB.

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