Blanche River Health is implementing additional measures to protect its staff and patients. The transfer of several alternate-level-of-care (ALC) patients from our Kirkland Lake site to our Englehart site is underway, following a similar measure that was done during the first wave of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. Additionally, we are further enhancing our internal separations among inpatient zones by activating additional bed capacity on another floor of our hospital in Kirkland Lake.
“I want to thank the many residents and businesses of our community who have been supporting and following the public health measures aimed at reducing the risk of spread of this easily transmitted virus.
Our main concern is those who do not follow the COVID-19 measures and pose a greater risk to our most vulnerable residents, the elderly and others with significant health care issues, who are ending up in our hospital.
Given the ongoing rise in cases it is absolutely essential that all public health measures are followed to help avoid overwhelming our hospitals” stated President and CEO, Sean Conroy.
Alongside Dennis van Engelsdorp, associate professor at the University of Maryland (UMD) in Entomology named for the fifth year in a row for his work in honey bee and pollinator health, Yiping Qi, associate professor in Plant Science, represented the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources on the Web of Science 2020 list of Highly Cited Researchers for the first time. This list includes influential scientists based on the impact of their academic publications over the course of the year. In addition to this honor, Qi is already making waves in 2021 with a new high-profile publication in Nature Plants introducing SpRY, a newly engineered variant of the famed gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. SpRY essentially removes the barriers of what can and can’t be targeted for gene editing, making it possible for the first time to target nearly any genomic sequence in plants for potential mutation. As the preeminent innovator in the field, this discovery is the latest of Qi’s in a long string of influential tools for genome editing in plants.
“It is an honor, an encouragement, and a recognition of my contribution to the science community,” says Qi of his distinction as a 2020 Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher. “But we are not just making contributions to the academic literature. In my lab, we are constantly pushing new tools for improved gene editing out to scientists to make an impact.”
With SpRY, Qi is especially excited for the limitless possibilities it opens up for genome editing in plants and crops. “We have largely overcome the major bottleneck in plant genome editing, which is the targeting scope restrictions associated with CRISPR-Cas9. With this new toolbox, we pretty much removed this restriction, and we can target almost anywhere in the plant genome.”
The original CRISPR-Cas9 tool that kicked off the gene editing craze was tied to targeting a specific short sequence of DNA known as a PAM sequence. The short sequence is what the CRISPR systems typically use to identify where to make their molecular cuts in DNA. However, the new SpRY variant introduced by Qi can move beyond these traditional PAM sequences in ways that was never possible before.
“This unleashes the full potential of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing for plant genetics and crop improvement,” says an excited Qi. “Researchers will now be able to edit anywhere within their favorable genes, without questioning whether the sites are editable or not. The new tools make genome editing more powerful, more accessible, and more versatile so that many of the editing outcomes which were previously hard to achieve can now be all realized.”
According to Qi, this will have a major impact on translational research in the gene editing field, as well as on crop breeding as a whole. “This new CRISPR-Cas9 technology will play an important role in food security, nutrition, and safety. CRISPR tools are already widely used for introducing tailored mutations into crops for enhanced yield, nutrition, biotic and abiotic stress resistance, and more. With this new tool in the toolbox, we can speed up evolution and the agricultural revolution. I expect many plant biologists and breeders will use the toolbox in different crops. The list of potential applications of this new toolbox is endless.”
Researcher expands plant genome editing with newly engineered variant of CRISPR-Cas9 (2021, January 22)
retrieved 22 January 2021
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While most of us are now more fastidious about keeping our homes and workplaces clean, on board the International Space Station, cleanliness is imperative. Of high importance is anti-bacterial measures, since bacteria tends to build up in the constantly-recycled air inside the ISS. Every Saturday in space is “cleaning day” where surfaces are wiped down, and the astronauts vacuum and collect trash.
But there’s one spot on board the station where cleaning is a no-no. But don’t worry, its all for science!
The MatISS experiment, or the Microbial Aerosol Tethering on Innovative Surfaces in the International Space Station tests out five advanced materials and how well they can prevent illness-causing microorganisms from settling and growing in microgravity. MatISS also has provided insight into how biofilms attach to surfaces in microgravity conditions.
The experiment is sponsored by the French space agency CNES and was conceived of in 2016. Three iterations of the experiment have been used on the ISS.
The first was MatISS-1, and it had four sample holders set up in for six months in three different locations in the European Columbus laboratory module. This provided some baseline data points for researchers, as when they were returned to Earth, researchers characterized the deposits on each surface and used the control material to establish a reference for the level and type of contamination.
MatISS-2 had four identical sample holders containing three different types of materials, installed in a single location in Columbus. This study aimed to better understand how contamination spreads over time across the hydrophobic (water-repellant) and control surfaces. The upgraded Matiss-2.5 was set up to study how contamination spreads — this time spatially — across the hydrophobic surfaces using patterned samples. This experiment ran for a year and recently the samples were returned to Earth and are now undergoing analysis.
The samples are made of a diverse mix of advanced materials, such as self-assembly monolayers, green polymers, ceramic polymers and water-repellent hybrid silica. The smart materials should stop bacteria from sticking and growing over large areas, and effectively making them easier to clean and more hygienic. The experiment hopes to figure out which materials work the best.
ESA says that “understanding the effectiveness and potential use of these materials will be essential to the design of future spacecraft, especially those carrying humans father out in space.”
Long-duration human space missions will certainly need to limit biocontamination of astronaut habitats.
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