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Laughing Gas May Have Helped Warm Early Earth and Given Breath to Life

More than an eon ago, the sun shone dimmer than it does today, but the Earth stayed warm due to a strong greenhouse gas effect, geoscience theory holds. Astronomer Carl Sagan coined this “the Faint Young Sun Paradox,” and for decades, researchers have searched for the right balance of atmospheric gases that could have kept early Earth cozy.

Genomic Study of 412 Anthrax Strains Provides New Virulence Clues

By analyzing genomic sequences from more than 400 strains of the bacterium that causes anthrax, researchers have provided the first evidence that the severity – technically known as virulence – of specific strains may be related to the number of copies of certain plasmids they carry. Plasmids are genetic structures of the cell that can reproduce independently, and are responsible for producing the anthrax toxin and other virulence factors.

New tools used to identify childhood cancer genes

Using a new computational strategy, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified 29 genetic changes that can contribute to rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. The group used Bayesian analysis, a method for statistical inference, in conjunction with screening using CRISPR/Cas9, the much-heralded gene-editing tool, to confirm the statistical predictions.

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