Biological Bombs at a Microbial level

Opponents have access to numerous weapons and efficient communication systems. But like soldiers in the field, they’re also susceptible to suicide bombers. Researchers have used the tools of synthetic biology to create a biological time bomb that obliterates pathogens or the so-called, “most wanted criminals in the field of epidemiology.” The biological time bomb is neither a grenade nor a nuclear weapon. It’s just simply bacteria.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a well-known and usually mild pathogen but a common cause of hospital-acquired infection in South-east Asia has been multiplying fast and often seen in the list of pathogenic bacteria. Bioengineer Chueh Loo Pohand chemical engineer Matthew Wook Changof Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, decided to make an inspired-by-nature antimicrobial project to turn P. aeruginosa’s weapon system against itself, using E. coli as the carrier.

The researchers tweaked the genes that allow P. aeruginosa to detect other members of its species and put this synthetic genetic code into E. coli’s genome. They also gave E. coli a gene for making a modified pyocin that is toxic to P. aeruginosa. By linking the pyocin gene to the sensing genes, the researchers ensured that when the E. coli detected P. aeruginosa in the vicinity, it would fill itself with large amounts of pyocin and become a biological time bomb. When Chang and Poh grew these synthetic E. coli in a dish with P. aeruginosa, the suicide bomber was able to kill 99% of the P. aeruginosa cells. Thus, killing the pathogenic bacteria with the E. coli in the exploding process.

But in the latter part, many synthetic biologists said that exposing E. coli is not “a good thing” because of the fact that the bacteria are toxic outside the gut. For Chang and Poh, a lot of synthetic procedure must be done to completely test this product in the field of medicine. Biology is indeed stretching from afar, not to mention the fascinating concept of exploding bacteria to end pathogenic inhibitions that causes diseases in a country or area that are now prone to widespread errands of infected people.

What future holds: Millenial Readers

A 16-year old boy was standing at the corner of his room staring at his bookshelves covered in blanket of light dust. Heavy hardbound books were stacked accordingly.  It has no textbooks at all, no journals, nor any encyclopedias, but literatures. He had read Greek, Roman, Anglo-American, Western European and even his own country’s literature, the Philippine Literature, for leisure. He sighed deeply, feeling the cool night breeze lingering upon his skin. He felt a sense of guilt about the fact that he has not read most of literatures around his continent. He was about to sit and face his laptop to search for Asian Literatures, when he suddenly overheard his parents talking from the kitchen.

His father was upset, not on the usual stuff that his parents worry about, like which school in senior high he’s going to, what academic track that best fit his ambitions and how much it’s going to cost. Instead, he was upset about the world his generation is turning over to him. His father sounded like this: “There will be a pandemic that will disable education-oriented people, and gain their social status, a devastating economic crisis, a horrible worldwide depression and a nuclear explosion set off in anger.” As he got out of his room and laid his back on the couch, he started to worry about the future his dad was describing. He doesn’t want to rely on his thoughts any longer so he found himself looking at some old family photos. There was a picture of his grandfather in his uniform at a war class. He was one of the 7,500 troops who fought at war. Next to it was another picture of his grandfather holding a rifle and ready to fight, the boy suddenly recalled the Korean War during the 1950’s, except the picture was tattered and old. Then he thought, it wasn’t his grandfather but his great-grandfather instead. Seeing those old pictures made him feel better, not worse. It helped him understand and considered some of the awful things his grandparents and great-grandparents had been through in their past lifetimes: Two world wars, demand crisis, martial laws, unexpected bombings and forced labor to help the country at war. But they’ve experienced better things too: The end of 2 world wars, the supply of ASEAN collaboration and the passages of the civil right laws and even the human rights and protection. He glanced over the window and into the peaceful night beyond. He believed, right at that moment that his generation will see better things too. That they will witness the time when AIDS is cured and cancer is defeated. When the Middle East will find peace, when education will no longer be a country’s flaw, when environment and economy will adapt into an ecotone behavior to build integrated global economy and the Ozone layer will be sealed again for good.

Ever since he was a toddler whenever he had a bad day, his dad would always put his arm around him and promised to him that, “Don’t worry, tomorrow will be a better day.” And he would challenge his father once, “How do you know that?” His father said, “I just do.” And right off the bat he believed him. As he listened to his dad from the kitchen that night, worrying about what the future holds for him and his generation, he wanted to put his arm around his father and repeat the promise his father always told him: “Don’t worry Dad, tomorrow will be a better day.”

Climate Change – Optimistic but Cautious

“By now, the truth should be evident to all: No amount of effort, however gargantuan, by a single nation can ever be enough to address climate change in its entirety,” addressed by the articulate and delightful President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, who intends to drum up stronger global cooperation to curb the devastating effects of climate change at the Climate Vulnerable Forum on the 21st Conference of Parties of the UN Convention Framework on Climate Change held at Paris, France on November 30, 2015.

Primitive men were solely dependent to the environment around him for his existence- food, water, and shelter.  It extends the human capacity to modify the environment favorable to their demands, but its indiscriminate use has gravely jeopardized our nature. In developing countries, where survival is often a daily struggle, people cannot afford to wait for their government to bail them out. Many are living in the grip of climate change, coping with frequent droughts, heavy flooding, intense typhoons and other extreme weather events. But, on a global scale, governments continue to be deadlocked on the issue of reducing the emission of dangerous greenhouse gases, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone and methane, which are making the earth warmer.

In the birth years of the 21st century, the formulation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into being. This Convention was the first global attempt to tackle climate change. It recognized that the climate system is a shared resource of different time zones whose stability can be affected by industrial emissions of greenhouse gases.  The widespread impacts of climate change compel nations not just to do the least, to attend such conferences, but to aim forward and target objectives like how Canada have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own carbon pricing policies.  How reforestation of millions of hectares per year knocks as a priority on India’s environmental agenda. How coal consumption drives the plateau lands of China to reduce CO2 emissions. How the vast acidifications of marine ecosystem control climate patterns on Australia. How Government scientists in the Philippines yields disaster-resilient crops and upgrade weather forecasting capabilities, and how USA and most European countries have worked to diversify our energy resources, increasingly tapping into renewables such as solar, wind, biomass, hydro, and geothermal power.

The Philippines have the core philosophical ideas of “bayanihan.” This spirit of bayanihan, is exactly the same spirit that informs the nations. It is also at the core which embodies our shared aspirations for a fairer, more climate-proactive world. Let us not only enhance and intensify such work, but also refine our solidarity, so that we may in turn link arms and march on together towards a more resilient, more inclusive future” said by Pres. Benigno Aquino III as he closed his speech at the CVP  in an optimistic but cautious manner.