Nov 30, 2017

Scientists create bacteria that can build rare molecules

The molecular structure of an enzyme produced by engineered bacteria.Image: Caltech / Frances Arnold Laboratory

Bacteria have been engineered to create molecules out of boron and carbon that wouldn't otherwise exist in nature, writes Sam Lemonick for Forbes. The research, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, was conducted by Frances Arnold and her colleagues at Caltech.

Why it matters: Some molecules aren't naturally produced by living creatures and can be costly and difficult to produce in the lab via chemical reactions. Certain cancer drugs require specific boron-carbon bonds, writes Lemonick, and researchers report this process seems 400 times more efficient at creating those bonds than other methods to synthesize them.

The sci-fi stuff: In the future, we might be engineering bacteria that can create a molecule in response to a cue from their environment. For example, it could be possible to make ones that respond to low blood sugar by creating insulin.

Go deeper: We're just starting to explore the potential of synthetic biology. Among other things, scientists have:

Go deeper

Fed temporarily lifts Wells Fargo's growth restrictions

Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it will temporarily lift Wells Fargo’s growth restriction put in place following the bank’s customer abuse scandals.

Why it matters: One of the nation's biggest lenders said the Fed's asset cap prevented it from lending more to struggling small businesses as part of the government's aid package. Now Wells Fargo says it will reopen its application process and lend to a broader set of business owners.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,464,852 — Total deaths: 85,397 — Total recoveries: 315,105Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 402,923 — Total deaths: 13,007 — Total recoveries: 22,717Map.
  3. State latest: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order for New Yorkers to vote by absentee ballot for June 23 primaries.
  4. Federal government latest: The U.S. has begun to see "glimmers of hope" despite its highest recorded number of deaths in 24 hours, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
  5. Business updates: Roughly one-third of U.S. apartment renters didn't make April payments — The Fed will lift Wells Fargo's asset cap to help small business lending.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The battle over billionaire coronavirus saviors
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler liquidates stocks after uproar over coronavirus sell-off

Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Photo: Madnel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher are liquidating their stock portfolio and moving holdings into exchange traded funds (ETFs) after coming under fire for purchasing and selling roughly $1.4 million in stock just before the market crashed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Loeffler, who faces a competitive reelection fight in November, is one of several senators under fire for selling shares shortly after a private briefing on the coronavirus — sparking accusations of insider trading.