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Research Recap: Breastmilk benefits, UC Drug Discovery Consortium and selfish genes

By Allison Ong

May 15, 2017 8:00 p.m.

May 8

  • UCLA researchers publish a study in JAMA Pediatrics about the transfer of beneficial bacteria through breastmilk in 107 mother-infant pairs. Gut bacteria in the intestinal tract help digest food and condition the immune system for bacterial exposure. The study found 30 percent of a baby’s gut bacteria comes directly from breastmilk and 10 percent from the breast skin. These findings support breastfeeding as a healthy, natural method of building immunity to conditions such as asthma or inflammatory bowel disease.

May 15

  • The University of California launched the systemwide UC Drug Discovery Consortium on Monday. The $2.2 million, three-year grant will facilitate increased resource collaboration between UC medical centers in the race to develop life-saving drugs.

May 11

  • On Thursday, researchers discovered that the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, a popular animal model for laboratory research, encodes genes for both a poison and its antidote. They labeled these DNA stretches “selfish genes” because they hold no benefit for the worm other than promoting its inheritance. Studying selfish genes may help scientists combat malaria.
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