Twyman Research Management
Specialist consultants in
scientific project development,
management and presentation
to Twyman Research Management
Twyman Research Management Ltd is a UK company that specializes in scientific project development, management and presentation, including the preparation of research proposals, project management and reporting, project dissemination and complementary activities, and expert assistance with the preparation, editing and revision of scientific manuscripts.
We have been working for more than 20 years to develop and manage research projects and improve the quality of scientific publications.
Article of the Month
Human breastmilk contains complex sugars known as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) that do not provide energy but instead improve the health of breastfed infants by preventing infections, promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria, and supporting normal development. HMOs are not present in typical formula products so bottle-fed infants miss out on these benefits. In October's paper of the month, Parschat et al. describe a new way to produce 2'-fucosyllactose (the most abundant HMO) by bacterial fermentation, starting from sucrose. Although this HMO has been produced by fermentation before, the process required lactose, which is more expensive to source. The new method involves the introduction of a metabolic pathway for 2'-fucosyllactose and can easily be adapted to produce other HMOs. In the future, this could allow the development of formula products that provide a balanced selection of HMOs.
Article details: Parschat K et al. (2020) High-titer de novo biosynthesis of the predominant human milk oligosaccharide 2'-fucosyllactose from sucrose in Escherichia coli. ACS Synth Biol 9 (10) 2784–2796.
Image shows the main HMOs in human breastmilk (mothers with the more common secretor phenotype) with the size of the circles representing proportional content (2'-FL = 2'-fucosyllactose). Left column = neutral, right column = charged. Top row = fucosylated, bottom row = non-fucosylated. Major components are named and empty circles represent minor unnamed components.
Image credit: TRM Ltd.
Limestone and marble structures are highly vulnerable to weathering, which is caused by a combination of acid rain and pollution, the latter resulting in the formation of unsightly black crust. One promising rejuvenation strategy is the use of microbes that precipitate calcium carbonate, replacing the material lost by corrosion. In September’s article of the month, Andreolli et al. show that bacteria isolated from the black crusts on stone monuments can be enriched by cultivation in medium containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and used for the consolidation of damaged stone by applying them in a gel layer, which encourages the formation of a natural biofilm. Calcified bacterial cells were shown to fill the pores in the stone and increase the calcium carbonate content by more than 100%. This could facilitate the restoration of damaged stone buildings and monuments without resorting to modern construction materials.
Article details: Andreolli M et al. (2020) Bacteria from black crusts on stone monuments can precipitate CaCO3 allowing the development of a new bio-consolidation protocol for ornamental stone. Intl Biodet Biodeg 153, 105031.
Image is a stone gargoyle on the Neues Rathaus (Marienplatz, Munich, Germany) showing acid rain damage and black crust formation.
Image credit: Nino Barbieri (CC BY-SA 3.0)
COVID-19 has placed extreme pressure on healthcare systems around the world, leading to shortages of ventilators, personal protective equipment and intensive care beds. One of the issues facing governments trying to deal with the pandemic is that a permanent state of preparedness would be wasteful, with equipment, personnel and facilities standing idle most of the time. This would be especially challenging for reagents with a limited shelf life, such as testing kits. August's article of the month is a correspondence article in Nature Biotechnology, coauthored by Steven Webb (Global Institute for Food Security), Richard Twyman (TRM Ltd) and Maurice Moloney (AgritecKnowledge LLC). The authors argue that the pandemic response can be addressed by using agricultural technology as an emergency resource. The technology routinely used for crop breeding, seed testing and disease monitoring in agriculture is very similar to that used for medical diagnostics and tracing. With appropriate training, agtech laboratories already accustomed to handling hundreds of samples per day could switch to medical tests in a future pandemic scenario.
Article details: Webb SR, Twyman RM & Moloney M (2020) Agtech infrastructure for pandemic preparedness. Nature Biotechnol 38, 1025–1027.