Summary: USATODAY.com - Genetic mapping bacteria could lead to blood substitute http://usatoday.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=USA...
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Genetic mapping bacteria could lead to blood substitute
HONOLULU (AP) -- Scientists using supercomputers to study the bacteria
that thrive in Hawaii's inhospitable environments say mapping the genetic
patterns of the microorganisms could lead to a number of medical
breakthroughs, including possibly creation of a blood substitute.
Researchers at the Maui High Performance Computing Center have received a grant from IBM to
study the organisms found in the acidic, heated waters surrounding the submerged Loihi active
volcano, a formation in 3,000-foot waters about 20 miles off the Big Island.
The research builds on work unveiled two years ago that sequenced the genome of a rare bacteria
collected from the volcano's vent, a deep-sea habitat similar to the primordial pools from which life
sprung 3.5 billion years ago.
Maqsudul Alam, a University of Hawaii scientist working on the project, said the bacteria's DNA
includes proteins -- including myoglobin and hemoglobin -- that mirror those of humans.
That means the organisms could be studied to model a blood substitute for use in emergency rooms
and for the enhancement of drugs that treat globin protein-related illnesses, Alam said.