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Radhika Gupta verified badge
Electronics Engineer | Editor at The Surg
July 30, 2017 · 84 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Scientists have succeeded in curing two infants with aggressive cancer using gene editing

Cancer continues to be one of the major diseases that plagues humanity. Around the world, approximately 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The prevalence of cancer is due, in part, to the absence of a universal cure for all forms of the disease. While various treatments are available, each type of cancer generally requires specific treatment. The team has successfully tested their method on two infants with an aggressive form of leukaemia.

Reference: Science Translational Medicine

Scientists have edited a human embryo in the US for the first time

Until now, American scientists have watched with a combination of awe, envy, and some alarm as scientists elsewhere were first to explore the controversial practice. To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China. Now Mitalipov is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.

Although none of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days—and there was never any intention of implanting them into a womb—the experiments are a milestone on what may prove to be an inevitable journey toward the birth of the first genetically modified humans.

Reference: MIT Technology Review

A fresh analysis of tardigrade’s genome revealed secrets about its origin

By comparing the genes of taken from two different species from the phylum Tardigrada, researchers determined how the group is related to other animals while pinpointing the genes that allow individuals to survive being dried to a husk. The international team of researchers sequenced genes taken from the species Ramazzottius varieornatus and Hypsibius dujardini and compared them with other animals that most closely resemble the tardigrade.

Reference: PLOS

A new study suggests that implanting neural stem cells to brain can extend human lifespan

A new study suggests it’s also responsible for keeping us young, thanks to a supply of neural stem cells that regulate our ageing. Sadly, these disappear with time – which could be why we get old – but tests with mice show that implanting new cells to replace them can extend lifespan.

Reference: Nature

Scientists have successfully regrown spinal cords in rats using patches of stem cells

For the first time, scientists have successfully regrown part of the spinal cord responsible for voluntary movement in mice, using patches of stem cells. While we’re still a long way from a cure for paralysis and other spinal cord injuries in humans, the success of the experiment goes against what researchers had assumed for many years – that you can’t regenerate neurons in the spinal cord.

Reference: Nature Medicine

Scientists revealed that depression could change wiring inside the brain

Scientists have identified a link between depression and the structure of white matter in the brain, those areas responsible for connecting grey matter and making sure our emotions and thoughts are properly processed. The study could be valuable in suggesting new ways to treat and manage depression, if we can work out how these white matter changes affect mood and anxiety.

Reference: Scientific Reports

Researchers developed a new material that could charge phones and electric cars in seconds

Previous research has looked at the use of supercapacitors as an energy storage device for portable electronics. Supercapacitors release energy in large bursts, and have incredible potential when it comes to powering our technology. The problem is they can only be used for rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long term energy storage.

Reference: Nature Energy

Physicists have created a particle that acts as its own antiparticle

In simple terms, for every type of fundamental particle in the Universe there is the equivalent of an evil twin complete with an opposing charge; the negatively charged electron, for example, has a positively charged positron as its antiparticle. Bringing the two particles together makes them cancel out each other’s existence, leaving behind nothing but an intense burst of gamma radiation.

Reference: Science

Scientists transformed RNA into logic circuits that can perform various computations

New research demonstrates how living cells can be induced to carry out computations in the manner of tiny robots or computers. The results of the new study have significant implications for intelligent drug design and smart drug delivery, green energy production, low-cost diagnostic technologies and even the development of futuristic nanomachines capable of hunting down cancer cells or switching off aberrant genes.

Reference: Nature

Vaccine that could prevent type 1 diabetes is ready to start human trials in 2018

A prototype vaccine, decades in the making, that could prevent type 1 diabetes in children is ready to start clinical trials in 2018. It’s not a cure, and it won’t eliminate the disease altogether, but the vaccine is expected to provide immunity against a virus that has been found to trigger the body’s defences into attacking itself, potentially reducing the number of new diabetes cases each year.

Reference: Vaccine

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