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Radhika Gupta verified badge
Electronics Engineer | Editor at The Surg
September 15, 2017 · 509 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Scientists have programmed a robot made of DNA to pick up and sort molecules

Imagine a robot that could help you tidy your home: roving about, sorting stray socks into the laundry and dirty dishes into the dishwasher. While such a practical helper may still be the stuff of science fiction, Caltech scientists have developed an autonomous molecular machine that can perform similar tasks — at the nanoscale. This “robot,” made of a single strand of DNA, can autonomously “walk” around a surface, pick up certain molecules and drop them off in designated locations.

Reference: Science


Researchers are working on creating synthetic spinal cord that could eliminate paralysis

The project the researchers are pursuing are nothing short of cutting-edge. While today’s prosthetics are useful and can give amputees a way to regain lost motor functions, scientists think they can improve upon these devices by combining them with advanced neural implants. This gives a person’s nerves and muscles a way to talk to a prosthetic, making it easier for the device to be controlled and function like a biological limb.

Research: Centre for Extreme Bionics

A new group of anti-inflammatory drugs may help treat depression, new study finds.

Scientists are now calling the link between depression and inflammation caused by a faulty immune system definitive. Whether it’s causal or not, the connection opens up new avenues for treatment, and new hope for sufferers. The new anti-inflammatory drugs, which are currently used to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, were found to also reduce symptoms of depression.

Reference: Molecular Psychiatry

Experiences in childhood can alter your DNA making you prone to illness forever

Childhood is a defining period in anybody’s life, but for many of us it seems those early life experiences could change the body right down to a genetic level. Researchers can now accurately predict whether a handful of genes responsible for regulating inflammation are altered by identifying key childhood events, suggesting the illnesses we get later in life could be the result of events in our formative years.

Reference: PNAS

Gut microbes could actually trigger relapse of multiple sclerosis

The role played by the millions of bacteria that live in our intestines is poorly understood, but the more we learn, the more complex it gets. And, according to two new studies out this week, this microbiome could play a more significant part in multiple sclerosis than we thought. Multiple sclerosis, which affects 2.5 million people around the world, is thought to be an autoimmune disease. During a relapse, or attack, immune cells breach the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system, something that is highly restricted in healthy people.

Reference: PNAS

Researchers can finally track the life cycle of human cells by analyzing their nucleus

Up until now, it’s only been possible to track where cells are in their life cycle once they’re dead. However, a new study outlines a method of analysing living cells by taking a close look at their nucleus. Scientists have established a method of gauging what stage of the cell cycle a living cell is currently at. Previously, it was only possible to take such measurements when working with a dead cell.

Reference: Biophysical Journal

Physicists create a new molecule, atom by atom that can have unique applications

UCLA physicists have pioneered a method for creating a unique new molecule that could eventually have applications in medicine, food science and other fields. Their research also shows how chemical reactions can be studied on a microscopic scale using tools of physics.

Reference: Science

Biomarkers in the blood show diet can influence onset of type 2 diabetes

Researchers have found that several diet and nutrient biomarkers — molecules that can be measured in blood that are related to diet — are linked with both risk to have type 2 diabetes and future risk of developing diabetes. The study finds that diet is one of the strongest predictors of type 2 diabetes risk in older women.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

New mechanism for storing information in synapses and controlling memory discovered

Researchers have recently discovered a new mechanism for storing information in synapses and a means of controlling the storage process. The breakthrough moves science closer to unveiling the mystery of the molecular mechanisms of memory and learning processes.

Reference: Nature

A vaccine that can literally eradicate majority of cervical cancers shows long-term effectiveness

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and a coalition of Alabama health groups last year launched a formal call for action, urging Alabama parents and health care providers to get children — girls and boys — vaccinated against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV. The vaccine is unique in its ability to prevent certain cancers.

Reference: The Lancet

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