Biohackers are pirating a cheap version of a million-dollar Glybera gene therapy

A group of independent biologists say they plan to copy a costly gene therapy. Are they medicine’s Robin Hood or a threat to safety? by Alex Pearlman Citing the tremendous cost of new drugs, an international group of biohackers say they are creating a knock-off of a million-dollar gene therapy. The drug being copied isContinue reading “Biohackers are pirating a cheap version of a million-dollar Glybera gene therapy”

Goats reveal their feelings with the sound of distinctive bleats

By Clare Wilson “Maaah.” Goat calls might all sound the same to us, but the animals seem to recognise when one of their herd-mates is happy or sad from their bleats alone. When goats hear a series of calls that change in emotional tone, they look towards the source of the sound – and theirContinue reading “Goats reveal their feelings with the sound of distinctive bleats”

Bluehead wrasse fish switch from female to male in just 20 days

By Michael Le Page For many fish, changing sex is a normal part of life. For the first time, we have found out exactly how one of these species – a small cleaner fish called the bluehead wrasse – does it. Erica Todd at the University of Otago in New Zealand and her colleagues removedContinue reading “Bluehead wrasse fish switch from female to male in just 20 days”

Sydney Brenner (1927-2019)

Sydney Brenner was one of the first to view James Watson and Francis Crick’s double helix model of DNA in April 1953. The 26-year-old biologist from South Africa was then a graduate student at the University of Oxford, UK. So enthralled was he by the insights from the structure that he determined on the spotContinue reading “Sydney Brenner (1927-2019)”

Something Really Fascinating Happens When You Give Plants Anesthetic

by PETER DOCKRILL When somebody mentions anaesthetics, we probably think straight away of pain relief, but there’s a lot more going on in these complex chemical compounds than the simple negation of discomfort. While there’s a range of chemicals that can induce anaesthesia in humans, just how these unrelated compounds trigger a lack of consciousnessContinue reading “Something Really Fascinating Happens When You Give Plants Anesthetic”

2018 Ig Nobel Prizes

cientific studies on the cleaning power of spit, a lone fruit fly’s ability to spoil wine, and cannibals’ caloric intake garnered top honors at the 28th Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The seriously silly citations, which “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then think,” were awarded on Sept. 13 at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre.Continue reading “2018 Ig Nobel Prizes”

Gut bacteria’s shocking secret – they produce electricity.

Listeria bacteria transport electrons through their cell wall into the environment as tiny currents, assisted by ubiquitous flavin molecules (yellow dots). (Amy Cao graphic, copyright UC Berkeley) By Robert Sanders While bacteria that produce electricity have been found in exotic environments like mines and the bottoms of lakes, scientists have missed a source closer toContinue reading “Gut bacteria’s shocking secret – they produce electricity.”

Identification of types of chronic pain patients who will respond to placebo.

Someday doctors may prescribe sugar pills for certain chronic pain patients based on their brain anatomy and psychology. And the pills will reduce their pain as effectively as any powerful drug on the market, according to new research. Northwestern Medicine scientists have shown they can reliably predict which chronic pain patients will respond to aContinue reading “Identification of types of chronic pain patients who will respond to placebo.”

Researchers Use Artificial Intelligence to Identify, Count, Describe Wild Animals

Motion sensor “camera traps” unobtrusively take pictures of animals in their natural environment, oftentimes yielding images not otherwise observable. The artificial intelligence system automatically processes such images, here correctly reporting this as a picture of two impala standing. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reports how a cutting-edgeContinue reading “Researchers Use Artificial Intelligence to Identify, Count, Describe Wild Animals”

Jellyfish, which don’t have brains, found to have what may be an early form of sleep

The purpose and evolutionary origins of sleep are among the biggest mysteries in neuroscience. Every complex animal, from the humblest fruit fly to the largest blue whale, sleeps — yet scientists can’t explain why any organism would leave itself vulnerable to predators, and unable to eat or mate, for a large portion of the day.Continue reading “Jellyfish, which don’t have brains, found to have what may be an early form of sleep”