Island cores unravel mysteries of ancient Maltese civilisation

The Ġgantija temples of Malta are among the earliest free-standing buildings known. Image credit - Bs0u10e01, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The mysteries of an ancient civilisation that survived for more than a millennium on the island of Malta – and then collapsed within two generations – have been unravelled by archaeologists who analysed pollen buried deep within the earth and ancient DNA from skulls and bones. It’s part of a field of work that is … Read more

Transplant recipients may soon have a test to protect against organ rejection

In 2017, 34,000 transplants were carried out in the EU, while 60,000 people were on a waiting list for a transplant by the end of the year. Image credit - Flickr/Lars Plougmann, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

To help prevent organ rejection, transplant recipients could receive drug cocktails personalised to their own immune systems if a new test, which has passed early trials, is successful. And new methods for scrubbing animal tissue could enable humans to benefit from other species’ organs in the future. In the EU alone, there were 60,000 people on … Read more

In a picture: Filming the immune system in action – Prof. Georg Fantner

This video shows the body's immune system attacking a bacterial membrane. It punches one hole in the surface before pausing and then punching more. Video source - nature communications ( DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-10058-7

By assembling a camera that can record video at nanometre resolution, scientists have filmed how the immune system kills bacteria by poking holes into it. Professor Georg Fantner tells us about how this was achieved and why his next challenge is to build a video camera that can film the inside of a living cell. We … Read more

‘Young scientists share protesters’ sense of urgency on climate’

Young scientists are blurring the boundaries between advocacy and research, according to Luciana Miu, vice chair of the 2019 International Student Energy Summit.

Young scientists have the ambition, disruptive thinking and sense of urgency to drive clean energy forward at the radical pace that is needed, says Luciana Miu, a PhD student in chemical engineering who is focusing on energy efficiency at Imperial College London, UK.  She is vice chair of the 2019 International Student Energy Summit, the flagship … Read more

Notre Dame: Medieval stonemasons built vaulted ceilings to protect against fires

Medieval stonemasons knew very well what they were doing when they built ceiling vaults such as those found in Notre Dame, says gothic vault expert. Image credit - CC0

Medieval stonemasons built soaring vaulted ceilings such as those of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France, using techniques that are still not completely understood today. The challenge of restoring Notre Dame after the fire in April presents an opportunity to unravel the techniques of the time, says Professor David Wendland, chair of construction … Read more

Danish dogs to receive virus-inspired cancer vaccine treatment

Researchers are testing the therapeutic vaccine on dogs with the hope that trials could progress to humans. Image Credit - Pixabay/No License

Fifteen Danish dogs with advanced cancer are to receive a new type of therapeutic vaccine which, it is hoped, will rid them of the disease and pave the way for human testing. Unlike preventative vaccines, therapeutic vaccines are not used to prevent someone from getting a disease but rather to support an immune system that … Read more