Pinning down consciousness could improve mental health, brain disorder treatments

Studies into consciousness could help explain why patients in vegetative states have varying levels of awareness. Image credit - Dr. Leon Kaufman. University Of California, San Francisco, licensed under CC0

Consciousness – the awareness we have of our self and surroundings – is often referred to as ‘the hard problem’. It’s not easy to scientifically explain how a subjective experience, which is something intangible, can be created by the brain – a physical object. But understanding more about how consciousness works could help us find … Read more

Nanovehicles that mimic nature could deliver treatments of the future

This micro-swimmer encased in a soft hydrogel-like material has fins that are mobile and can expand and contract when stimulated. Such structures could in the future be used to deliver treatments inside the human body. Image credit - Dr Florea (TBC)

Tiny vehicles up to 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair that are cloaked in biological camouflage could provide new ways of treating cancer with fewer side-effects. Over billions of years nature has perfected ingenious ways for biological cells to move around their environment and harmlessly transport packages of chemicals between one … Read more

Parkinson’s disease: Stimulation of brain, feet may help people overcome freezing episodes

More than half of people with advanced Parkinson's disease experience freezing of gait, which can lead to falls.

Paolo Sanvito would often freeze like a statue after entering a meeting room when he was working as a manager in a multinational company. Known as freezing of gait, it’s a disabling symptom of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder that he suffers from. During a freezing episode, a patient feels like their feet are … Read more

Sewage, rivers and soils provide missing link in antibiotic resistance story

In poorer countries, using raw wastewater to irrigate urban farms could be an underlying cause of antibiotic resistance.

If you think that the key to beating antibiotic resistance is only for doctors to prescribe less and scientists to find new drug candidates, you are probably wrong. The fundamental solutions may lie far from medicine – in managing our rivers and soils. That is the view of scientists who have uncovered disturbing amounts of … Read more

Dried-out tardigrades could point way to drug preservation, resilient crops

Scientists are trying to work out how tardigrades survive extreme environments such as heat and drought. Image credit - Frank Fox, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

by Gareth Willmer New insights into how tardigrades survive extremely dry environments could reveal new ways of preserving drugs, boosting crops’ tolerance to drought or fighting disease, but so far there is no simple answer to how these tiny creatures endure desiccation. Despite being nicknamed moss piglets, tardigrades do an awful lot more than just … Read more