Nature or nurture: How do we end child obesity?

An estimated 224 million children worldwide are overweight or obese.

A smartphone app that challenges children to engage in healthy behaviour, and genetic studies that investigate risk factors for obesity, are taking a nature and nurture approach to tackling one of the biggest epidemics of our time – childhood obesity. Around 224 million children around the world are overweight, making obesity one of the biggest public health … Read more

Family’s grief sparks a quest for better bladder cancer cures

Millions of lives are lost to cancer due to late detection so scientists are working on better ways of diagnosing the disease.

‘Invasive and uncomfortable’ prodedures for detecting if someone has bladder cancer could be replaced by urine tests that not only screen for the presence of the disease but also help doctors choose the right course of treatment for a particular patient. ‘Our lives literally came to a stop when my mother was diagnosed with cancer,’ said … Read more

New clues unearthed about mammals’ rapid evolution after dinosaur extinction

The extinction of the dinosaurs paved the way for today's mammalian diversity.

It was a life-altering event. Around 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, an asteroid struck the Earth, triggering a mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs and some 75% of all species. Somehow mammals survived, thrived, and became dominant across the planet. Now we have new clues about how that … Read more

Genetic profiling could improve IVF success

There are three sources of variability in fertility - genetics, the family environment and the individual environment.

by Frieda Klotz Genetic profiling could help determine whether an embryo created through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is likely to successfully transfer to the womb, increasing the success rate of the procedure. It’s part of a field of work looking at the role of genetics in fertility. ‘Understanding why some people do not have children, and … Read more

Omics, sweet omics – curing the incurable, one disease at a time

In recent years, the genetic defects behind about 5,000 of the estimated 7,000-8,000 rare diseases have been discovered, largely thanks to omics.

There are many rare genetic diseases that strike perhaps only one in a million people. Often incurable, they can be profoundly debilitating and frequently life-threatening. Though each particular disease is rare, they number in the thousands – which means that together they affect about 30 million Europeans or around 7% of us. Treating these diseases is challenging … Read more

Skeleton teeth and historical photography are retelling the story of the plague

Scientists have unearthed photographs taken in countries including China during third plague pandemic, which killed 12 million people between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries.

New portraits of the evolution of some of history’s deadliest pandemics have been created through analysis of thousands of skeletons and new collections of historical photographs – and the results could indicate how similar diseases may evolve in the future. Genetic material from infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and the plague leave fossil traces of … Read more