Genetics could explain how traumatic events affect people’s health

There could be a genetic explanation for why some people are more susceptible to ill health following traumatic life events such as a natural disaster. Image credit - Pfc. Nicholas T. Howes, USMC

by Kelly Oakes Facing the death of a loved one, being given a life-threatening diagnosis, or living through a natural disaster is difficult enough. But those who get through these traumatic life events often face further ill effects. Someone’s chances of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety all increase after being exposed to significant … Read more

Genetically engineered animals offer fresh hope to heart valve patients

Genetically engineered mutations in cows could pave the way for transplant patients to receive whole animal organs in the future. Image credit - Pexels/Kat Jayne, licensed under Pexels license

Scientists have cloned a genetically engineered bull which they hope will help heart valve transplant patients lead better quality lives and benefit people with red meat allergies. Every year, about 300,000 people worldwide receive a new heart valve. Whenever possible, doctors use valves made of tissue from cows or pigs, because the synthetic alternatives can … Read more

How did the plague reshape Bronze Age Europe?

In the early Bronze Age, there was an infusion of a different genetic makeup in Europe whose origin ancient DNA experts are trying to explain. Image credit - geograph/David Dixon, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Europe changed dramatically during the Bronze Age, with huge population shifts generally ascribed to the rise of new metal technologies, trading and climate change. But scientists believe that there may have been another reason for this social upheaval – the plague, possibly transported by, or on the back of, newly domesticated horses. Plague is forever … Read more

Nobel prize winner: Oxygen regulation discoveries are starting to lead to new anaemia, cancer drugs

Basic research into hypoxia is helping to find mechanisms that would starve cancer of the oxygen it needs to grow. Image credit - Nephron, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

by Vittoria D’Alessio Drugs that activate or block the body’s oxygen-sensing machinery to treat conditions such as anaemia in patients with chronic kidney disease and cancer are being made possible because we now understand the way that cells respond to oxygen deprivation, according to Sir Peter Ratcliffe, one of three winners of this year’s Nobel … Read more

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