Greener fuels to propel rocket launches into space

Hydrazine, the most common rocket propellant, is on the EU’s list of substances of high concern.

by Ethan Bilby Turns out, green fuels are rocket science. Space exploration may have given us pictures of our pristine, blue planet Earth and raised awareness to protect our environment, but that’s no good if the rockets that get us to orbit are based on old, toxic propellants. For decades, the most common rocket propellant has … Read more

Preparing for the outbreak: helping research swing into action in central Africa

Image credit - European Commission DG ECHO, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Vittoria D’Alessio When an outbreak strikes, speed is critical. Health workers must act quickly not only to contain and treat an emerging or re-emerging disease, but also to use this window to evaluate potential treatments and vaccines. And the challenge becomes even greater in sub-Saharan Africa when you’re trying to develop new approaches in the … Read more

Cerebral palsy: studying baby steps could lead to better treatments

Image credit - Paul Eisenberg, licensed under CC BY 2.0, image was cropped

Understanding the progression from the stepping reflex to independent walking could help find new therapies for children with cerebral palsy (CP) – a movement disability caused by brain damage before, during or shortly after birth. A baby’s first steps are a magical moment – an early stepping stone towards independent walking. Children usually begin to … Read more

Bacteria keep us healthy – but could they keep us young?

Image Credit - Flickr/Pedro Simoes CC BY 2.0

By Gareth Willmer A study in mice has indicated that the make-up of bacteria in the gut is linked with learning abilities and memory, providing a potential avenue of research into how to maintain cognitive functioning as we age. It’s part of a field of research looking at the link between gut bacteria and ageing … Read more

Elephant genes suppress tumours. Could studying this help us prevent cancer?

Image credit - Virpi Lummaa

The genetics and ageing rate of elephants could hold clues to helping us find better ways to fight cancer and lead healthier, longer lives. In 2015, 1.3 million people died from cancer in the EU, more than one quarter of the total number of deaths across the 28 nations. Despite cancer treatment improving in recent years, the … Read more

Heartbeats and memory suppression – the new tools for controlling fear

Image Credit - Flickr/Franck Michel

Most of us feel afraid when faced with a threat or danger, but people with phobias and anxiety feel overwhelming levels of fear in situations that are relatively harmless. Scientists want to moderate this response by using drugs to wipe out scary memories or by harnessing the power of heartbeats to improve therapy. Usually, people … Read more