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

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

Can we reverse antibiotic resistance?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have had their antibiotic resistance reversed in Prof. Almqvist's lab. Image credit - Pixnio/ Janice Haney Carr, Jeff Hageman, M.H.S, USCDCP, licensed under CC0

by Vittoria D’Alessio In the battle against antibiotic resistance, some scientists are trying a new approach: re-sensitising bacteria to drugs they no longer respond to so that existing antibiotics can hit their target once more. ‘This is a sustainable and straightforward approach to the problem of antibiotic resistance,’ said Fredrik Almqvist, professor of organic chemistry … Read more

New findings about how a human egg matures may help prevent infertility and birth defects

DNA or chromosome errors are found in 20% of women in their early 20s, say researchers.

by Vittoria d’Alessio Decoding how the human egg matures and how this process can go wrong could lead to ways of preventing genetic errors leading to infertility, birth defects or pregnancy loss. Physiological changes known to trigger miscarriages and to increase the likelihood of carrying a child with a genetic condition start in a woman’s … Read more

Non-antibiotic cures for cows could speed up treatments for people

Mastitis, a bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of a cow's mammary glands and udders, has long been a scourge of the dairy industry. Image credit - Tomasz Jagielski, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

by Gareth Willmer As the global antibiotic resistance crisis grows, chemical-based aerosol sprays and electrical signals to wake up the immune system are being developed to treat cow infections. These non-antibiotic therapies for livestock could also help to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance through the human food chain. The animal sector, which uses drugs … Read more