Michael Le Page
Michael Le Page
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CRISPR doubles lifespan of mice with rapid ageing disease progeria

CRISPR doubles lifespan of mice with rapid ageing disease progeria

×has been used to more than double the lifespan of mice engineered to have , also greatly improving their health.The results far surpassed expectations. Progeria affects many different organs in the body, and the team behind the work didn’t expect that correcting the mutation in a relatively low proportion of cells – 10 to 60 per cent – would have such a big effect. “We were quite amazed,” says .Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome is a rare condition caused when a mutation, which probably took place in the testes or ovaries of a child’s parents, results in a single DNA letter change in one...

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Michael Le Page
Jan 14
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Ancestor of pterosaurs might have been a tree-climbing reptile

Ancestor of pterosaurs might have been a tree-climbing reptile

×We finally have a clearer picture of how pterosaurs – a group of extinct flying reptiles – first evolved. The creatures shared dozens of key traits with a long-extinct group of dinosaur-like reptiles that might have been skilled tree climbers, according to a new analysis.Pterosaurs evolved about 220 million years ago and for around 160 million years, until they went extinct along with . Yet figuring out which group of reptiles they evolved from has been difficult.“They appear in the fossil record with fully developed wings and all the modifications associated with flight,” says Martín...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Dec 10
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DeepMind's AI biologist can decipher secrets of the machinery of life

DeepMind's AI biologist can decipher secrets of the machinery of life

×An developed by has achieved the long-sought-after goal of accurately predicting the shape of proteins from their sequence alone, a key part of understanding how the machinery of life works. In a competition, AlphaFold was able to match two-thirds of the results achieved by humans doing expensive and time-consuming lab experiments.“I was really wowed when I saw it,” says John Moult at the University of Maryland, one of the competition’s organisers. “This is the first time we’ve come close to approaching experimental usefulness, which is pretty extraordinary.”Proteins are vital for life....

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Dec 1
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Living electrodes for linking brains to computers tested in rats

Living electrodes for linking brains to computers tested in rats

דLiving electrodes” made of nerve cells genetically modified to respond to light have been successfully implanted in the brains of animals. The hope is that they will provide a better and longer-lasting way to link brains with computers than conventional electrodes.“It allows our technology to be speaking the language of the nervous system, instead of electrical jolts, which is what is done now,” says Kacy Cullen at the University of Pennsylvania. “When our implanted neurons are activated, the deeper part of the brain they are connected to then becomes activated by a natural synaptic...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Nov 15
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Pfizer covid-19 vaccine may not need to be kept at -70°C after all

Pfizer covid-19 vaccine may not need to be kept at -70°C after all

×There may be no need to keep and other similar vaccines at -70°C, potentially making it much easier to distribute them across the world. Two other teams using the same messenger RNA (mRNA) technology for their vaccines have found that they remain stable for at least three months in a normal fridge.The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine candidate generated great excitement around the world this week when the companies announced that it appears to be more than …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive of applicable taxes...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Nov 13
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Hearing restored in rats by modifying ear cells to respond to light

Hearing restored in rats by modifying ear cells to respond to light

×Cochlear implants that restore hearing could be improved by genetically modifying the nerve cells in people’s ears so that they respond to light instead of electricity, a study in rats has shown.“This is so much better than what we currently have with electrical implants,” says Tobias Moser at the University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany.Our hearing relies on hair cells inside the cochlea of our ears detecting sounds of different frequencies and then stimulating the right auditory nerve cells. Damage to these hair cells is a common cause of deafness.AdvertisementCochlear implants can...

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Michael Le Page
Jul 23
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Everything you need to know about the Oxford coronavirus vaccine

Everything you need to know about the Oxford coronavirus vaccine

×An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed at the University of Oxford produces the hoped for immune responses in people. Even though it isn’t yet clear if this means the vaccine will prevent infections, the group that made it has struck deals for companies to make 2 billion doses of it within a year.“It’s a really important day today,” says team leader Sarah Gilbert. “But there’s still a long way to go.”At least 23 experimental vaccines are being tested in people. The aim of these trials is to prove that the , but that will take time, because it requires giving the vaccine or a placebo...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Jul 23
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The powerhouses inside cells have been gene-edited for the first time

The powerhouses inside cells have been gene-edited for the first time

×Mitochondria, the structures inside our cells that use food to produce energy, have been gene-edited for the first time. A new kind of “base editor” was used, opening the door to treating disorders related to faulty mitochondria.These organelles  and mutations in this DNA can lead to to intellectual disability. Some result in death in early childhood, while an accumulation of mitochondrial mutations may be one of the causes of age-related diseases.Two problems have thwarted previous attempts to gene-edit mitochondria. The first is that most gene editors work by cutting DNA, but...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Jul 13
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Birds and other animals may see colours that we cannot even imagine

Birds and other animals may see colours that we cannot even imagine

×Birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish may see kinds of colours we can’t even imagine, say researchers whose experiments with wild hummingbirds show they perceive five so-called non-spectral colours.Almost all of the correspond to a single wavelength. Such colours are called spectral colours because they are part of the visible spectrum, ranging from red and yellow to blue and violet.The exception is , which can be evoked only by a combination of red and blue light, not by any single wavelength. For this reason, it is known as a non-spectral colour. “For us, purple is kind of special,” says...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Jun 22
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Three people with inherited diseases successfully treated with CRISPR

Three people with inherited diseases successfully treated with CRISPR

×Two people with beta thalassaemia and one with sickle cell disease no longer require blood transfusions, which are normally used to treat severe forms of these inherited diseases, after their bone marrow stem cells were gene-edited with .Result of the ongoing trial, which is the first to use CRISPR to treat inherited genetic disorders, were announced today at a virtual meeting of the European Hematology Association.“The preliminary results… demonstrate, in essence, a functional cure for patients with beta thalassaemia and sickle cell disease,” team member Haydar Frangoul at Sarah Cannon...

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Michael Le Page
Jun 14
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African grey parrots are smart enough to help a bird in need

African grey parrots are smart enough to help a bird in need

×African grey parrots are not only really smart, they are helpful too. They are the first bird species to pass a test that requires them both to understand when another animal needs help and to actually give assistance.Besides humans, only bonobos and orangutans have passed this test, says Désirée Brucks at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany. Even chimps and gorillas have failed at it.Brucks and first trained birds one at a time. Each was given a pile of tokens – small metal washers – and taught that they could exchange them for food by passing them to a researcher...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
May 19
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UK plan for green heating will take 1500 years to hit 2050 target

UK plan for green heating will take 1500 years to hit 2050 target

×The UK won’t be able to meet its 2050 climate change targets unless much more is done to . The government’s latest proposals for doing so have been criticised as inadequate.“They are staggeringly unambitious,” says Jan Rosenow at the , an organisation dedicated to speeding up the clean energy transition.Unless more is done, it will take about 1500 years to meet a heating target for 2050 recommended by the UK’s official advisers on cutting emissions, Rosenow calculates.“If this is all there is, then it …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
May 12
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AI suggests Earth has had fewer mass extinctions than we thought

AI suggests Earth has had fewer mass extinctions than we thought

×The best record yet of how biodiversity changed in the distant past has been created with the help of machine learning and a supercomputer. Among other things, it confirms that one of the five didn’t really happen.It was thought the oceans turned toxic around 375 million years ago, near the end of , wiping out many marine species including almost all trilobites. But the latest study shows no evidence of a sudden catastrophic change like . Instead, there was a gradual decline over an immensely long time – around 50 million years.“The late Devonian mass extinction isn’t there,” says Doug...

newscientist.com
Michael Le Page
Apr 19
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