Top stories in science this week
1. Scientists cured diabetes in mice using gene transfer
Researchers at the University of Texas Health San Antonio report they have essentially cured type 1 diabetes in laboratory mice by using gene transfer. The discovery increases the types of pancreatic cells that secrete insulin, which represents a potential cure for type 1 diabetes and could end insulin dependence in type 2 diabetes. The technique, known as gene transfer, involves using a virus as a vector to carry selected genes into the pancreas, which then are incorporated and cause digestive system and other cell types to make insulin.
2. 3-D printed ovaries produced healthy off springs
The bioprosthetic ovaries are constructed of 3-D printed scaffolds that house immature eggs, and they have been successful in boosting hormone production and restoring fertility in mice, which was the ultimate goal of the research. The scientists’ sole objective for developing the bioprosthetic ovaries was to help restore fertility and hormone production in women who have undergone adult cancer treatments, or those who survived childhood cancer, and now have increased risks of infertility and hormone-based developmental issues.
3. Scientists have found a way to create stem cells that can form blood
Stem cells are specially programmed cells whose job is to create all the other cells in the body. This is the first time researchers have checked all the boxes and made blood stem cells. This step opens up an opportunity to take cells from patients with genetic blood disorders, use gene editing to correct their genetic defect and make functional blood cells.
4. Physicists have managed to directly detect a hydrogen bond within a single molecule
For the first time ever, physicists have managed to directly detect a hydrogen bond within a single molecule — meaning we can now observe the smallest and most abundant element in the Universe in ways that scientists could only ever theorise about. The experiment also reveals just how sensitive our imaging devices have become. Hydrogen bonds are far weaker than chemical bonds, and until now, it’s been impossible to see them. Now, scientists can visualise them so clearly using an atomic force microscope, they can measure their exact force.
5. Scientists have reversed age-related blindness by infecting eyes with a virus
A small and preliminary clinical trial has found that injecting a common cold-like virus into the eyes of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients — one of the leading causes of blindness in the US — can halt and even reverse the progression of the disease. The approach, trialled by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland, targeted a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is overactive in people with wet AMD — a rare and more severe form of the disease, which causes new blood vessels to grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid into the eye.
6. A newly discovered gene variant reduces the risk of severe malaria by 40%
Researchers have identified a simple gene variant related to human red blood cells that helps protect certain people against malaria. The discovery sheds light on how our bodies have evolved to fight against a deadly disease that has plagued our species for millennia, and could open up the way to new treatments.
7. A teenager has built the world’s lightest satellite — and NASA’s launching it
An Indian teenager has won an international competition to build a functioning satellite, and not only has he produced what is reportedly the world’s lightest satellite device — NASA has also agreed to launch it next month. The tiny satellite weighs just 64 grams (0.14 lb), and will embark on a 4-hour sub-orbital mission launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on June 21. Once positioned in microgravity, its main objective will be to test the durability of its extremely light, 3D-printed casing.
8. For the first time, physicists have observed a giant magnetic bridge between galaxies
For the first time, scientists have detected evidence of a magnetic field that’s associated with the vast intergalactic ‘bridge’ that links our two nearest galactic neighbours. Known as the Magellanic Bridge, the bridge is a huge stream of neutral gas that stretches some 75,000 light-years between our two neighbouring galaxies: the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC). Although researchers had predicted it was there, this is the first observation of its magnetic field, and it could help us understand how these vast bridges come to be.
9. Scientists discovered yet another coral reef devastated by global warming
A recent expedition to the Chagos Archipelago, a collection of at least 60 small islands in the Indian Ocean, has revealed devastating coral bleaching and coral death.
10. The most well preserved dinosaur fossil has been discovered
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