September 26, 2018

Week In STEM-29 Aug

Another Cancer Treatment Breakthrough

Cancer research scientists have managed to programme cancerous cells back to normal for the first time, potentially giving doctors the ability to ‘switch off’ cancer. The breakthrough could potentially lead to the development of life-saving treatments and possibly even reverse the growth of cancerous tumours.

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Lab_13 Ghana receives £30,000 Wellcome Trust funding

Lab_13 Ghana, a collaborative science education project developed by the UK-based charity Lightyear Foundation and Ignite, has been awarded a £30,000 Wellcome Trust International Engagement Award. The Award provides crucial funding to fully establish Lab_13 Ghana following an extremely successful pilot project.

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Celebrating the Last Ebola Patient In Sierra Leone

There were celebrations in Sierra Leone as the last confirmed Ebola patient was released from hospital today starting a 42-day countdown to being declared free of the virus.

Medical staff cheered and danced as Adama Sankoh, 35, left hospital marking what is hopefully the beginning of the end of the country’s epidemic.

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Reducing The Tsetse Fly Menace

Handkerchief-sized blue flags covered in insecticide could trap and kill tsetse flies, offering a new and cheaper way to help eliminate sleeping sickness from Sub-Saharan Africa.

The blue cloths attract the flies, which carry Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes sleeping sickness. Dotted around disease hotspots, the traps could be a cheap addition to existing efforts to control sleeping sickness through screening for infection and treating the victims, researchers say.

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Imaging techniques set new standard for super-resolution in live cells

Scientists can now watch dynamic biological processes with unprecedented clarity in living cells using new imaging techniques developed by researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus. The new methods dramatically improve on the spatial resolution provided by structured illumination microscopy, one of the best imaging methods for seeing inside living cells.

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Microbiomes of human throat may be linked to schizophrenia

In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers have identified a potential link between microbes (viruses, bacteria and fungi) in the throat and schizophrenia. This link may offer a way to identify causes and develop treatments of the disease and lead to new diagnostic tests.

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Paper Tests For Detecting Diseases

A quick, paper-based blood test which can simultaneously detect the Ebola, dengue and yellow fever viruses has shown promising results in tests, say researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.

The test combines coloured silver nanoparticles with antibodies against each of the three viruses. If a patient has the corresponding virus in their blood, the test pad shows a disease-specific colour within a few minutes.

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Flat Pack Homes

A photo gallery, published ahead of World Humanitarian Day, explores how Swedish social enterprise Better Shelter is working with the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR to put innovative design into action in emergency settings across the world.

Its shelters are designed to be more robust and durable than the tents humanitarian organisations typically supply. Unlike tents, which last for around three to six months, the metal structures and polypropylene panels of the Better Shelter units are designed to withstand harsh sunlight, strong winds and dust storms, and last for at least three years.

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New Drug Protects Against Effect Of Radiation Exposure

An interdisciplinary research team led by The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston reports a new breakthrough in countering the deadly effects of radiation exposure. A single injection of a regenerative peptide was shown to significantly increase survival in mice when given 24 hours after nuclear radiation exposure.

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Ants Know How To Self-Medicate

Scientists from the University of Helsinki, Finland, have now shown that black ant Formica fusca can change their taste for food once exposed to the fungal pathogens. In the compound of interest was hydrogen peroxide, which can be found in the damaged plants, other insects and cadavers.

“When ants are feeding on the diet containing extra free radicals they are able to survive infections significantly better. Moreover, the ants also choose the diet including extra free radicals after they are exposed to fungus, but not if they are not,” says University researcher Dalial Freitak from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

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Towards A More Effective Long-Lasting Flu Vaccine

Scientists have found a way to induce antibodies to fight a wide range of influenza subtypes — work that could one day eliminate the need for repeated seasonal flu shots. The study shows that we’re moving in the right direction for a universal flu vaccine.

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