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Scientists work together to create more effective medicines Advances continue to progress personalised medicine, a field in which drugs are tailored to patients’ needs based on their genetic information. Historically, simply screening patients’ genomes enabled this trend but more recently, synthetic nucleotide-based medicines have taken this a step further. Nucleotide-based medicines use artificial DNA and RNA (nucleotides) to target cellular genetic information directly, shutting off genetic diseases at their source.

Regulation and Foresight

Harry Lloyd ponders our duty to think ahead of technological progress As we marvel at the latest gadgets, technology is already working behind the scenes to bring us the ‘Next Big Thing’. It has a sly habit of developing rapidly, but never making leaps so big we collectively stop to think about where it’s all headed. Like a toad in a slowly heating bath of water, we might not know

Judged by your Genes

Katherine Dudman introduces genetic discrimination, the sly cousin of racism and sexism Have you ever spared a thought for the value of the information encoded in your genes? Have others? We are constantly bombarded with headlines about the latest research to link behaviour, appearance or disease to variations in our genetic makeup. You may even have considered your own chances of developing cancer, escaping Alzheimer’s or making it through to

Just Your Cup of Tea

Sophie Protheroe examines the global history of tea and its effect on our health Tea has become a quintessentially British symbol. As a nation, we have been drinking tea for over 350 years. However, tea has endured a tumultuous journey to reach its status as the nation’s favourite beverage. Originating in China, where it was thought to have medicinal properties, tea’s history is closely intertwined with the history of botany

Shakes and the City

Seán Thór Herron talks to Dr Emily So about preparing for earthquakes in urban areas At a quarter to three on Friday, 11th March 2011, as the citizens of the Honshu island of Japan were looking forward to the weekend, tectonic stresses caused a massive slip on the ocean floor off the East coast. The sea floor jerked as much as ten metres upward and fiftymetres horizontally. The rupture length

Syndrome: Tumbling into Wonderland

Mirlinda Ademi scrutinises the syndrome that simulates Wonderland Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland celebrated its 150th anniversary just last year. Ever since Charles Lutwidge Dogson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, published the children’s tale in 1865 the story and its crazy characters have served as a powerful source of inspiration for novelists, filmmakers and poets alike. “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised,

Tissue Engineering Scaffolds: Guiding the rise of Cell Therapies

Oran Maguire explains how engineering and cell biology are carving out a new field One of the most exciting fields to emerge in the life sciences and biotechnology in recent years is tissue engineering, which centers around creating a reliable supply of functional tissue that will not be rejected by potential transplantees. Yet if it is ever going to realise its goals in the clinic, tissue engineering will have to

How our experiences affect our children

Jiali Gao looks at what toad sex, a suicide and starvation have taught genetics The theory of evolution is up there with the ‘universal law of gravitation’ and the ‘theory of general relativity’ when it comes to popular science. Darwin and Lamarck’s famous historical showdown is ensconced in GCSE Science textbooks, with Darwin emerging as the heroic victor, whilst Lamarck’s work is relegated to history’s dumping ground for scientific theories

In Search of Quantum Gravity

In Search of Quantum Gravity Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh explores the holographic universe Modern fundamental physics consists of two major pillars; general relativity, describing the interactions between matter and spacetime at the largest scales imaginable, and quantum mechanics, the physics governing the behaviour of subatomic particles. Despite each respective theory being tested to an extraordinary degree of accuracy, they are fundamentally incompatible with each other – general relativity predicts continuous spacetime as

Does Your Brain Have a Sex?

Does your brain have a sex? Julia Gottwald shows us that human male and female brains are more similar than we think If you were a fruit fly and smelled male pheromones, you would show a strong and consistent response. As a female fly, you would engage in courtship behaviour; as a male fly, you would become more aggressive. We know that pheromones activate different clusters of neurons in the