Biomedical Sciences

Running Away from Unwanted Inflammation

Kimberley Wiggins explores the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise Inflammation – it can save your life, or it can kill you. The process is necessary for the body’s response to injury and infection, where it helps to repair damaged tissue and fight off invading microbes. The problems start when levels of inflammatory mediators rise throughout the body in the absence of infections or tissue damage. This is known as ‘chronic low-grade

Overherd Immunity

Caitlin Stewart discusses the importance of vaccination and the dangers of the anti-vaccination movement Vaccination has been all over the news in recent years, as deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases are returning and infecting the population worldwide. One of these diseases, measles, was declared eradicated in the USA in the year 2000, but has since made a resurgence; with a 3-fold increase in cases between 2013 and 2014, according to the CDC,

Multidrug Resistance

Arthur Neuberger explains how increasing antibiotic resistance is a global threat that we breed inside ourselves In an interview with the BBC on the emerging threat of antibiotic resistance, Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, made clear that if global society does not take countermeasures against the spread of antibiotic resistance today, in 10 to 20 years from now, we all might be back to an

The Ageing Brain

Antonina Kouli and Bart Nieuwenhuis put the future of our brains under the microscope. Ageing is an inevitable part of life – but what exactly makes us age? While researchers agree that there is no single cause of ageing – rather, it is a continuous multifactoral process – we are far from a complete understanding of the mechanisms at work. In particular, ageing of the brain remains a mystery. “Brain

When Citizen Science Works

Kimberley Wiggins gives us the story of an email that led to a medical breakthrough There are many hallmarks of a great scientific mind: the ability to think outside the box, the capacity to see connections between seemingly unrelated situations, and the aptitude to ask relevant questions and think up a way to answer them. Although scientists try to nurture and develop these skills throughout their careers, you do not have

Revisiting the Test Tube

Sarah Foster considers the ethical implications of growing human embryos in the lab for longer-term experiments Still reeling from a flurry of discussion and soul-searching in the wake of the first attempts at human genome editing in 2015, the world of human embryo research now faces another controversial breakthrough. Two groups of researchers, including several Cambridge scientists, have grown human embryos in culture for an unprecedented 13 days. The researchers were

The Rise of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Rebecca Richmond-Smith investigates the new kid on the block in medical research. THE GENERATION of induced pluripotent stem cells is circumnavigating ethical issues normally associated with the production of embryonic stem cells while allowing innovative research. These ethical issues are to do with when the onset of human personhood is. The reprogramming of somatic cells to produce induced pluripotent stem cells avoids the ethical problems specific to embryonic stem cell research.

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

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