One Step Closer to Cyborgs: The development of artificial nerves

by Anqi Zhang figures by Daniel Utter Have you ever met anyone with only one leg or arm? I bet you have. An estimated 185,000 people undergo amputation procedures in the US every year, with the leading cause being vascular diseases. Thanks to the advances in medical devices, some of the functionalities of the lost limbs can be restored by artificial arms or legs, or … Continue reading One Step Closer to Cyborgs: The development of artificial nerves

World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan started a clinical trial this month to treat Parkinson’s disease with reprogrammed stem cells. This follows the successful restoration of brain cell function in monkeys using these stem cells reported last year. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of a specific type of neuron in the brain, called dopaminergic neurons, which make the essential neurotransmitter dopamine. The reduced … Continue reading World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

The Mysterious Fear Learner: The locus coeruleus

by Mona Han figures by Mona Han and Daniel Utter In the 19th century, Pavlov, a Russian scientist, electrically shocked dogs’ feet while ringing a bell. He found that his dogs quickly learned to dread the sound of his bell. We now think that learning to fear an innocuous stimulus, like the bell, is what underlies Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD patients dread things associated … Continue reading The Mysterious Fear Learner: The locus coeruleus

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: How tomato plants cause cannibalism

by Katherine Wu Herbivores, beware: the humble tomato plant has a trick up its sleeve. When under attack by pests such as caterpillars, plants can goad their predators into selecting another meal: each other. In a study published in July 2017 in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a team of scientists led by Dr. John Orrock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrated for the first time … Continue reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower: How tomato plants cause cannibalism

How to Talk to Your Plants: Using LEDs to grow better crops

by Andrew McAllister Plants are terrible listeners. I’ve told the plants on my windowsill, “Grow taller, grow faster! Make more delicious leaves for me to put in my food!”, but they just grow in the same slow way they’ve been doing since I bought them. Farmers and florists share my pain, but on a larger scale. Sometimes, no matter what you do the squash isn’t … Continue reading How to Talk to Your Plants: Using LEDs to grow better crops

Cell Fate

As humans, we are aware that we are committed to a certain fate: we are born, we live, and we inevitably die. We are less aware that each of the trillion cells in our bodies also have a fate of their own, and everyday each cell has to decide whether to give birth, live, or die. Not all cells can give “birth” (aka, divide via … Continue reading Cell Fate

You Asked: Why don’t sheep shrink in the rain?

by Katherine Wu Everyone remembers their first. Their first wool sock lost to the treacherous waters of the washing machine, that is. Wool clothing shrinks when it’s wet – so shouldn’t sheep, which are covered in the same material, shrivel up after torrential downpour? Yes – and just like your sweaters, the simple household trick of soaking sheep in conditioner and stretching them back out … Continue reading You Asked: Why don’t sheep shrink in the rain?

Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

by Francesca Tomasi figures by Aparna Nathan Too Much of a Good Thing? Ninety years ago, Alexander Fleming happened upon the chemical compound penicillin and sparked a medical revolution. It was a serendipitous occasion – Fleming had been growing plates of bacteria in his lab when he noticed some mold growing on one of them. Just some classic contamination, he probably thought, ready to discard … Continue reading Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

Central Dogma

Our bodies contain numerous cell types that look drastically different and perform various functions that allow us to eat, breathe, move, and reproduce. While all cells have the same DNA as a “blueprint”, their working set of proteins can vary drastically. The process of making protein from DNA is known as the “central dogma”. However, it is not a linear step, but instead requires two … Continue reading Central Dogma

A Future Cure for the Common Cold?

Early-stage research has identified a compound that stops pesky colds in their tracks – useful as a potential cold cure. Although adults are bothered by an average of 2-3 colds per year, colds can “cause serious complications in people with conditions like asthma and [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] (COPD),” lead researcher Edward Tate, Chemical Biology Professor at the Imperial College London, told ScienceDaily. “A drug … Continue reading A Future Cure for the Common Cold?