The Righteous Drug Smugglers

Of all the challenges facing the pharmaceutical treatment of brain diseases, the most fundamental is also one of the most difficult: getting drugs into the brain. Our brain comes with its own bouncer, the blood-brain barrier (BBB), so if your miracle drug is wearing the wrong shoes, chances are it won’t be let in. In … More

Gene Expression Analysis by Single Cell RNA-Seq

Analysis of gene expression is important in diagnostics as well as in understanding biological processes. The gene expression profile of cells assesses the extent to which genes are active (or not). Gene expression varies largely amongst different cell types and can be analysed on the RNA or the protein level. During gene expression, the genes … More

Spectroscopy: Showing art in its best light

Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction of light with matter. Different molecules interact with light in various different ways according to their characteristic functional groups. For example, the infrared spectrum of a molecule can be obtained if the molecule absorbs light in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. If the molecule scatters light … More

The Book of Life – Rewritten?

All life we know shares one common feature: DNA. From bacteria to humans, our genetic code is written in the same 4 chemical “letters”, the nucleotides Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G) and Cytosine (C) – at least until recently. Last month, researchers from The Scripps Research Institute in California reported that they have successfully … More

Harm Reduction

Last year saw the rise of turbo-ecstasy, pills of various guises, which were adulterated with PMA or PMMA . Whilst these compounds are related to MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) they have the potential to cause toxic effects at relatively low doses. In essence, taking two tablets of regular ecstasy (at a typical concentration) … More

Give Me Wings

From our earliest and most basic stage the most notable feature of our animal cohabitants has been their size. It is this that has inspired generations of wonder at the thought of towering dinosaurs, the romanticism of the plight of the ‘gentle giants’ that are our ever dwindling populations of baleen whales, all the way … More

Of Mice and Research

As always, over the last few weeks there has been a plethora of research and new scientific discoveries published in the literature. Perhaps one of the most surprising studies is one published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, which suggests that females are discriminated against in biomedical research. No, not human females, but our rodent friends … More

Direct Measurement of Proton Magnetic Moment

The proton is a particle composed of two u quarks and one d quark, which makes it a hadron – a particle composed of quarks bound by the strong interaction (which is mediated by gluons). Theoretically, it is composed also of virtual particles arising from the gluons splitting. The tendency of a force to rotate … More

Gravitational Blasts from the Past?

Recently, scientists have made a huge leap in finding new evidence supporting the Big Bang model. The idea behind it is that all the matter in our observable Universe originates from an explosion that took place 13.7 billion years ago, and that it has gone through several stages before reaching its current state. One ramification … More

Death and Taxes

Benjamin Franklin is attributed with saying “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Although intended as a comment on economics, it does mirror a fatalistic view of death and the insurmountability of mortality that has fascinated humanity for centuries. Yet, geneticists are probing the extent to which longevity … More

Impulsive Animals

When trying to understand where a certain feature of the human brain has emerged from in evolutionary terms, we often turn to other species in the animal kingdom to investigate it further. In a recent study, which involved collaboration of researchers across several countries, 36 different species of animals participated in tasks which test self-control … More

Modular Smartphones Have the Potential to Cut Electronic Waste

Towards the end of the last decade, recycling of electronic waste in the United States of America stood at a pitiful 13.6% . Out of 2.8 million tonnes of waste, that accounted for just over 360,000 tonnes. In terms of mobile phones, some sources believe the number of phones thrown away in the US each … More