Bats live for longer than their body size suggests, up to twenty times longer. In August, we hear how profiling their DNA is giving researchers clues about how to extend human life.
It’s part of a special focus on ageing where we learn how manipulating mitochondria, the microscopic power houses in our cells, could help us live for longer, and find out how gene damage inherited from our grandparents can affect the way we age.
We also learn about the researchers who are making vaccines that turn our immune systems against proteins caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s, and find out about the smart mirrors that can warn doctors if an elderly person isn’t feeling right.
Scientists have worked out how to make our immune systems turn against proteins linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, offering the possibility of stopping and even reversing the effects of these devastating conditions.
With around half a million species of insects reported to be at risk of extinction and studies already showing a large decline in abundance, this month Horizon looks at what reduced insect biodiversity means for us – and what we can do about it. We speak to rove beetle expert Dr Alexey Solodovnikov about the services insects provide, from waste disposal and pollination to monitoring climate change and providing information about a new pandemic. We find out how scientists hope to cut the use of pesticides – one of the big culprits for reducing insect diversity – with new ways of pest control. We look at how efforts to boost urban green space in Europe’s cities is impacting insect life and we ask whether people’s attitudes to insects affect conservation efforts.
The coronavirus pandemic rattled our supply chains, putting them under intense pressure and forcing many to become aware of these complex systems that bring us food, medicine and other goods. Was 2020 a wake-up call to rethink supply chains? Or have they proved more robust than we feared and should continue as business as usual? In February, we ask whether today’s supply chains are due for reconfiguration. We speak to Dr Tessa Avermaete, a bioeconomist at KU Leuven in Belgium, about why short and local is not always better – or more sustainable – when it comes to food supply. We look at how medical supply chains can be maintained or even set up during a crisis situation, and at the environmental and social impacts of Europe’s supply chains on the rest of the world. And we look at how, in the future, goods from food to furniture could be transported according to new concept called the ‘physical internet’, where logistics mimics how information travels through the internet.
Insects are vital to the health of our planet but they can also reveal a lot about climate change and help us fight future vector-borne disease outbreaks, says Alexey Solodovnikov, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who runs the rove beetle-dedicated Solodovnikov Lab and is a curator at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
The earliest signs of alkaptonuria are often subtle and harmless, like a diaper stained black. However, over the years, this rare genetic disease can lead to a lifetime of surgery. Now, after 20 years of research, a not-so-new drug can offer relief for thousands of patients worldwide.
Dr Alexey Solodovnikov on why we need a less biased view of the animal kingdom.
Nitisinone approval brings relief for people with alkaptonuria.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.