In a disease outbreak, the exact strain of bacteria or virus can remain a mystery for weeks, preventing patients from receiving the most effective treatment and letting the illness spread. Now, more precise diagnostic tools are helping to quickly identify the right therapy, an approach that could be particularly valuable in treating a disease that kills 1.8 million people a year - tuberculosis.
Sharing data between researchers is speeding up the discovery of treatments for rare diseases but is too often an afterthought and needs to be encouraged through the way funding is structured, according to Professor Hanns Lochmüller from Newcastle University, UK. He chairs the interdisciplinary committee of the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC), which was set up to increase collaboration in the area.
Whether it is by heating up tumour cells so they are more susceptible to cancer drugs, or by showing researchers exactly which molecules can stop cancer growing, tiny gold nanoparticles are opening up new avenues in the fight against the disease.
When radioactive materials were first introduced into society, it took a while before scientists understood the risks. The same is true of nanotechnology today, according to Dr Vladimir Baulin, from University Rovira i Virgili, in Tarragona, Spain, who together with colleagues has shown for the first time how nanoparticles can cross biological - or lipid - membranes in a paper published in the journal Science Advances.
Future human labourers could wear sensors that talk to their robot co-workers.
A digital personal assistant plans to help migrants integrate.
Better treatments are needed to help those suffering from rare diseases, says Dr Daria Julkowska.