Tiny pieces of plastic, now ubiquitous in the marine environment, have long been a cause of concern for their ability to absorb toxic substances and potentially penetrate the food chain. Now scientists are beginning to understand the level of threat posed to life, by gauging the extent of marine accumulation and tracking the movement of these contaminants.
Testing the safety of medicines and chemicals on organ-like structures developed from various types of stem cells could reduce the reliance on animal testing and streamline chemical and drug development, according to scientists in the Netherlands who are in the early stages of developing such technology.
An air quality study has for the first time detected nano-sized particles of air pollution in children’s urine. With a diameter of just 100 nanometers - a thousandth of the width of a human hair - these ultrafine particles are the smallest particles found in air pollution and have been linked to heart disease and respiratory conditions in previous studies.
There are many rare genetic diseases that strike perhaps only one in a million people. Often incurable, they can be profoundly debilitating and frequently life-threatening. Though each particular disease is rare, they number in the thousands – which means that together they affect about 30 million Europeans or around 7% of us. Treating these diseases is challenging and until recently, no cure was thought to be even possible for most of them. Now, hopes are rising for people living with rare genetic diseases as new treatments are being developed.
Twinges. Painful teeth. About one in 10 people suffer from dental sensitivity caused by worn enamel. But rather than providing short-term solutions like special toothpastes or fillings, new techniques could print whole new layers of enamel onto teeth – or even stimulate the body to grow new ones.
An audit committee that reviews deaths during childbirth and works out how to avoid them has won its founders the €1 million EU Horizon Birth Day prize for a solution that saves the lives of mothers and their babies.
Winners from Germany and Canada take home top prizes.
New observations may provide alternative explanations for dark energy.
We need to double-check the evidence on dark energy, as it may not exist at all, says Prof. Subir Sarkar.