Parks and green spaces in cities provide health and wellness benefits to human inhabitants, but they’re not necessarily beneficial for other urban dwellers – like insects. Researchers are investigating urban biodiversity with approaches such as ‘bee hotels’ to see how cities can better foster insect life.
Professor Johan Neyts, a virologist at the Rega Institute for Medical Research at KU Leuven in Belgium, leads a team searching for drugs that can help us in the fight against Covid-19. His laboratory is part of two projects that are screening millions of compounds to find some that block the coronavirus from replicating and so keep patients from falling sick. He told Horizon about why this search is so important and how it might keep us safe from future pandemics.
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.
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.
From the possible demise of Merlot grapes in Bordeaux to loss of olive trees in north Africa, the impacts of climate change will be felt by farmers across the Mediterranean region, say climatologists.
Medical suppliers must change how they manage their supply chains, and factories need to be able to rapidly pivot to manufacturing different products, in order to respond quickly to the next major crisis and avoid shortages of vital medical goods, experts say.
Two anti-inflammatory drugs – tocilizumab and sarilumab – as well as steroids, have been identified as potential life-saving coronavirus treatments thanks to a trial set up in the wake of the 2009 swine flu pandemic that mirrors the way that people receive multiple treatments while in intensive care.
What is it like to be a bee? Or a spider? Does a crab feel pleasure or pain? Behavioural and welfare science have moved on considerably in the past 20 years, but there is still a huge amount we don’t know about how animals actually feel – or, indeed, whether they all do.
Car manufacturers are rolling out higher levels of automation but public acceptance is lagging behind.
Topography can reveal asteroid types – crucial to know for mining or deflecting Earth-bound rocks.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.