Researchers push the boundaries of medicine, warn us about future threats, and revive the distant past in the lab

Gene therapy in utero could cure rare brain disease Angelman syndrome

(James Close, BioNews, 2/25/2019)

A North Carolina neurobiologist has been researching a possible cure for Angelman syndrome, a rare genetic disease affecting the brain and nervous system. Dr. Mark Zykla from the University of North Carolina says that a possible cure lies in injecting a virus into the fetal brain that will “wake up” a key dormant gene. Using CRISPR genome editing, the disease could be prevented entirely by correcting the mutation that causes Angelman’s.

To learn more about Angelman syndrome, check out this recent Eureka blog post.

Infectious diseases projected to be no. 1 killer worldwide by 2050

(Kim Johnson and David Martin Davies, “The Source,” 2/26/2019)

Researchers and experts join Texas Public Radio hosts to discuss growing concerns regarding the rise of communicable diseases, from sexually transmitted diseases to vaccine-preventable diseases like measles. Some predict that infectious diseases will surpass heart disease as the world’s #1 killer by 2050. Panelists discuss what is being done to stop the progression of disease in the new globalized economy.

Scientists Mimic Possible Origins of Life in a Lab

(Meghan Bartels, Space.com, 2/27/2019)

NASA researchers have successfully mimicked some of the ocean conditions on primordial Earth, creating a tiny hydrothermal vest in a test tube. These conditions are a popular theory for the origins of life. Iron oxyhydroxide minerals, thought to be abundant in early oceans, could have been the precursors to the first amino acids. Effective models that can demonstrate the origins of life on Earth could also narrow down what scientists should look for to find life on other planets.

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—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker.