The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top three news stories are male contraceptives, bacterial hibernation, and puppy personalities.

Article written by Rosie Pike.

No need for the snip?

For those men wishing to use contraception but think getting a vasectomy seems a bit too invasive or permanent, a new option could be available soon! Successful trials in primates have been conducted using Vasalgel. The gel is injected into the Vas Deferens, the tube through which sperm travels, and this provides an effective barrier. The high level of similarity between the monkey and human male reproductive system gives scientists hope that the contraceptive method will be as effective in humans, and provide an advancement in male contraception that has not been seen for decades.

sperm

Image: Man fights with sperm

Sleeping to survive

A new discovery about how bacteria can evade antibiotics has uncovered a new challenge in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Previously it was shown that bacteria could enter a dormant state during antibiotic treatment, so theoretically if treated for long enough, the bacteria could be killed when it ‘woke up’. However, bacteria that are able to develop this dormancy mechanism (known as tolerance) are also able to evolve resistance to antibiotics at a rate 20x faster than normal. This is thought to be driven by the acquisition of a number of mutations required to gain tolerance. These mutations act as a step towards the later development of resistance factors. This research provides an understanding of how new antibiotics could be made more effective, by targeting tolerant bacteria.

bacteria

Image: Bacteria are fighting back

Like owner, like dog

Recent work conducted in Austria has shown that dogs do in fact take on the personality of their owners, and to an extent vice versa. The study involved over 100 owners and their dogs and these were tested for several biological functions, looking at the response to stress. The tests included measuring heart rate and cortisol levels, known as ‘the stress hormone’. Along with personality tests, this data revealed that dogs are aware of their owner’s emotional states and may mirror these. Conversely, a dog that is more relaxed can help their owner cope with stress better. Dogs and humans can be considered as ‘social diads’, which influence each other’s emotions. So please dog owners, think about your pooch’s mental health as well as your own!

dogs

Image: Best buddies

Article written by Rosie Pike