The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top stories are removing the sweetness of cancer, radioactive-resistant robot fish, and a new way to tan.

Article written by Willow Hight-Warburton.

X marks the cancer beating spot

During the battle against skin cancer, the answer has never seemed so sweet…

Research published in Cancer Cell this week has found that silencing FUT8, a glycosylation enzyme that adds the sugar fucose onto proteins, can slow the growth and spread of melanoma (a type of skin cancer) in mice.

Glycosylation (adding sugars) is thought to help cells stick to each other and prevent them from moving around the body when they are not supposed to (for example when cancers metastasise). This study showed that in skin cancer cells add fructose to proteins in an unusual way. Mouse models then demonstrated that these changes affect proteins that are linked to cell movement, like L1CAM, which can lead to more aggressive cancer type.

Excitingly, this could potentially provide a new therapeutic target in the battle against skin cancer.


Fighting cancer never tasted so sweet.


Robo-fish to fight radiation

Sometimes big things come in small packages. Collaborative work between the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) with Toshiba group has created “little sunfish”. At only 13cm in diameter, this compact robot faces a mammoth task.

The Japanese tsunami in 2011 caused a meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The devastating effects on the environment and the people who lived in the vicinity can still be seen today. In fact, the melted reactor still has total radiation exposure of 1,000 Sievert — a level that would kill a human within seconds.

To facilitate the clean-up mission, little sunfish has been designed to bravely go where no man can go; it will swim remotely into the reactor and send back valuable information to the team via a video link. This will help the team decide on the best course for radioactive waste removal.

It will be deployed this week, so good luck little one!


Here fishy fishy


Say goodbye to those awful fake tans

This weekend was the hottest of the year so if you are pale, like me, most of your time was spent cowering in the shade to avoid being burned. A radiant tan is something we can only dream of…

However, watch this space as a group in New York has created a drug that can produce a natural tan without exposing the skin to sunlight.

The drug inhibits a protein called salt-inducible kinase (SIK), triggering the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment in your skin that creates your gorgeous, glowing tan and protects your skin against UV damage. This meant that when the drug was rubbed into the skin it produced a “natural” tan.  This would also mean that you would get protection against harmful ultraviolet rays that can cause skin cancer.

Whilst further tests need to be completed to check the safety of the drug, this may offer additional protection against sun damage for people with fair skin, or those prone to burning, in the future.


Avoiding a tan in the early 20th century

Article written by Willow Hight-Warburton.