The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top stories include eliminating malaria, selfies from an asteroid and the latest Nobel Prize winner.
By Maia Rowe-Sampson
Gene engineering could drive extinction of Malaria-carrying mosquitos
Researchers at Imperial College London published data in Nature Biotechnology, harnessing the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool to potentially wipe out female Anopheles gambiae, the vector for Malaria. These species of mosquito carry the doublesex gene, which is responsible for determining their sex.
Disruption of this gene led to an intersex phenotype in female mosquitos and total sterility. Within 7-11 generations, all female mosquitos carrying this mutated gene were driven to extinction. Although this was a small-scale study, it represents a viable solution for the Malaria epidemic.
Read more about this study here.
Selfies from space!
Three years ago, Japan sent their Hayabusa2 spacecraft towards the near-Earth asteroid, Ryugu. After a failed attempt in 2005, last week, two small rovers were released from the spacecraft towards the asteroid. The rovers are sending back images and data to Earth and the images suggest that at least one of the rovers is roaming over the surface.
Since the gravity on Ryugu is so weak, the rovers are designed to hop over the surface and each hop leaves them airborne for 15 minutes. The first images are blurry as the rovers were still moving, but the researchers hope to keep collecting further data for analysis.
Have a look at these pictures here!
Cancer immunotherapy wins the Nobel Prize
James Allison from MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston and Tasuku Honjo from Kyoto University in Japan have been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their contributions to the development of cancer immunotherapy.
Unlike all previous therapies, immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Since 2015, cancer immunotherapy has emerged as a new field of study and numerous drugs are now on the market using the technology. Treatments can be very effective and are less toxic than traditional anti-cancer drugs, allowing patients to have a much better quality of life during treatment.
Both researchers found, in parallel, proteins which can act like ‘brakes’ on the immune system with different mechanisms of action. By regulating their individual roles in the immune system, they could potentially be ‘released’ and used to direct immune cells to attack tumours and cancerous cells.
Read more about this story here!