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Life Sciences headlines

Building bigger brains

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A new study co-authored by Professor Judith Mank (UCL Biosciences) has found that a single gene called Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) drives brain size and intelligence in fish. Read: Guardian, More: UCL News

Extremophiles

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Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) joins a discussion on extremophiles and explains the work of Carl Woese. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’ (from 4 mins 54 secs)

What do rats dream of?

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New research by Dr Hugo Spiers (UCL Experimental Psychology), Dr Freyja Ólafsdóttir and Dr Caswell Barry (both UCL Biosciences) has found that when rats rest, their brains simulate journeys to a desired future such as a tasty treat. Read: Daily Mail, More: New Scientist, Belfast Telegraph, Discover, Metro, Huffington Post, Yahoo News, UCL News, Listen: BBC World Service 'Science in Action' (from 20 mins 4 secs)

Cancer drug lengthens fly lifespan

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Adult fruit flies given a cancer drug live 12% longer than average, according to a study led by the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing. Read: Nature, More: Daily Express, UCL News

The Life Scientific: Kate Jones

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Professor Kate Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) discusses her research on bats. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘The Life Scientific’

Don't like your pills? Just turn them into dinosaur sweets

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A team from UCL's School of Pharmacy have been experimenting with 3D printing to produce small numbers of specialist tablets at a fraction of the cost of a drugs company's typical mass-production run. Read: Daily Mail

What's it like for women in science?

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Female scientists from across UCL discuss their experiences in the field and why they chose science. Read: BBC News

Milk digestion's 'more recent rise'

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Computer modelling work by Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) has placed the genetic ability to digest lactose to the Middle Neolithic period. Read: BBC News

75-million-year-old dinosaur blood and collagen discovered in fossil fragments

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Dr Anjali Goswami (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) said that if dinosaur soft tissues were found in many more fossils, it could have a transformative effect on research. Read: Guardian

Sir Tim Hunt comments

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on remarks made by Nobel Prize winner, Sir Tim Hunt. Read: Daily Mail

Immunotherapy drugs and melanoma

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Professor David Taylor (UCL Pharmacy) explains the significance of new trial findings into the use of immunotherapy drugs to shrink melanomas. Listen: BBC London 94.9 ‘Vanessa Feltz’ (from 18 mins 27 secs), More: BBC Radio 5 live ‘5 live Daily’ (from 21 mins 35 secs)

The middle Pliocene gets crowded

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Professor Fred Spoor (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) explains why newly discovered hominin fossils suggest that species diversity may have been as high during early human evolution as in later periods. Read: Nature

MPs call for police inquiry into bogus 'cancer cures’

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Commenting on video footage obtained from the Spirit of Health Congress, Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) said: “They are selling fake cures that will not only fail to cure cancer, but that will endanger the health of anyone who uses them”. Read: Telegraph

The Business of Genetic Ancestry

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Professor Mark Thomas and Debbie Kennett (both UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explore the scientific lines some genetic ancestry companies cross, when they provide people with stories about their ancient ancestors. Listen: BBC Radio 4 'The Business of Genetic Ancestry', Read: Guardian

Stone tool discovery pushes back dawn of culture by 700,000 years

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Professor Fred Spoor (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) says the discovery of the oldest known stone tools is “a very important find” and that he is impressed by the quality of the evidence. Read: Guardian, More: Wall Street Journal

What rats in a maze can teach us about our sense of direction

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PhD student Francis Carpenter and Dr Caswell Barry (both UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) explain how the brain joins local maps together into a single, overarching map when we figure out how places connect geographically. Read: The Conversation

Prince Charles’s letters reveal the extent of his lobbying for dangerous ‘alternative medicine’

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on the publication of Prince Charles’ ‘spider letters’ and specifically his correspondence on alternative medicine. Read: Spectator

Microbes found at bottom of ocean are our long-lost relatives

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Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains that although we’re getting closer to an archaeal ancestor of the eukaryotes, we can’t call the newly discovered Lokiarchaea a missing link. Read: New Scientist

Genes in a bottle: why DNA testing is the new frontier in health and fitness

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Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on the range of personalised DNA testing kits available, saying we could “argue the rights and wrongs of such companies but I suspect that ship has sailed”. Read: Evening Standard

The Vital Question

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Discussing his new book, Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explores the link between energy and the origin of life. Read: Guardian, More: Telegraph, Sunday Times, Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘Start the Week’ (from 1 min)

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri

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Commenting on his work translating the Oxyrhynchus papyri, Professor Vivian Nutton (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) said: “It is the largest single collection of medical papyri to be published”. Read: Daily Mail

Patrick Matthew

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Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) discusses whether horticulturist Patrick Matthew should have more recognition for his contribution to the theory of natural selection. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ (from 2 hours 55 mins)

Spotlight on cancer research

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Professor Nicholas Luscombe (UCL Genetics Institute) says computer scientists working in genomics need at least a basic understanding of biology. Read: Nature

Could you track down your doppelganger?

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Dr Garrett Hellenthal (UCL Genetics Institute) doubts it is possible to calculate the probability of finding your doppelganger. Read: Telegraph

How men compete when donating cash to attractive women

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New research co-authored by Dr Nichola Raihani (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) and the University of Bristol has found that men give more money through fundraising websites after seeing that other men have donated large amounts and when the fundraiser is an attractive woman. Read: Guardian, More: Independent, BBC News, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Times (£), Guardian (2), Huffington Post, The Conversation, Belfast Telegraph, TIME, LA Times, Washington Post, The Australian (£), New Zealand Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, UCL News, Listen: BBC Radio 5 live '5 live Science' (from 27 mins 23 secs)

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