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Life Sciences headlines

How did life begin?

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Dr Dominic Papineau (UCL Earth Sciences & the London Centre for Nanotechnology) discusses his discovery of the oldest fossil evidence of life on Earth and Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) talks about evidence for life first beginning in active hydrothermal vents. Listen: BBC Radio 5 Live 'Science' (from the start)

Ancestry.com denies exploiting users' DNA

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Honorary researcher, Debbie Kennett (UCL Life Sciences), welcomes the building of a large, global DNA database for genealogy purposes as a DNA test on its own doesn't tell you anything at all. Read: BBC News, Listen: BBC Radio 4 'You and Yours' (from 18 mins, 10 secs)

Origins of the human spine revealed

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A study co-authored by Professor Fred Spoor (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has discovered that the world's oldest known child who lived 3.3 million years ago had a human-like spine, showing it evolved much earlier than previously believed. Read: Mail Online, More: Mirror

How to stop period pain

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Dr Brian King (UCL Biosciences) comments on how hot water bottles can relieve pain. Read: Huffington Post

Key to infertility in older women is revealed

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Researchers from UCL Life Sciences found that insufficient levels of the protein securin may help explain why older women have higher incidences of miscarriage and other complications. Read: Mail Online

Ancient-genome study finds Bronze Age ‘Beaker culture’ invaded Britain

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Dr Marc Vander Linden (UCL Archaeology) and Dr Garrett Hellenthal (UCL Genetics Institute) comment on findings from a large genetic study suggesting Britain's Neolithic farmers were displaced by individuals connected to Beaker pots. Read: Nature, More: The Guardian

Invasive 'alien' species represent a massive threat to our animals and plants

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Professor Tim Blackburn (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains that denialism in science is not new, but its growth in the context of invasive species is especially worrying for people trying to conserve unique native biodiversity. Read: The Independent

Can knowing your genetic make-up lead to a healthier life?

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Dr Jess Buxton (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains why the amount of useful information that personalised health tests can offer is currently very limited. Read: BBC News

Small-brained early human lived more recently than expected

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Professor Fred Spoor (Cell & Developmental Biology) explains that although H. naledi’s morphology looks old, the context in which the fossils were found and the extent of their fossilisation shows that they are relatively young. Read: Nature, More: New Scientist

Why do we have males and females?

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Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains why male and female organisms exist and why they have sex. Listen: BBC World Service CrowdScience (from 4 mins 30 secs)

The energy generators inside our cells reach a sizzling 50°C

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Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says the discovery that the insides of our cells can reach a scorching 50°C makes sense when you consider mitochondria are the main sources of heat, and they have to be hotter than the rest of the body. Read: New Scientist

Electrode can tell you if a baby is really experiencing pain

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Dr Lorenzo Fabrizi (UCL Biosciences) comments on new research suggesting that detecting brain signals could be a more reliable way to tell if babies are in pain. Read: New Scientist

Drones listen in on bats to reveal their in-flight secrets

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Professor Kate Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says that little known about what bats get up to high in the air and using drones like this could give us clues, providing the bats don't fly away from them. Read: New Scientist

Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists expand into UK and Israel

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Professor John O'Keefe (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) will be part of a scientific advisory council that will be nominating candidates for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists. Read: THE

Colourful, creative and close up: Wellcome Images 2017

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The winners of the 2017 Wellcome Image Awards include Dr Gabriel Galea (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), Ingrid Leek and Professor Steve Wilson (UCL Biosciences), and Susan Smart (UCL Health Creatives). Read: BBC News, More: The Guardian, UCL News

Metabolism may be older than life itself and start spontaneously

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Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on a study finding that the Krebs cycle can proceed in the absence of enzymes. Read: New Scientist (£)

Survival of bumblebee families improved by flowers

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Dr Seirian Sumner (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on her new study finding that flower-rich habitats are key to enhancing the survival of bumblebee families. Read: Daily Mail, More: UCL News

Prize for cracking brain's 'feel good' system

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Professor Peter Dayan (UCL Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit) and Professor Ray Dolan (UCL Max Planck Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research) are two of the three winners of the The Brain Prize for 2017, worth €1m, for their analysis of how the brain recognises and processes reward. Read: BBC News, More: The Guardian, BBC News at Six, BBC World Service 'Newshour' (from 38 mins 40 secs)Reuters, Evening Standard, i News, New Scientist, The Guardian (2), The Telegraph, The Times (£), Daily MailUCL News

Scientists find a new story to tell about the origins of life

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The views of Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) on the origins of life on Earth are mentioned in an article discussing the UCL study finding the world's oldest fossil. Read: Financial Times

Girl with rare brain disorder in pioneering UCL stem cell research

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Dr Apostolos Papandreou (UCL/MRC Lab for Molecular Cell Biology) is leading a clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for a rare disorder called beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration. Read: Evening Standard

University attacked for link to centre that hosted MMR cheat

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Professor emeritus David Colquhoun (UCL Biosciences) is quoted criticising the one institute in the UK that can issue bachelor of science degrees in homeopathy. Read: The Times (£)

Invasive species blamed as second biggest cause of extinctions

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Professor Tim Blackburn (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) is interviewed about his new study finding that the number of alien species is increasing globally and does not show any sign of saturation. Listen: BBC World Service 'Science in Action' (from 20 mins 54 secs), More: New Scientist (£), UCL News

Would you take a new £1,300 DNA test that could save your life?

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Professor emeritus Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) weighs in on how much the results of a commercially-available DNA test can be trusted, and whether they're beneficial for public heath. Read: The Telegraph

5 medical marvels introduced by 3D-printing

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Professor Simon Gaisford (UCL School of Pharmacy) comments on how 3D-printing could speed up the provision of pharmaceuticals. Read: Daily Mail

I’ve got news for Mike Pence and his view on evolution

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Professor emeritus Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) writes about evolution, and his new book on the subject. Read: Evening Standard

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