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Life Sciences headlines

Manipulating metabolism

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Dr Nazif Alic (UCL Biosciences) examines if tweaking some of the genes involved in metabolic signalling could help to prolong healthy lifespan and if it could help us live forever. Listen: Naked Scientists

Killer in the brain could help treat Parkinson's

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A team led by Dr Soledad Galli (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has found that the death of synapses in mice may be due to malfunctioning proteins called Wnt proteins, a discovery which could lead to new treatments for Parkinson’s disease. Read: New Scientist

New viruses 'killing amphibians' in Spain

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Research led by Dr Stephen Price (UCL Genetics Institute) has found a number of closely related viruses causing severe disease and mass deaths in many amphibian species in northern Spain. Read: BBC News, More: Independent, New Scientist, UCL News, Listen: Naked Scientists, More: BBC Radio 2 'Chris Evans Breakfast Show' (from 2 hours 32 mins), BBC Radio Newcastle 'Breakfast' (from 2 hours 3 mins), BBC Radio Devon 'Breakfast' (from 1 hour 35 mins)

Curing cancer

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Documentary following four UCLH patients as they take part in advanced cancer treatment trials - from the labs of the UCL Cancer Institute to the wards of UCLH. Watch: Channel 4, Read: UCL News

Social prescribing

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Dr Helen Chatterjee (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains what ‘social prescribing’ is and why it is being recommended by doctors. Watch: BBC 1 South ‘Inside Out’ (from 24 mins 47m secs)

Whose conservation?

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Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains that because conservation biology is a mission-driven discipline, it is therefore subject to both drift and the periodic adoption of fads and fashions. Read: Science (£)

Keep UK borders open to future Nobel laureates

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Professor John O’Keefe (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) describes Britain’s visa system as a significant obstacle to Britain recruiting the best scientists from abroad. Read: BBC News, More: Financial Times, Independent, Yorkshire Post, Express & Star, Belfast Telegraph, Shropshire Star, Dundee Courier, New York Times, Listen: BBC Radio 4 'Today' (from 2 hours 7 mins)

Nobel Prize for the brain's GPS discovery

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Professor John O'Keefe (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain - an ‘inner GPS’ - that enables us to orient ourselves. Read: BBC News, Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mail, Times (£), Guardian, ITV News, Financial Times, The Economist, THE, New Scientist, The Conversation, The Week, Scotsman, Nature, Science, Huffington Post, TIME, Forbes, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, National Post, The Australian, Times of India, UCL News. More: Comprehensive list of coverage

BBSRC unveils £125 million for doctoral training

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UCL will receive part of a £125 million grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to fund doctoral training partnerships in the biosciences. Read: THE, More: Yahoo News, UCL News

Collaborative research gets a health check

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Professor Buzz Baum (UCL/MRC Lab for Molecular Cell Biology) explains why the current system for recognising individuals' efforts and achievements in science is often not fair to people working in teams. Read: Lancet

Newcastle boy who can go stiff when scared starts school

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Professor Robert Harvey (UCL Pharmacology) says the number of people affected by Hyperekplexia is unknown and some cases can be misdiagnosed as epilepsy. Read: BBC News

Scientists warn of court DNA risks

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Professor David Balding (UCL Genetics Institute) says a pattern of “hostility to scientific evidence” among judges is especially worrying given that such evidence is playing an increasingly decisive role in courts. Read: Times (£)

The teens so addicted to exercise they're wrecking their health

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Dr Angel Chater (UCL Practice & Policy) comments on the increasing risk of ‘exercise dependency’ in teenagers. Read: Daily Mail

Meet your maker: Homing in on the ancestor of all life

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A study led by Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) and Victor Sojo (UCL CoMPLEX/Biosciences) suggests that life’s Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) had a ‘leaky’ membrane, which can offer clues as to how humans and other life evolved and grew. Read: Daily Mail, More: New Scientist (£), International Business Times, UCL News Listen: The Naked Scientists

Creepy crawlies decline as human population soars

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A study co-authored by Dr Ben Collen (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) has found that invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% over the past 35 years, a period in which the human population has doubled. Read: Telegraph, More: Independent, Daily Mail, Herald, Times of India, New Zealand Herald, Straits Times (£), UCL News

Red hair is here to stay - 'extinction of the ginger gene' story is just bad science

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UCL Honorary Professor Debbie Kennett follows in the path of Professors David Balding and Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics) by debunking the promises of simple interpretations of DNA and ancestry. Read: Guardian

Same genes 'drive maths and reading ability'

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Research led by Dr Oliver Davis (UCL Genetics) finds that around half of the genes that influence a child's aptitude for reading also play a role in how easily they learn maths, suggesting that hundreds of subtle DNA changes in genes combine to help shape a child's performance in both. Read: Guardian, More: BBC NewsTelegraphTimes (£), TES, UCL News

Cancer breakthrough as scientists discover how cells spread

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A study led by Professor Roberto Mayor (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has uncovered insights into how cells move through the body, which could lead to innovative techniques to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours. Read: Daily Mail, More: UCL News

Antibiotic resistance

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Professor Peter Taylor (UCL Pharmaceutics) explains how no new classes of antibiotics have come on to the market for 25 years and how the use of antibiotics engenders resistance. Read: BBC News, Listen: BBC Radio 5 Live ‘Wake up to Money’ (from 34 mins 30 secs), More: BBC Radio Newcastle ‘Breakfast’ (from 19 mins 36 secs), BBC Radio Kent ‘Breakfast’ (from 1 hour 14 mins)

Sunbathing mice? This kind of silly research is harmful

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Dr Clare Stanford (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) criticises a recent study which claims that mice become addicted to sunbathing, explaining how studies that appear frivolous or unethical can undermine public support for using animals in serious medical research. Read: The Times (£)

Sunbathing 'may be addictive' warning

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Dr Clare Stanford (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on a new study showing that repeated UV exposure led to 'addiction' in mice. Read: BBC News, More: Telegraph, Daily Express, TimesThe Australian, Huffington Post, Evening Standard

Unlocking the secrets of regeneration

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Research led by Dr Max Yun (UCL Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology) has identified a biological pathway that must be constantly active for salamander cells to regenerate. Read: Daily Mail, More: Business Standard, Yahoo News UK, Belfast TelegraphITV, Fox News, The ConversationUCL News

Closed minds: the media and animal research

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As many researchers commit to greater openness regarding the use of animals in research, Adrian Deeny (UCL Biological Sciences) discusses the need for responsible press reporting on the subject. Read: THE

Sat-navs dull the mind: Brain is less active when we blindly follow directions

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Work led by Dr Hugo Spiers (UCL Behavioural Neuroscience) finds that how we navigate from A to B is controlled by two brain regions which track the distance to our destination. Read: Daily Mail, More: NPR, Wellcome Trust

New drugs may help patients to cure themselves

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Dr Sergio Quezada (UCL Research Department of Haematology) comments the possibilities of new immunotherapy treatments for cancer which use the body’s own immune system. Read: The Times, More: The Australian (£)

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