Vaccine patch may mean the end of needles

microneedle patch administers vaccine
Vaccine patch with hyaluronic acid microneedles. Image from Hirobe et al, 2015.

No one likes needles. Now there’s another option. A group of scientists in Japan have found that a vaccine patch with microneedles called MicroHyala works as well as a traditional injected influenza vaccine.  Continue reading “Vaccine patch may mean the end of needles”

DNA damage helps form memories

DNA used to encode cellular memory

Our DNA becomes more damaged as we age and some scientists believe that this causes ageing. We have inbuilt DNA repair systems in every cell, but these systems can break down as we age leading to increased DNA damage. Mutations in genes responsible for DNA repair can cause premature ageing like in Werner’s Disease. So up until now DNA damage has been seen to be a bad thing. Now a new study shows that DNA breaks in neurons (brain cells) actually helps us form memories.  Continue reading “DNA damage helps form memories”

Ageing reversed in old skin cells

gene expression in single cells
Fibroblast cell. Image by Heiti Paves via Wikimedia Commons.

Scientists have reversed ageing in skin cells taken from people who are 80-97 years old. The trick was to turn the skin cells into stem cells and then back into skin cells. This re-programmed the cells and reversed age-related changes allowing the skin cells to make energy more efficiently.  Continue reading “Ageing reversed in old skin cells”

How DNA is read: Future

gene expression in single cells
Fibroblast cell. Image by Heiti Paves via Wikimedia Commons.

In my novel, Thirty, people have an annual health scan that reads the levels of their genes and corrects these to normal levels so that they can stay young and healthy forever.

Unfortunately real science hasn’t yet caught up. We are, however, one step closer because it is now possible to measure gene expression in cells by looking at them.  Continue reading “How DNA is read: Future”

CRISPR used in human embryos

CRISPR used to treat human embryos
Image from Wikipedia

Gene therapy, considered by many to be the holy grail of medicine, involves editing disease-causing mutations out of genes to prevent diseases. CRISPR is a new way to edit genes that has been used to stop mice from developing many different diseases including muscular dystrophy, liver disease and cataracts. It has also been used to treat human cells collected from patients and grown in the lab.  Continue reading “CRISPR used in human embryos”

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