Tuesday 01 April 1997
Britain's lead in research on global climate change is under threat, according to the Commons Science and Technology Committee. In a report published last week they said arrangements for co-ordinating research had been effective until now, but that pressure on the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Meteorological Office to become more market-orientated, and increasing pressure on NERC resources from the actions of other departments, may make it less effective in future. The committee warned that a wider range of responsibilities could see existing funds "spread more thinly and less effectively".
Still preliminary, but some new work on monkeys suggests that tiny capsules planted in the brain might fend off the disabling symptoms of Huntington's disease. The capsules pump out a substance that protects brain cells from the effects of the gene-linked disease, whose symptoms - such as problems with concentration, memory and then co-ordination - start appearing between the ages of 30 and 45. Work published in last week's Nature suggests that the capsules, which pump out a naturally occurring brain chemical called ciliary neurotrophic factor, help the survival of brain cells. A study on people will begin later this year to see if the capsules are safe.
Up, up and away: four rockets were launched last week and one is due to be launched today to study Comet Hale-Bopp, which is getting astronomers very excited indeed. Over the next two weeks the sub-orbital rockets will go up as far as 385 kilometres up and collect data about the comet's composition, including gas emissions and dust particles, which might give useful clues to its age and origin. "It's like a time machine going back 4.5 billion years," said Alan Hale, one of its discoverers, as he watched the first launches. Analysing the data could take several months.
Suspicion has been growing, and will be strengthened by recent findings, that a virus plays an important part in multiple sclerosis (MS). Danish researchers last week said a common type of herpes virus could be to blame. They were studying a cluster of eight people with MS living in a village of 74 families. The MS victims all went to the same elementary school for seven years, all had been scouts and four were related. Writing in The Lancet, they said this strengthened the theory that a virus might be to blame, and nominated Epstein-Barr virus - the herpes virus that causes glandular fever. MS is an incurable auto-immune disease, in which the body attacks the insulating myelin sheath around nerves in the brain and spinal cord. "Our group has previously put forward a dual infection hypothesis for MS, suggesting that infection with a more or less widespread MS retrovirus is a pre-requisite for development of MS, but MS develops only or especially in those who are infected with Epstein-Barr virus around puberty or later in life and who are genetically susceptible," they wrote. They are now testing the other villagers to see if they were infected with the virusn
Life & Style blogs
Blood test that predicts Alzheimer's disease
Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
Lego told off by 7-year-old girl for promoting gender stereotypes
Apple iOS 7.1 update: Boxes are out, circles are in; CarPlay support and no more random resets
Titanfall: Release date, gameplay basics, DLC and everything else you need to know
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
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