Chinese scientists cloned monkeys !
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Chinese scientists cloned monkeys !

Chinese scientists have cloned monkeys using the same technique that produced Dolly the sheep two decades ago, breaking a technical barrier that could open the door to copying humans.Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, two identical long-tailed macaques, were born eight and six weeks ago, making them the first primates — the order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes and humans — to be cloned from a non-embryonic cell. It was achieved through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which involves transferring the nucleus of a cell, which includes its DNA, into an egg which has had its nucleus removed. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai said their work should be a boon to medical research by making it possible to study diseases in populations of genetically uniform monkeys.But it also brings the feasibility of cloning to the doorstep of our own species. “Humans are primates. So (for) the cloning of primate species, including humans, the technical barrier is now broken,” Muming Poo, who helped supervise the programme at the institute, told reporters in a conference call.
At human cloning doorstep
  • The two identical long-tailed macaques were born eight and six weeks ago, making them the first primates to be cloned from a non-embryonic cell
  • It was achieved through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer — transferring the nucleus of a cell, which includes its DNA, into an egg which has had its nucleus removed
“The reason ... we broke this barrier is to produce animal models that are useful for medicine, for human health. There is no intention to apply this method to humans.” Genetically identical animals are useful in research because confounding factors caused by genetic variability in non-cloned animals can complicate experiments. They could be used to test new drugs for a range of diseases before clinical use.The two newborns are now being bottle fed and are growing normally. The researchers said they expect more macaque clones to be born over the coming months. Since Dolly — cloning’s poster child - was born in Scotland in 1996, scientists have successfully used SCNT to clone more than 20 other species, including cows, pigs, dogs, rabbits, rats and mice.Similar work in primates, however, had always failed, leading some experts to wonder if primates were resistant. The new research, published on Wednesday in the journal Cell, shows that is not the case. The Chinese team succeeded, after many attempts, by using modulators to switch on or off certain genes that were inhibiting embryo development.Even so, their success rate was extremely low and the technique worked only when nuclei were transferred from foetal cells, rather than adult ones, as was the case with Dolly. In all, it took 127 eggs to produce two live macaque births. “It remains a very inefficient and hazardous procedure,” said Robin Lovell-Badge, a cloning expert at the Francis Crick Institute in London, who was not involved in the Chinese work.“The work in this paper is not a stepping-stone to establishing methods for obtaining live born human clones. This clearly remains a very foolish thing to attempt.” The research underscores China’s increasingly important role at the cutting-edge of biosciences, where its scientists have at times pushed ethical boundaries.Three years ago, for example, researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou caused a furor when they reported carrying out the first experiment to edit the DNA of human embryos, although similar work has now been done in the United States. Scientists at the Shanghai institute said they followed international guidelines for animal research set by the US National Institutes of Health, but called for a debate on what should or should not be acceptable practice in primate cloning.
0 0 126 26 January, 2018 Alternative, Science more
Scientists of IIT Kharagpur creates electricity out of onion skins !
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Scientists of IIT Kharagpur creates electricity out of onion skins !

According to research conducted at the institute, since onion skin was found to have piezoelectric properties, it is perfect to use in the nano-generator developed by the scientists. Additionally, onions are used in many Indian households and therefore, are a readily available source of bio-waste. If a material is piezoelectric, it means that it can generate a current when a slight pressure is applied. Nano-generators are made out of this piezoelectric material and can generate electricity to power small devices. As they are barely the width of a hair, the lightest pressure can create a current, and they convert kinetic energy into electrical energy. Usually, nanogenerators are challenging to make and may use toxic materials. This reality is what spurred scientists at IIT to create their own biodegradable, and biocompatible nanogenerator. According to a report by the Indiatimes, the implications of this breakthrough include a reduce in biowaste, and the potential to power pacemakers, smart pills, and portable devices such as watches.
0 0 188 22 December, 2017 Alternative, Science more
Stephen Hawking says, Earth will turn into fireball by 2600
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Stephen Hawking says, Earth will turn into fireball by 2600

British physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that the human race will perish on earth as growing population and massive power consumption would turn the planet into a sizzling fireball in less than 600 years. To ensure the survival of our species for another million years, humans must “boldly go where no one has gone before,” Hawking said. Our planet will turn into a ball of fire because of our soaring energy consumption as the population soars, the world renowned scientist said in a video appearance at the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing. Hawking appealed to investors to back his plans to travel to the closest star outside the solar system, with the hope that a habitable planet might be orbiting it. Alpha Centauri is one of the closest stars to our solar system, located four billion light-years away. Scientists believe that it may host planets that could foster life, just like earth. Hawking is backing Breakthrough Starshot, a venture to reach this system within two decades using a tiny aircraft that could travel at the speed of light. “Such a system could reach Mars in less than an hour, or reach Pluto in days, pass Voyager in under a week and reach Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years,” said Hawking.
0 0 381 08 November, 2017 Alternative, Science more
Avoiding unwanted thoughts could be easier now; Chemicals in brain that helps remove such thoughts identified
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Avoiding unwanted thoughts could be easier now; Chemicals in brain that helps remove such thoughts identified

Scientists have identified a key chemical in the brain that allows us to suppress unpleasant memories, a finding that may pave the way for treating patients of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or schizophrenia who experience persistent intrusive thoughts.
"Our ability to control our thoughts is fundamental to our wellbeing," said Michael Anderson from the University of Cambridge in the UK. "When this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric diseases: intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries," said Anderson. "These are all key symptoms of mental illnesses such as PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety," he said. Anderson likens our ability to intervene and stop ourselves retrieving particular memories and thoughts to stopping a physical action. A region at the front of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex is known to play a key role in controlling our actions and has more recently been shown to play a similarly important role in stopping our thoughts. The prefrontal cortex acts as a master regulator, controlling other brain regions - the motor cortex for actions and the hippocampus for memories. In the study published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists used a task known as the 'Think/No-Think' procedure to identify a significant new brain process that enables the prefrontal cortex to successfully inhibit our thoughts. In the task, participants learn to associate a series of words with a paired, but otherwise unconnected, word, for example ordeal/roach and moss/north. In the next stage, they were asked to recall the associated word if the cue is green or to suppress it if the cue is red; in other words, when shown 'ordeal' in red, they were asked to stare at the word but to stop themselves thinking about the associated thought 'roach'. Using a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the researchers were able to observe what was happening within key regions of the brain as the participants tried to inhibit their thoughts. Researchers showed that the ability to inhibit unwanted thoughts relies on a neurotransmitter - a chemical within the brain that allows messages to pass between nerve cells – known as GABA. GABA is the main 'inhibitory' neurotransmitter in the brain, and its release by one nerve cell can suppress activity in other cells to which it is connected. Researchers discovered that GABA concentrations within the hippocampus - a key area of the brain involved in memory - predict people's ability to block the retrieval process and prevent thoughts and memories from returning. Anderson believes the finding could offer a new approach to tackling intrusive thoughts in these disorders.
0 0 189 06 November, 2017 Alternative, Science more