COP15: A HISTORIC AGREEMENT ON BIODIVERSITY

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, or COP15, came to a dramatic end early this morning, with a final agreement that will see 30% of Earth’s land and sea protected by 2030.

“We have 30 by 30,” said Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, Steven Guilbeault, a former climate protester. “Six months ago, who would have thought we could get 30 by 30 in Montreal? We have an agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, to work on restoration, to reduce the use of pesticides. This is tremendous progress.”

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The use of imagery in global health: an analysis of infectious disease documents and a framework to guide practice

Esmita Charani, PhD †
Sameed Shariq, BSc †
Alexandra M Cardoso Pinto, BSc
Raabia Farooqi, BSc
Winnie Nambatya, MPharm
Oluchi Mbamalu, PhD
Seye Abimbola, PhD
Marc Mendelson, PhD

The Lancet | Open Access | Published: December 01, 2022 | DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(22)00465-X

Summary


We report an empirical analysis of the use of imagery by the key actors in global health who set policy and strategy, and we provide a comprehensive overview, particularly related to images used in reports on vaccination and antimicrobial resistance. The narrative currently depicted in imagery is one of power imbalances, depicting women and children from low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) with less dignity, respect, and power than those from high-income countries. The absence of any evidence of consent for using intrusive and out-of-context images, particularly of children in LMICs, is concerning. The framework we have developed provides a platform for global health actors to redefine their intentions and recommission appropriate images that are relevant to the topic, respect the integrity of all individuals depicted, are accompanied by evidence of consent, and are equitable in representation. Adhering to these standards will help to avoid inherent biases that lead to insensitive content and misrepresentation, stigmatisation, and racial stereotyping.

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Geneticist who unmasked lives of ancient humans wins medicine Nobel

Ewen Callaway & Heidi Ledford

Nature | October 03, 2022

Svante Pääbo has been awarded a Nobel prize for discoveries about the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.Credit: Alamy

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded for pioneering studies of human evolution that harnessed precious snippets of DNA found in fossils that are tens of thousands of years old.

The work of Svante Pääbo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, led to the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and the discovery of a new group of hominins called the Denisovans, and also spawned the fiercely competitive field of palaeogenomics.

By tracing how genes flowed between ancient hominin populations, researchers have been able to trace these groups’ migrations, as well as the origins of some aspects of modern human physiology, including features of the immune system and mechanisms of adaptation to life at high altitudes.

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Chemists who invented revolutionary ‘click’ reactions win Nobel

Researchers honoured for game-changing methods to couple molecules, including reactions that can be run in living cells.

Davide Castelvecchi & Heidi Ledford

Nature | October 05, 2022

Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless (left to right) developed ways of joining molecules quickly and without unwanted by-products.Credit: James Tensuan/The New York Times/Redux/eyevine; University of Copenhagen; K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune via ZUMA/Alamy

Three chemists who pioneered a useful technique called click chemistry to join molecules together efficiently have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Barry Sharpless at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Morten Meldal at the University of Copenhagen laid the foundation for click chemistry, and both independently discovered a pivotal reaction that could link two molecules — an azide and an alkyne — with relative ease1,2,3. This reaction has been used to develop a host of molecules, including plastics and potential pharmaceuticals.

The third winner, Carolyn Bertozzi at Stanford University in California, used click chemistry to map the complex sugar-based polymers called glycans on the surface of living cells without disturbing cell function4. To do this, she developed processes called bioorthogonal reactions, which are now being used to aid the development of cancer drugs.

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Inside the US Supreme Court’s war on science

A new ultraconservative supermajority on the United States’ top court is undermining science’s role in informing public policy. Scholars fear the results could be disastrous for public health, justice and democracy itself.

Jeff Tollefson

Nature | September 14, 2022

Illustration by Sébastien Thibault

In late June, the US Supreme Court issued a trio of landmark decisions that repealed the right to abortion, loosened gun restrictions and curtailed climate regulations. Although the decisions differed in rationale, they share a distinct trait: all three dismissed substantial evidence about how the court’s rulings would affect public health and safety. It is a troubling trend that many scientists fear could undermine the role of scientific evidence in shaping public policy. Now, as the court prepares to consider a landmark case on electoral policies, many worry about the future of American democracy itself.
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Mouse embryos grown without eggs or sperm: why and what’s next?

Two research teams grew synthetic embryos using stem cells, long enough to see some organs develop.

Cassandra Willyard

Nature | August 25, 2022

Natural and synthetic mouse embryos grown by developmental biologist Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz’s research group.Credit: Gianluca Amadei, Charlotte Handford

The recipe for mammalian life is simple: take an egg, add sperm and wait. But two new papers demonstrate that there’s another way. Under the right conditions, stem cells can divide and self-organize into an embryo on their own. In studies published in Cell1 and Nature2 this month, two groups report that they have grown synthetic mouse embryos for longer than ever before. The embryos grew for 8.5 days, long enough for them to develop distinct organs — a beating heart, a gut tube and even neural folds.

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Climate change is turning more of Central Asia into desert

The rapid expansion will have significant impacts on ecosystems and the people and animals who rely on them.

Giorgia Guglielmi

Nature | June 16, 2022

The spread of deserts in Uzbekistan and neighbouring countries will alter the composition of ecosystems.Credit: Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock

As global temperatures rise, desert climates have spread north by up to 100 kilometres in parts of Central Asia since the 1980s, a climate assessment reveals1.

The study, published on 27 May in Geophysical Research Letters, also found that over the past 35 years, temperatures have increased across all of Central Asia, which includes parts of China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. In the same period, mountain regions have become hotter and wetter — which might have accelerated the retreat of some major glaciers.

Such changes threaten ecosystems and those who rely on them, says Jeffrey Dukes, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, California. The findings are a “great first step” towards informing mitigation and adaptation policies, he says.

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Guardians of the brain: how a special immune system protects our grey matter

The nervous and immune systems are tightly intertwined. Deciphering their chatter might help address many brain disorders and diseases.

Diana Kwon

Nature | June 01, 2022

The brain’s immune system includes a network of transport vessels (blue) and its own immune cells made in the bone marrow (green). Credit: Siling Du, Kipnis lab, Washington University in St. Louis

The brain is the body’s sovereign, and receives protection in keeping with its high status. Its cells are long-lived and shelter inside a fearsome fortification called the blood–brain barrier. For a long time, scientists thought that the brain was completely cut off from the chaos of the rest of the body — especially its eager defence system, a mass of immune cells that battle infections and whose actions could threaten a ruler caught in the crossfire.

In the past decade, however, scientists have discovered that the job of protecting the brain isn’t as straightforward as they thought. They’ve learnt that its fortifications have gateways and gaps, and that its borders are bustling with active immune cells.

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Stockholm+50: Is science for just solutions

If science-policy interfaces are to deliver just and effective solutions to climate change, they must involve indigenous peoples and local communities

Pia M Kohler

Down To Earth | June 04, 2022

When presenting my research on global institutions established to guide policymaking on environmental challenges, my (mostly North American and European) audiences will often wonder at the need to scrutinise these science-policy interfaces. Isn’t the only thing that matters, someone will inevitably ask, is that we have asked the best scientists on the planet to guide us?

This is typically when I draw from Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain’s seminal 1991 piece, ‘Global warming in an unequal world’. Agarwal and Narain called out the environmental colonialism evident in a 1990 report by the US-based World Resources Institute purporting to measure a country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

I invite my interlocutors to consider the distinction Agarwal and Narain draw between “luxury” and “survival” emissions. We then consider what gets erased when we take up the now commonplace unit: the metric tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) or of CO2 equivalent.

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China, Cuba Present Jointly-Produced ‘Pan-Corona Vaccine’

teleSUR | June 03, 2022

Cuba and China present the first patent for the Pancorona vaccine, result of the collaboration between both countries in the biotechnological field. | Photo: Twitter @EmbacubaChina

Cuba managed to develop five COVID-19 vaccines and inoculated 95% of its population against the COVID-19 virus, despite the burden of the U.S. blockade. China, likewise, produced a massive amount of two different vaccines for its 1.4 billion-strong population and much of the Third World.


Cuba and the People’s Republic of China jointly filed the first patent for a vaccine against  COVID-19 and its many variants, which could also be effective against several related viruses, the Cuban daily Granma reported on Thursday.

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