Weekly Round Up: Cavemen, Stars, Base Editing, antibiotics and Imminent Psychological collapse

stories that grabbed us this week

Red Deer Answers Ever since their discovery in 1989,the Red Deer Cave fossils from China have puzzled investigators. What were such supposedly “primitive looking” hominins doing at an an incredibly recent 14000 BCE? The answer is-they weren’t. New DNA tests reveal them to have been fully 100% human, and linked to the population group that first migrated to North America. Two big lessons here: don’t over-interpret your physical data to draw ambitious conclusions : and, when the DNA boys ride into town, everyone else better get out of the way, which is true in several other areas of human science.


James Webb Triumph And right to call it so. for it shows what we can achieve when we lift our eyes from petty narcissistic quarrels down here on earth. The new NASA mission has been a roaring success as early pictures show. Everyone has covered it this week so we’ve selected a piece that really riffs, by Martin Barstow for the Conversation


Base Editing is the new cool Stand aside CRISPR, here comes base editing, an even newer genetic engineering technique which could make life better for millions-and well into the future We’ll let Nature explain more: Base Editors reach the clinic

A US biotechnology company, Verve Therapeutics, says it has brought the first base-editing therapy to the clinic. Last week, a person in New Zealand received the gene-editing treatment to target an inherited genetic disorder that causes dangerously high cholesterol levels. And other base-editor trials are set to start soon. These therapeutics are designed to permanently change a single letter in the genetic code at a specific location without making breaks in DNA, like CRISPR does — hopefully avoiding some types of genetic typo.The Washington Post | 5 min read & Nature Reviews Drug Discovery | 11 min read

Antibiotic Resistance is real We bang on about antibiotic resistance a bit here, but we can be a bit ivory tower about it, we know. But here’s a link, courtesy of Gaynor Lynch, which shows the consequences up close and personal


Signs of imminent Psychological collapse Sometimes complete personality melt down followed by a nervous breakdown can creep up without the victim even knowing. Psychiatrists look for early warning signs. We believe one such is if you start entertaining feelings of sexual attraction for any of the candidates in the current Tory leadership contest. We’ll leave judgements on their policies regarding the economy, foreign affairs, welfare and culture to greater experts. But if you look at any of this lot and go “phwoar”, then we think you may need help.

this little piece from the Guardian shows a fair selection of the candidates charms, in case you have missed them, but you’ll find them all over UK media at the moment.


#james webb #antibiotics #nasa #james webb #base editing #human origins

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