Plant Pathogens Observed From Orbit

Plant Pathogens Observed From Orbit

What can farmers learn from physicists? This month in Naked Astronomy we’ll find out how satellite imaging can help to understand and control crop diseases, as well as how precisely timed pulsars point to gravitational waves. Plus, a roundup of space science news and the answers to your astronomy and cosmology questions.

Tackling neurodegenerative diseases – Naked Genetics 12.06.14

Tackling neurodegenerative diseases

MRI showing an Alzheimers affected brain (c) NASA

Complex, mysterious and currently incurable – the challenge for researchers working on neurodegenerative diseases is huge. We’ll be finding out how scientists are using genetic approaches to understand these distressing illnesses. Plus we find out why claims of a male contraceptive pill are somewhat premature, discover how a 16th century mummy has revealed the history of hepatitis B, and investigate whether your genes could predispose you to life in orbit.  And our gene of the month is the hollow-sounding Tinman.

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In this edition of Naked Genetics

Full Transcript

  • mouse (c) Rasbak

    01:19 – Modelling neurodegeneration – Professor Lizzy Fisher

    Down’s Syndrome is a genetic disease caused by inheriting an extra copy of human chromosome 21. As well as leading to a range of physical and mental problems, new research is also revealing changes in the brains of people with Down’s Syndrome that look similar to the neurodegene…

  • DNA (c) Mnolf

    07:50 – Duplicate genes shaped brain evolution

    The first story that has caught my attention is a double in Cell led by two groups, the first by Evan Eichler and the second by Frank Polleux, and it’s basically about what makes us human.

  • Mummy (c) Klafubra

    09:29 – Mummy provides virus clues

    They’ve looked at the mummy of a 16th century Korean child and manage to not only extract preserved organ tissue from its liver. They have actually managed to sequence hepatitis B virus from this child’s liver from 500 years ago.

  • Sperm and Egg (c)

    10:51 – Male contraceptive claims are premature

    There’s some research published in PLoS Genetics this month from researchers up Edinburgh led by Lee Smith that led to headlines all over the place going “male contraceptive pill could be here, blah, blah, blah”. But when you actually look at the research, that’s really not what…

  • Sow with piglet (c) Scott Bauer

    12:23 – Mmmm bacon… and genetics

    This is a story led by Hiroaki Matsunami in the US and published in PLoS ONE about the genetics of why some people like the smell of pork or not.

  • Influenza Virus (c) CDC/ Dr. F. A. Murphy

    15:17 – Controversial flu research published

    Researchers have finally published a study in the journal Nature showing how so-called bird-flu (avian H5N1 influenza virus) can become contagious in mammals, after heated public debate and a controversial US government recommendation to block publication.

  • Tomato (c) Sanbec

    16:07 – Tomato genome sequenced

    Genetically-inclined ketchup fans can rejoice this month, because the whole genome of the tomato – specifically the Heinz 1706 variety – has finally been sequenced and is published in the journal Nature.

  • Blood Cells (c) NIH

    16:54 – Turning the clock back on blood stem cells

    US and German researchers have managed to turn back the clock on blood stem cells, making them effectively younger, according to new results in the journal Cell Stem Cell from a team led by Dr Hartmut Geiger.

  • DNA Helix (c)

    17:49 – Blood test to monitor genetic changes in cancer

    Scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute have developed a simple blood test that could monitor the genetics changes in cancer as it grows and evolves within the body, publishing their results in Science Translational Medicine.

  • Nerve_cells (c)

    18:58 – Stem cells for studying neurodegeneration – Dr Kevin Eggan

    As we heard earlier, some researchers are using mouse models to unravel the biological mysteries underlying neurodegenerative diseases. But Kevin Eggan, Associate Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative biology at Harvard University, is using a different approach – studying stem…

  • Tin Man (c) Cameraman @

    28:06 – Gene of the month – Tinman

    And finally, our gene of the month is the hollow-sounding Tinman, whimsically named after the character in the Wizard of Oz who’s rather lacking in the heart department.

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