DNA editing partially restores sight

Blind animals have had their vision partially restored using a revolutionary DNA editing technique that scientists say could in future be applied to a range of devastating genetic diseases.

The study shows that a gene editing tool called Crispr can be used to replace faulty genes with working versions in the cells of adults – in this case adult rats.

Previously, the powerful procedure, in which strands of DNA are snipped out and replaced, had been used only in dividing cells but the latest advance paves the way for Crispr to be used to treat a range of incurable illnesses, such as muscular dystrophy, haemophilia and cystic fibrosis, by overwriting faulty genes.

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Trump and Climate Change

This is worth reading, from Oliver Milman, US Environment Correspondent

Obama’s climate legacy is set to be torn apart by Trump once he enters the White House. Contentious oil pipelines such as Keystone and Dakota Access will likely be approved. Clean energy funding will be slashed. The world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter will look to prop up coal, rather than renewables, to power its future.

This could prove catastrophic for the world’s climate, as well as international diplomacy, as American leadership is transformed into an excuse to slack off in cutting emissions. Already, the 2C threshold looks in severe peril. 8 November could be the day when tens of millions of people were condemned to an unlivable environment. A Trump u-turn on this matter, at least, would be welcomed by those most at risk.

 

Our Individual Contribution to Global Warming

Research, published in the journal Science, analysed the declining extent of Arctic sea ice from 1953 to 2015 and found it tracked the emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel burning and other human activities. The relationship fits well with the underlying physics.

As a result, it is possible to calculate how much Arctic sea ice is lost as a result of an individual’s emissions. The average annual emissions of a citizen of the 35 rich nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is 10 tonnes per year, leading to 30 sq m of ice being lost. Citizens of the US, Canada and Australia have a higher carbon footprint – about 16 tonnes – each causing almost 50 sq m of ice loss per year. In the UK, the average emissions are 7.5 tonnes per year, meaning 22.5 sq m of ice loss.

So we should all do our best to reduce our carbon footprint, every little helps.

Mars lander failure

The European Space agency has released new images of its doomed Mars lander, which is thought to have disintegrated after hitting the planet’s surface at high speed – rather than touching down gently as planned.

The images show that the craft touched down well within its target landing zone, but that something went catastrophically wrong during the descent. It is thought that the thrusters that slow the craft down only fired for 3-4 seconds rather than the 30 they were required to.