The biological sciences are an ever-evolving field, with discoveries made daily. Biology major Steven Rinder has identified some exciting discoveries and research in biology you should be aware of:
1. Discovering new species
A new species of sea slug has been discovered. The first terrestrial animal found to absorb and metabolize nitrogen from the air. This adaptation will allow it to live in an environment with very little soil, as it can use the resources available in its surroundings to survive.
2. Spider Senses
In a recent experiment, spiders were shown to learn by watching and observing the behavior of other spiders. The results were published in Scientific Reports, and it is exciting because it shows that spiders may have social learning skills, which have never been recorded before.
3. Electricity from Sound
Scientists at MIT have created a system that can turn sound waves into electricity. This technology can create energy from any sound, such as music, conversations, and even human movement. In addition, it can power multiple devices at once.
4. The World’s First Gene-Edited Babies
A Chinese scientist named He Jiankui claims that he was recently able to create gene-editing in twin girls born in November 2018. The research was done on embryos with the CRISPR-Cas9 technique, but the embryos were not allowed to grow past the 8-cell stage to achieve this goal.
5. Spider Silk for Human Use
Humans use silkworms in the production of silk. However, spiders make their silk. Researchers at MIT have recently learned how to re-create spider silk in labs, and it is stronger than steel yet softer than human hair. It can also potentially be used in medical settings to assist wound healing due to its hardiness against blood clotting.
6. Scientist Finds Parasitic Worm DNA Remains after Insect Consumption
A scientist has discovered that parasitic worms can stay alive in the digestive system of insect eaters. The study was published in Nature Communications, showing that these worms can manipulate the behavior of their hosts so they can use them for reproduction.
7. Helping Blind People See Color
A lab at MIT is developing a new device called an ‘eyeshade’ which has electrodes capable of stimulating cells inside human eyes to allow people with color blindness to see colors normally. This device will also be used for other purposes, such as assisting with cell loss in retinal degeneration disorders like age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
8. New Insights into How Cells Divide and Die in Brain Tumors
Researchers have recently discovered that when brain tumors start, they do not arise from stem cells but rather specialized non-stem cells in the brain. These findings were published in Nature Cell Biology, and it may mean that current cancer treatments could be more effective on some tumors if this new knowledge is implemented.
9. Colon Cancer Can Be Detected with Blood Testing
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered a new biomarker that can predict colon cancer before symptoms appear. Testing of the blood could predict whether or not patients would develop colon cancer for eight years; eventually, it could not predict anything after three years because the test was too accurate. This discovery allows doctors to detect problems early and save lives during routine checkups.
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