In the news

 In the news:

Episode 9: The helminth and its host: Are parasitic worms helpful or harmful?

We ventured into the wriggly world of parasitic worms in this podcast, and learnt about their interaction with our immune system and vice versa. The idea to look in more detail about the interplay between helminths and our immune system was inspired by the BBC4 documentary:

Michael Mosley infests himself with tapeworms – BBC news

Unsurprisingly, Michael did not experience any improvements in his allergies once infested with a tapeworm, due to the fact most research highlighting the beneficial effects of parasitic worms on allergies/autoimmune diseases is not using tapeworms. We speak to Dr Rowann Bowcutt about the use of pig whipworm eggs to treat the autoimmune disease Ulcerative Colitis and why it is this worm that elicits beneficial effects for the condition.

We also spoke to Dr Mark Travis in this podcast about his research looking for novel ways to treat parasitic worms by manipulating the immune system. Mark’s research has featured in many articles:

Step forward in mission to tackle parasitic worm infections – Science Daily

Parasitic worms are ‘being invited back into the gut’ by traditional treatments, say Manchester scientists – Mancunionmatters

 Episode 8: The open access debate

In this episode, we are engaging in the debate on whether scientific literature should be freely available to anyone at anytime. Just after our podcast was released, ‘Science’ publishers have launched their own open access journal. This perhaps suggests in response to our question ‘is the transition to open access inevitable?‘, the likely answer is yes as the OA movement is ever-increasing!

AAAS Launches Open Access JournalScience news 

We asked Prof Jonathan Eisen in the podcast whether he felt young scientists may be resistant to the change, but here are two early-career scientists who are literally pushing for open access:

Push button for open accessThe guardian 

Even science minister David Willets is calling for a change to open access, suggesting publishers should charge less in subscription fees to Universities who are increasingly paying more gold open access charges:

Willets calls for publisher offsetting to encourage open access – Times Higher Education 

Finally, after speaking to a large range of highly esteemed guests, we are now featured on Jonathan’s blog – ‘The Tree of Life’, and have been featured on The SPARC Weekly. The Scholarly Publishing Academic Resources coalition (SPARC) is an international alliance of academics and research libraries that work towards developing a fair scholarly publishing system.

Episode 7: The slow loris, a killer primate, and conservation

In this episode we hear from Prof. Anna Nekaris about the illegal trade of slow lorises and how various celebrities may have increased demand for this illegal trade through poorly chosen photo ops. Here are some articles relating to this issue:

The creatures that are too cute for their own good! Loris primates rescued after internet popularity creates such high demand for them as pets they are targeted by thievesThe Mail Online

Rihanna’s Instagram selfie with slow loris leads to the arrest of two poachers in ThailandThe Mail Online

Episode 6: The badger cull: Not so black and white

The badger cull has been the focus of a media storm, with almost every news avenue covering the topic, but here are a view snippets from the BBC and guardian:

Badger cull: Attenborough condemns UK government for ‘ignoring’ scienceThe Guardian

Somerset badger cull fails to meet target, Defra admits BBC news

Badger cull extended as kills fall short of targetBBC news 

Natural England overruled its adviser to extend badger cull in GloucestershireThe Guardian

Gloucestershire badger cull ends as targets missedBBC news

Cost of policing badger culls more than double initial estimatesThe Guardian 

Episode 5: November Movember, a month to remember!

After speaking to Dr Carsten Timmermann, I was intrigued to find out more about lung cancer and how the perception of a cancer type can very much influence funding and research. Here is an article where Carsten discusses:

Lung cancer surgery survival rates unchanged since 1950sManchester news

If you want to find out more about Nixon’s ‘war on cancer‘ and how it changed the way people viewed cancer, as discussed in the podcast, this article is a very interesting read:

Viewpoint: Did Richard Nixon change the way people describe cancer? BBC news 

Episode 4: Science in cells: Nobel prize and iGEM winners

Dr Lisa Swanton explains vesicle trafficking and its importance in cell physiology:

Cellular ‘shipping’ wins Nobel PrizeBBC News

Our latest podcast featured on the front page of Synthetic Biology Buzz #synbio due to our interview with the Manchester iGEM team who won ‘Best Human Practices’ for producing palm oil from bacteria!

The team also featured in our local student newspaper:

Biology team wins prize for synthetic palm oilThe Mancunion

Episode 3: Jurassic Park: The facts behind the fiction

Our guests, Prof. Terry Brown and Dr Dave Penney featured in the telegraph, discussing their inability to extract ancient DNA from insects trapped in amber:

Jurrasic Park ruled out – Dinosaur DNA could not survive in amber – The Telegraph

This discovery called into question the likelihood of ancient DNA surviving from when dinosaurs roamed the earth, some 65 million years ago, and was further substantiated by palaeogeneticists led by Morten Allentoft at the University of Copenhagen and Michael Bunce at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, who discovered DNA to have a 521-year half life. These results of the study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B were summarised in this article:

DNA has a 521-year half life – Nature News

Another study, however, have found traces of blood from the abdomen of a 46 MY old fossilised mosquito, suggesting mosquitos were blood-sucking pests even to ancient animals:

Blood-filled mosquito is a fossil firstNature News

The 46-million-year-old meal: Scientists discover mosquito fossil so well-preserved that it still has blood in its stomachThe Daily Mail

Episode 2: Interactions in science: Plants, soil and climate change plus science communication

After speaking to Prof. Richard Bardgett on the link between soils, land management and greenhouse gas emissions – and the potential to utilise different forms of land management to mitigate climate change, this article was published:

UN highlights the role of farming in close emissions gap  – BBC news

It seems like the UN Environment Programme agrees with the University of Manchester scientists!

Episode 1: Science behind compatibility

Check out the reviews on Prof. Dan Davis’s book ‘The Compatibility Gene’:

The Compatibility Gene by Daniel M Davis – review – The Guardian

The immune system, from the inside The New York Times

In first episode, Dr Susanne Shultz discusses her recent paper on the evolution of monogamy in primates in our podcast, which is reported here:

Monogamy may have evolved to to prevent infanticide –  ScienceMag News

She explains the opposing results discussed in this news article:

Conflicting results rekindle monogamy debate – Nature News



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