Welcome to a world where a common lab technique has been modified to distinguish between molecules that exist as two mirror-image structures. This is crucial for drug discovery, as each version of these chiral molecules can have a significantly different effect on the body. A modified mass spectrometer, which is a workhorse of chemistry, can now separate these chiral molecules within minutes and identify how much of each version is present in a mixture.
In the world of healthcare, a large study in India revealed that physicians often hesitate to prescribe a cheap, lifesaving treatment for diarrhea because they believe their patients do not want it. This is a surprising discovery considering the widespread awareness of the efficacy of oral rehydration solution in preventing dehydration and reducing the risk of death in cases of diarrhoeal disease. It was found that simply expressing a preference for the oral rehydration solution doubled the likelihood of receiving it for a sick child, compared to those who mentioned no treatment.
On the international stage, the renewal of a key symbolic agreement between China and the United States to cooperate on science and technology looks set to be placed on a holding pattern for a second time. This has raised concerns about the potential impact on scientific research in both countries if the pact is not renewed.
In the realm of research and innovation, scientists are exploring the possibility of using gene editing to transfer the ability to ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air into compounds that can be used by plants. This breakthrough could potentially lead to plants being able to fertilize themselves, significantly reducing the environmental footprint of synthetic fertilizers.
Nature’s Futures series features a thought-provoking short story by Gareth Owens, inspired by his own COVID-induced coma. The story delves into the concept of what we might inflict on a self-aware AI.
Furthermore, researchers have uncovered the potential to repurpose mutations found in cancer cells to enhance immune cells’ ability to penetrate and kill tumors in mice. This discovery has led to complete remissions of difficult-to-treat tumors. Additionally, scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about how an S-shaped lawn sprinkler rotates underwater.
Overall, the world of science and technology is filled with fascinating developments and discoveries, from groundbreaking research to thought-provoking literature. Don’t miss out on the latest in the world of nature and science—subscribe to the Nature Podcast for insightful discussions, and stay updated on the latest scientific breakthroughs.