If you've bought a bottle of water in the past few years, you've probably spotted a “BPA-free” label or twenty. A chemical that leaks out of polycarbonate plastics, bisphenol A is determined “safe at the current levels occurring in food” by the Food and Drug Administration, but there's evidence that it can disrupt our brain and endocrine systems at higher doses.
Fever, chills, vomiting, headache, mental confusion, and occasionally death: That's the prognosis for more than 200 million people infected with malaria each year. Preventative measures aimed at reducing risk exposure—that is, avoiding mosquito bites—have had some success. But the ultimate solution, a vaccine, has remained elusive for decades. In fact, the 2009 book The Elusive Malaria Vaccine: Miracle or Mirage? tracks the long history of scientific effort in that arena. Now, however, a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests scientists may have cracked the code.
Ever since CRISPR—the relatively cheap and easy-to-use genome editing technique—made its way to the scientific stage, researchers have grappled with one of its biggest ethical quagmires: Its ability to edit human embryos, thereby potentially altering the DNA of subsequent generations. The question of whether to allow such a drastic and permanent change has been discussed ad nauseum since it became clear that CRISPR would make this (relatively) easy to do. This week, a panel of experts from the National Academy of Science released a report endorsing this type of research—though a long list of caveats and precautions come in tow.
This week, The Times of India reported on a 42-year-old Indian woman who went to the emergency room complaining of a severely painful “tingling, crawling sensation” in her head. Two sets of doctors couldn't figure out the cause of her pain, but the third set finally made a breakthrough: They determined it was a “foreign body that seemed to be mobile,” ordered a scan, and found a living, fully-grown cockroach lodged inside her nasal cavity. Doctors quickly guided a flexible tube called an endoscope up the woman's nose to remove the bug. Luckily, everything turned out okay for both the woman and sneaky pest, which doctors noted was crawling around a petri dish after it had been removed.