The Ebola virus doesn't just bring terror and death to human communities, it also ravages Africa's great apes, whose populations are already imperiled by hunting and habitat encroachment. Now, in an effort to keep our closest-living relatives alive, researchers have successfully tested an oral Ebola vaccine in the laboratory.
One of the holy grails in the field of regenerative medicine is the ability to engineer whole organs in all their complexity, not just pieces of them. Laura Niklason is one of those pushing this boundary. During a visit, I followed one of her postdocs into a refrigerated closet in her Yale University laboratories. He reached out to a shelf and took down a jar. Unlike the amorphous piece of heart muscle Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic had showed me, there was no mistaking what was floating inside this container. It was a perfectly preserved pair of rat lungs, taken from an actual animal and “decellularized.”
Opioids come with a lot of downsides. They are highly addictive, and come with a slew of unwanted side effects like constipation, not to mention life-threatening ones like respiratory distress. But we just can't quit them: Opioids are extremely effective at controlling pain. Unfortunately, there's no way to get the beneficial, pain-relieving effect of opioids without those unwanted side effects, so we take the good with the bad.