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04 February 2021

Five things to know about childhood cancer

Advances in diagnosis and care have yielded significant improvements in childhood cancer survival rates in Europe, but the long-term side-effect burden in young people — driven by the unlicensed use of adult cancer medicines — often means the price of survival is high, scientists say.
03 February 2021

Why dogs can teach humans about healthier ageing

Our pet dogs could help extend human lives beyond their documented effects on people’s wellbeing. Increasingly, studies are looking at how the domestic dog, Canis familiaris, is key to understanding cognition and processes involved in ageing – something that could improve both animal and human wellbeing.
02 February 2021

Why gut bacteria are becoming key suspects in autoimmune diseases

The human immune system is powerful and complex. It must be on guard at all times and be able to distinguish friend from foe. Unfortunately, it does not always get it right and sometimes attacks the body’s own cells, causing hundreds of ‘autoimmune’ diseases, from multiple sclerosis (MS) to rheumatoid arthritis.
01 February 2021

Q&A: Why shorter isn’t necessarily better when it comes to food supply chains

Fears over supermarket shortages during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic led many people to buy their food from local producers, raising the prospect of a transformation in the way people get their food in the future. But while eating locally and shorter supply chains are often viewed as a more sustainable alternative to our global food system, the reality is much more complicated, explains Dr Tessa Avermaete, a bioeconomist at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.
01 February 2021

Rethinking our supply chains

The coronavirus pandemic rattled our supply chains, putting them under intense pressure and forcing many to become aware of these complex systems that bring us food, medicine and other goods. Was 2020 a wake-up call to rethink supply chains? Or have they proved more robust than we feared and should continue as business as usual? In February, we ask whether today’s supply chains are due for reconfiguration. We speak to Dr Tessa Avermaete, a bioeconomist at KU Leuven in Belgium, about why short and local is not always better – or more sustainable – when it comes to food supply. We look at how medical supply chains can be maintained or even set up during a crisis situation, and at the environmental and social impacts of Europe’s supply chains on the rest of the world. And we look at how, in the future, goods from food to furniture could be transported according to new concept called the ‘physical internet’, where logistics mimics how information travels through the internet.
28 January 2021

In the Antarctic, a scientist recruits albatrosses to pinpoint illegal fishing boats

Albatross expert Dr Henri Weimerskirch, of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), turned his favourite seabirds into spies two years ago by fixing them up with loggers that could detect the radar of illegal fishing vessels. The information from this project, known as OCEAN SENTINEL, has helped governments select which parts of the ocean to patrol. But Dr Weimerskirch wanted to recruit another, possibly better, species to stealth operations. In late 2020, he returned to the remote Kerguelen Islands, in the southern Indian Ocean, to see if they would cooperate. He told Horizon about his expedition.
27 January 2021

Q&A: Why history suggests Covid-19 is here to stay

A mysterious flu-like illness that caused loss of taste and smell in the late 19th century was probably caused by a coronavirus that still causes the ‘common cold’ in people today, according to Professor Marc Van Ranst at KU Leuven in Belgium, an expert on coronaviruses.
26 January 2021

Triggering original fear memories could treat phobias and PTSD

In a lab in Amsterdam, arachnophobes have volunteered to encounter their eight-legged nemeses to help researchers hoping to conjure and obliterate fear memories. These studies, as well as new understanding of overlooked brain regions, are revealing how fears linked to PTSD or phobias work, and how they may be treated.
25 January 2021

They can capture more carbon than they emit. So why aren’t wooden buildings mainstream?

Four storeys high and made almost entirely of wood, the ZEB Lab building in Trondheim, Norway, had, even before it existed, sucked as much carbon from the atmosphere as it would probably produce in construction. Now, thanks to its arboreal origins, as well as to the sleek expanse of solar panels on its roof and to other energy efficiency measures, it is a carbon-negative building. In other words, from birth to demise, it will have drawn down more carbon than it emitted.
22 January 2021

Five things you need to know about: Delaying the gap between Covid-19 vaccine doses

As the first coronavirus vaccines started to be rolled out at the end of a tumultuous 2020, UK officials unexpectedly endorsed stretching the gap between the first and second vaccine dose by up to three months – an approach also considered by other countries.