Why haven’t we cured cancer?

Cancer has been a monumental target for medical research – in the West it’s a leading cause of death, and is highly feared. But this reputation isn’t necessarily earned. A large number of patients arrive in clinic with the secret apprehension that it could be the ‘big C’ despite the fact heart disease is the […]

Genes Means Hearts

In 2000, the human genome, a manuscript containing all the genes that make us human, was completed at a cost of $3 billion dollars. At a cost of nearly $1 a letter, this makes it the costliest script ever bought (its worthiest competitor being Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’, sold for $11.5 million). What, apart from […]

Playing God

Who really decides your medical treatment? The government wants it to be you, but are you really the best judge? Lies, damned lies, and statistics. A household catchphrase referring to the deceptive nature of statistical studies. People are easily seduced by science when it is presented as logic and reason. After all, numbers shouldn’t lie. […]

Walking Away from Paralysis

Does the solution to paralysis emulate an infant’s developing nervous system? Can we regrow spines? Medicine has come a long way in the past century, and like most technology, progress has been exponential with the addition of automated machinery and global research collaboration. However, there remain conditions stubbornly resistent to the physician’s intent to cure. […]

Mortal Devices

This article is taken from the Spring 2012 issue of I, Science. Jo Poole asks whether humans really can be repaired like machines. It is true that however well we look after our health, from diet and exercise to vaccination, all organisms are subject to progressive changes. These arise via both extrinsic devices such as […]

Healing Minds

A sad soul kills you quicker than a germ. The science behind the healing power of the mind. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven. – John Milton, Paradise Lost Neuro-psycho-biology is the lengthy name awarded to the up and coming field of […]

Nodding Disease

Jo Poole looks into the mystery disease that has killed thousands of children in rural Africa. The Daily Mail have pegged it “the zombie disease” haunting North Uganda and tribe witch doctors blame it on vengeful spirits left over from the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army. But more commonly it has been called ‘nodding […]

Battle of the Sexes

Liger and male handler The battle of the sexes is as old as time itself. George Gilder commented that “differences between sexes are one of the most single important facts of human society”. These differences are also one of the most important foundations for human existence. Evolution has gradually crafted us from the humblest of […]

The Neural Code

This article is taken from the Winter 2011 issue of I, Science. Jo Poole talks brain cells, ‘roborats’, and how cutting-edge neurology may help us overcome Parkinson’s Charles Scott Sherrington described the brain as “Biology’s final frontier”. The greatest differences between us and our closest relatives lie in the convoluted folds of a jelly-like organ […]

Butterflies, Brains & DNA Games

Monarch caterpillar Since Watson and Crick’s seminal discovery of the double helix there’s been an emergent supposition that DNA makes us what we are. This is a savagely simple belief, which has allowed creationists to pick holes in Darwin’s arguments, but also probably reflects why only 40 years later genetic research is at the point […]

The A(TG)C of You and Me

Should we all be sequencing our own genomes? It’s often said that “it’s what’s inside that counts”. From a medic’s point of view, past the external stigmata of disease, this is widely true. For a geneticist it is sacred. Genomes constitute an entire instruction manual for building an organism. They contain hidden heirlooms from our […]

Captain Scott’s 100-Year Legacy

Despite none of them making it home, the scientific legacy of Captain Scott and his team remains strong 100 years on. Here are just a few of the discoveries that can be traced back to Scott’s tragic Antarctic expedition. 2011 marks the 100-year anniversary of Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed quest to be the first to […]

Bodybuilding – Just Need a Printer

Regenerative medicine is the field of research devoted not just to healing illness, but to replacing body parts from scratch. Consider it the equivalent of getting your car door re-sprayed or getting a new door. Just as the colour might not be right, organ and tissue transplants rarely perfectly match their recipients. Our individual genetic […]

Vive la Différence

Variation is the driving force behind evolution and the reason why any species persists on this planet. Yet the science of human diversity is curtailed by controversial politics and outcries against racism. Some resistance comes from indigenous groups who feel they would be lab rats, but most comes from cautious government groups like the European […]

Remote Control Brains

Mind control is an unsettling prospect. Its psychology is far less obfuscated than its biology, which is fantastic for advertising companies and frustrating for scientists. Brains contribute about 2% of our body weight and require 20% of its energy requirement. We recognise early that brains are the seat of our humanity, autonomy and ‘self’ and […]

Science Behind the Photo #31

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) This flower is native to Europe and North America. The origin of the word dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de Lion meaning lion’s tooth, though it also goes by the more poetic name of Florin d’Or – the golden florian. Its ethereal seeding stage; a corona of misty-star like […]

Intellectual Chess

There is no question about it, we have big heads. Relative to our body size we have the largest brains on earth, and even non-relative to body size, our brains are still some of the largest. If we consider that we are the well-honed product of mother nature’s machinations then it follows logically that large […]

Original Sin: Selfish Genes?

Darwin’s Origin of Species was not the only landmark literature to be published in the late 19th century; it was framed by contrasting books considering the moral behaviour of man. One Self Help considered humans to be so flawed and innately immoral that the only way to achieve goodness was to remove all traces of […]