It’s been a while since there has been a Shot of Science and a lot has happened since the last one!
Rosetta mission reveals findings from 67P
Keeping up with the very latest science news, we really can’t ignore the journal Science this week, they just got the exclusive on a lot of exciting data from the Rosetta mission. Even if you don’t want to get into the gory details of what exactly they have been doing, I would recommend first reading the introduction to this series of papers by several of the leading scientists and then go clicking on each paper just to check out the images taken of the comet 67P. Some of the more interesting findings about the comet itself show that it has a low mass (1013 kg) and density (~470 km/m3) which gives it “a relatively fluffy nature”.
The great news is that all the papers seem to be open access so you don’t need a subscription to see what we just discovered.
Also, I recommend going back and reading ‘Rosetta’s Tale‘ by James O Connor which was written before most of the action happened surround this space mission.
Young blood doesn’t prolong lifespan
I have written before about several studies which have transfused blood from a young mouse into an old one leading to rejuvenation of the older mouse. This included better cognitive functions as well as improved muscle density. However, the most recent study in this line of investigation has just found that this ‘young blood treatment’ doesn’t prolong the lifespan of mice. Treated and non-treated both lived to the ripe old age of 26.5 and 27 months respectively, quite an age for a mouse. So although blood transplants hold the potential to reverse or at least reduce the signs of ageing, you’re not going to see a 1000 year old Dracula walking down the street any time soon.
Dutch team cure metastatic cancer in mice
A team of scientists based in the Netherlands have effectively cured metastatic cancer in mice in the lab. Metastatic cancer occurs when one cancer spreads throughout the body, making it very hard to treat even if the original site of cancer has been effectively treated or removed. Anti-metastatic drugs have been tested before but these drugs which normally target enzymes to stop the cancer cells working properly can also attack healthy cells and cause a lot more damage. In this study the authors packaged the anti-metastatic drug into nano-vesicles and then coated these vesicles with antibodies to directly target the cancer cells. This way, the drug is only delivered where cancer is present and doesn’t get released in areas without cancer. This is an extremely novel approach and looks to be very promising with the mice receiving the drug-loaded nanovesicles having 75% less metastatic cancer than animals receiving the same nanovesicles but without the drug inside.
Of course mice and humans aren’t the same animal and our bodies work very differently so we’ll just have to wait and see where this leads.