Each month we turn to our colleagues at the journal Nature for a tour of recent science headlines, complements of our friends at the journal Nature. This month, it's Flora Graham, Editor of Nature Briefing. Here are the stories we covered:
- The scientist who edited the genomes of twin girls in an attempt to make them resistant to HIV might have inadvertently shortened their life expectancy. People with two disabled copies of the CCR5 gene — the version that protects against HIV infection — are 21% more likely to die before the age of 76 than are people with at least one working copy of the gene. The analysis is based on genetic and health data from nearly 410,000 people enrolled in the UK Biobank research project.
- A young woman with an aggressive, early-onset form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that has already killed her twin sister is poised to receive a cutting-edge form of gene therapy. The treatment, which is yet to be approved for use, involves designing a molecule to bind to and disable mutated strands of genetic code in the woman’s cells to prevent them from producing a protein that causes the neurological damage underlying her ALS. The woman would become the second-ever person to try the approach. The first use, for a rare neurodegenerative condition called Batten disease, halted the progress of the condition.
- Since 2015, Google has funded a group of around 30 researchers across several laboratories to take a fresh look at one of science’s greatest taboos: cold fusion. Google’s $10-million project found no evidence whatsoever of cold fusion, but made some advances in measurement and materials-science techniques.