Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

fishy plant: A team of Australian scientists has created a plant that yields the highly beneficial long-chain omega-3 fatty acids usually found in fish oil. Allan Green of CSIRO, an Australian research organisation in Canberra, and his team have developed a type of thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) by inserting genes from marine algae. The plant produces oil with omega-3, which is known to reduce the risk of heart disease and arthritis, besides being good for brain development.

shock therapy: Used mainly to treat kidney stones, shock waves may also help heal fractures, claim scientists. Joerg Hausdorf's team at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, studied the effect of shock waves on bone cells. The scientists say the non-invasive technique may help treat fractures that are otherwise difficult to heal. It could perhaps even reduce the need for hip replacements.

Shock waves -- single, high-pressure pulses -- travel through soft tissue without causing any harm but release their energy on coming in contact with a hard substance, such as a bone, according to the scientists.

phthalate link: US researchers have found a link between pregnant women's exposure to a common class of chemicals known as phthalates and adverse effects on genital development in their male children. Led by Shanna H Swan of the University of Rochester, department of obstetrics and gynaecology, the scientists collected data from 85 eligible mother-son pairs. The findings suggest some phthalates suppress the hormones involved in male sexual development.

Phthalates are found in soft vinyl plastic toys, medical tubing and fluid bags, and a variety of cosmetics such as perfume, lotion, shampoo, make-up, nail polish and hairspray.

cancer prone: Since the paths of humans and chimpanzees diverged 5 million years ago, the one per cent genetic difference between the two appears to have changed the former in an unexpected way: It could have made us more prone to cancer.

A comparative genetic study led by researchers from the Cornell University suggests that some mutations in human sperm cells might allow them to avoid early death and reproduce, creating an advantage that ensures more sperm cells carry this trait. But this same positive selection could also have made it easier for human cancer cells to survive.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.