Women’s Pain Is Different From Men’sthe Drugs Could Be Too

Men and women can’t feel each other’s pain. Literally. We have different biological pathways for chronic pain, which means pain-relieving drugs that work for one sex might fail in the other half of the population. So why don’t we have pain medicines designed just for men or women? The reason is simple: Because no one has looked for them. Drug development begins with studies on rats and mice, and until three years ago, almost all that research used only male animals. As a result, women in particular may be left with unnecessary pain—but men might be too. Now a study in the journal Brain reveals differences in the sensory nerves that enter the spinal cords of men and women with …

Better Living Through Crispr: Growing Human Organs in Pigs

Christie Hemm Klok Belmonte’s interest in the malleability of destiny was, on some level, personal. The child of poor, barely educated parents in rural southern Spain, he had been forced to drop out of school for a few years as a young boy to support his family with farmwork. Only as a teenager did he return to the classroom—at which point he promptly set off on a rapid trajectory from philosophy (Nietzsche and Schopenhauer were favorites) to pharmacology to genetics. By 2012, Belmonte was one of the world’s preeminent biologists, running his own lab at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, and another one in his native Spain. Like his colleagues all over the globe, he was pondering how …

What is the mysterious ‘global Hum’ and is it simply noise pollution?

Up to 4% of people are said to hear a strange low-pitched noise known as the Hum, but no source has ever been found. City life is one possible cause Whenever I wake up it is there and it is unbelievably loud. When nobody else can hear it you think you are going nuts, and it just wears you down, says Simon Payne, 55, from Cambridgeshire. Payne is a hearer of the mysterious global phenomenon known as the Hum. I have been desperate to get away from it, so I have stayed with friends and even moved house. The Hum is experienced as a consistent, low-pitched noise, much like the sound of a large truck idling in a nearby parking …

The Gene Mutation That Could Cure HIV Has a Checkered Past

In the three and a half decades since HIV/AIDS was discovered, the deadly disease has killed 35 million people. While drugs now allow patients to live long lives with the virus, only one man, an American named Timothy Ray Brown, otherwise known as the “Berlin patient,” is believed to have been cured. Now, it appears he’s no longer alone. This week, a team of British scientists from the University of Cambridge claimed to have successfully treated an HIV-positive man from London with the same stem-cell technique that Brown’s doctors used a decade ago. It involved transplanting the patient with bone marrow from a donor who had a naturally occurring mutation in a gene called CCR5. HIV uses the CCR5 protein …

Polio Is Nearly Wiped OutUnless Some Lab Tech Screws Up

In 1979, a photographer named Janet Parker got a disease that wasn't supposed to exist anymore. At first she thought she had the flu, but then she kept getting sicker, got a rash, and went to the hospital, where doctors—in disbelief—diagnosed her with smallpox. Just a year earlier, the World Health Organization had declared that "mankind probably had seen its last case of smallpox," according to The New York Times. That should have been true. But in a Birmingham University lab below Parker's darkroom, a scientist had been working furiously to finish up his viral research, before officials clamped down on the number of facilities studying the nearly dead disease. The scientist wasn't obeying safety protocols, and the virus escaped …

Gene Editing Is Trickier Than Expectedbut Fixes Are in Sight

Of all the big, world-remaking bets on the genome-editing tool known as Crispr, perhaps none is more tantalizing than its potential to edit some of humanity’s worst diseases right out of the history books. Just this week, Crispr Therapeutics announced it had begun treating patients with an inherited blood disorder called beta thalassemia, in the Western drug industry’s first test of the technology for genetic disease. But despite the progress, there remain a host of unknowns standing in the way of Crispr-based medicines going mainstream, chief among them safety. That’s because the classic, most widely used version of Crispr works by slicing open a strand of DNA in a specific spot in the genome and letting the cell stitch it …