Synthetic organs, nanobots and DNA ‘scissors’: the future of medicine

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 09:00

In a new film to coincide with the recent launch of the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences, researchers discuss some of the most exciting developments in medical research and set out their vision for the next 50 years.

Professor Jeremy Baumberg from the NanoPhotonics Centre discusses a future in which diagnoses do not have to rely on asking a patient how they are feeling, but rather are carried out by nanomachines that patrol our bodies, looking for and repairing problems. Professor Michelle Oyen from the Department of Engineering talks about using artificial scaffolds to create ‘off-the-shelf’ replacement organs that could help solve the shortage of donated organs. Dr Sanjay Sinha from the Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute sees us using stem cell ‘patches’ to repair damaged hearts and return their function back to normal.

Dr Alasdair Russell from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute describes how recent breakthroughs in the use of CRISPR-Cas9 – a DNA editing tool – will enable us to snip out and replace defective regions of the genome, curing diseases in individual patients; and lawyer Dr Kathy Liddell, from the Cambridge Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, highlights how research around law and ethics will help to make gene editing safe.

Professor Gillian Griffiths, Director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, envisages us weaponising ‘killer T cells’ – important immune system warriors – to hunt down and destroy even the most evasive of cancer cells.

All of these developments will help transform the field of medicine, says Professor Chris Lowe, Director of the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences, who sees this as an exciting time for medicine. New developments have the potential to transform healthcare “right the way from how you handle the patient to actually delivering the final therapeutic product - and that’s the exciting thing”.

Read more about research on future therapeutics in Research Horizons magazine. 

Nanobots that patrol our bodies, killer immune cells hunting and destroying cancer cells, biological scissors that cut out defective genes: these are just some of technologies that Cambridge researchers are developing which are set to revolutionise medicine in the future.

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Two million years of human stories

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 08:00

One of the overarching mottos and principles of the Museum is “Look. Look again.” Spread over three floors, with ground-breaking exhibitions and one million objects in its stores, the Museum presents endless opportunities for visitors and researchers to look, then look again.

Among its collections are objects that speak to us of love and loss, conflict and war, and life and death. These objects of material culture communicate to us in many different ways – if we learn how to observe and listen to the myriad stories they have to tell.

But what is the place and purpose of ethnographic museums in the UK in the 21st century? As time marches us further and further away from Britain’s own contentious history of exploration and the Empire, can and should we be comfortable with such repositories – born from an imperial legacy that painted a quarter of the globe red?

For Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), the answers are clear. He believes that at a time when questions of cultural and religious differences are highly contentious, the renewal of displays that stimulate cross-cultural curiosity are more important than ever.

“The objects in MAA are not ‘dead’ objects,” he says. “The Museum is a place that brings its collections to life through its interactions with the public as well as the indigenous communities from which these artefacts originate, not to mention the world-class research that scholars and academics from Cambridge and around the globe undertake here every day.

“Museum collections are not just a mass gathering of objects, but a complex set of relationships, things, documents, images and people. Each collection is a tangled formation of material culture and human intention. We’re dealing not with lifeless data, but with people’s interests in making, using, collecting, interpreting, classifying and reclaiming things.

“That’s what makes our collections in particular so rich; it’s the web of information that might lie behind a single object of encounter that ensures such objects resonate to this day.”

MAA’s collections are extraordinary for a museum of its size. Fewer than 1% of its objects can be on display at any given time, but the stores are actively researched by a bewildering range of global scholars.

The Museum contains significant material from all over the world, with some of its best-documented collections hailing from the Pacific, including the world’s most important collection from the first voyage of Captain James Cook.

Cook’s three voyages of 1768–1780 were formative for the histories of exploration, anthropology, natural history and the Empire, and marked a new epoch in contacts between Europeans and indigenous peoples across the Pacific Islands and around the Pacific Rim.

Bequeathed by Cook’s patron Lord Sandwich to Trinity College in Cambridge and transferred to MAA during the early 20th century, the collection is probably the first extensive, systematically made ethnographic collection from any part of the world.

Recent projects have included research published in the leading archaeological journal Antiquity on the origins and history of a unique and enigmatic sculpture from the Cook collection. The carving, which features two double humanoid figures and a quadruped, is one of the Museum’s best-known objects and was long attributed to the Austral Islands in French Polynesia.

However, wood isotope analysis reveals that it is in fact from Tahiti, and carbon dating suggests that the work was 50–80 years old by the time Cook acquired it, changing our understanding of Oceania’s art history. Probably an element of a gateway into a sacred precinct, the carving was most likely preserved as a relic before being presented to the explorer. Its gifting implies the wish to build relationships with visitors who were perceived as powerful partners at that time.

It is often assumed that artefacts in ethnographic collections were appropriated from the communities that created them. Although some objects were indeed looted, many collections were created more collaboratively through trade and deliberate gift-giving.

MAA also holds important material from Uganda, brought to Cambridge primarily by the prominent missionary and ethnographer John Roscoe. Roscoe’s donations were supplemented by artefacts such as the necklet shown here. Worn by a royal bodyguard, it was gifted in 1902 by Apolo Kagwa, Katikiro (Prime Minister) of Uganda and the author of important anthropological studies, who travelled to England for the coronation of Edward VII.

Sixty years later, Abu Mayanja, a Cambridge law graduate and Minister for Education in the newly independent nation, asked the University to return certain sacred objects, which were repatriated, and remain on display in the Uganda Museum today.

“I think we see the repatriation question as an opportunity to open up a dialogue – rather than a threat,” adds Thomas. “MAA has a distinguished record in engaging with indigenous people in a sustained way. We have had many extended engagements and collaborations around research that have been very rewarding for all the parties involved. It’s also been an extremely positive experience to share our collections through lending to major exhibitions in the countries of origin.

“Another more meaningful way of working with indigenous communities has been projects such as ‘Pacific Presences’, funded currently for five years through a European Research Council advanced grant. Work on material culture almost inevitably involves international collaboration, and we have done so with many small, experimental exhibitions, sharing photographs with communities in the Pacific, as well as through work with partner museums across Europe.

“Benin bronzes notoriously exemplify colonial confrontation and conflict in Africa in the 1890s. We try at once to be upfront about difficult histories, and to communicate the complications of the histories. Like most museums, we receive very few outright repatriation requests. Many indigenous peoples prioritise working together. They see these objects as ambassadors for their cultures.”

Inset image: Sculpture of two double humanoid figures and a quadruped, one of a hundred artefacts brought back by Captain James Cook from his first voyage on the Endeavour, and presented by him to his Admiralty patron Lord Sandwich, who donated the collection to Trinity College, which in turn transferred the artefacts to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in the early 20th century. Credit: Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Every object in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology tells not just one but many stories. The Museum’s collections chronicle two million years of human history, revealing the diversity of human life over millennia and the ongoing dynamism of world cultures in the present. Many individual artefacts reflect histories and cultures that are contested.

Each collection is a tangled formation of material culture and human intention. We’re dealing not with lifeless data, but with people’s interests in making, using, collecting, interpreting, classifying and reclaiming things.Nicholas ThomasMuseum of Archaeology and AnthropologyNecklet worn by a royal bodyguard, gifted in 1902 by Apolo Kagwa, Katikiro of Uganda

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Make a difference to your city - Volunteer for Cambridge

Cambridge Council Feed - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 14:17

A ONE day fair at The Guildhall this month will bring together a range of local voluntary organisations to give residents and students an opportunity to learn about volunteering in Cambridge, and how they can get involved to help make a real difference to people’s lives.

Volunteer for Cambridge, hosted by Cambridge City Council and Cambridge Hub, takes place at the Guildhall in Cambridge from 11am-4pm on Saturday 21 October. It will feature a marketplace of 90 local charities, organisations and societies, which work to improve society and the environment through volunteering.

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Experts express concerns over infant mental health assessment

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 09:55

The consensus statement, published in the journal Attachment & Human Development, highlights the appropriate use and current limitations of a classification known as ‘Disorganised Infant Attachment’, which has been in use for over 30 years. The statement has been led by Professor Pehr Granqvist from Stockholm University and Dr Robbie Duschinsky from the University of Cambridge. Among the authors of the consensus statement are the originators of the classification, Mary Main and Judith Solomon. The classification is based on the ‘attachment theory’ proposed by renowned psychologist John Bowlby in 1969.

Bowlby emphasised that when infants get upset, they tend to turn to their familiar caregivers (usually their parents). However, attachment theory suggests that an infant who has been exposed to 'alarming behaviour' by their caregiver will experience conflict about whether or not it is safe to turn to the caregiver for comfort. One kind of alarming behaviour by a caregiver is abuse of the child.

However, other behaviours can also cause such conflict. For example, the authors point to a meta-analytic study in 2010 by Chantal Cyr (University of Quebec, Montreal) and colleagues at the University of Leiden, which found that when families had five or more socioeconomic risk factors – such as living in poverty, drug addiction, or not graduating from high school – then rates of Disorganised Infant Attachment were comparable to those in families where there is known to be abuse. This is understood to be because adults in such circumstances can exhibit alarming behaviours such as withdrawal from interacting with the child, or frightened behaviours as they interact with the child while also thinking about the dangers and adversity they face in their lives.

A classification of Disorganised Infant Attachment is assigned when an infant aged 12-20 months demonstrates certain behaviours during a so-called ‘Strange Situation’, where the care-giver departs the room, leaving the baby with a stranger – potentially upsetting the infant – before returning. The assessor looks for behaviours suggesting conflict about going to the caregiver for comfort; for instance, if on reunion with the caregiver, an infant falls to the floor, looking disoriented.

There has been a growth in recent years of social workers and clinicians using assessment of disorganised attachment to screen for child abuse. However, the consensus statement argues that this is a misapplication.

Not all abused children receive a disorganised attachment classification, so some abused infants will be missed if this assessment is relied upon alone; and many non-abused children do receive a disorganised classification, as a variety of alarming caregiver behaviours can predispose conflict behaviours, not just abuse.

“There are all kinds of things that might make a child alarmed by his or her care-giver,” says Dr Duschinsky from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Cambridge, one of the lead authors of the statement. “While the Disorganised Infant Attachment classification does offer some general indications regarding the history and future mental health of the child, it is much too blunt an instrument to be used for child protection assessment.”The consensus statement suggests that while the Disorganised Infant Attachment classification has its limitations, it can still be useful when used as part of a battery of tests, but it should not be relied on its own. The authors also conclude that the real practical utility of attachment theory and research resides in supporting understanding of families and in providing evidence-based, supportive interventions. Rather than press the disorganised classification as it stands inappropriately into service for child protection assessments, the consensus statement states that further work is a priority to see whether the classification can be further specified and validated for this purpose.

Dr Duschinsky’s own research – including a second paper published this month – has drawn upon John Bowlby’s historical archive at the Wellcome Library, London. This work fed directly into the consensus statement providing greater conceptual clarity about the nature of infant conflict behaviour. “It is unusual for historical work to feed into modern practice guidelines,” he says, “but my work shows that Bowlby’s ideas is still of relevance today.”

Dr Duschinsky is supported by a Wellcome Trust New Investigator Award.

Granqvist, P, et al. Disorganized attachment in infancy: a review of the phenomenon and its implications for clinicians and policy-makers. Attachment & Human Development; Published online 26 Jul 2017; DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2017.1354040

Solomon, J, et al. Toward an architecture of attachment disorganization: John Bowlby’s published and unpublished reflections. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry; Published online 9 August 2017; DOI: 10.1177/1359104517721959 

Forty world experts on child development and mental health have released a joint statement calling for caution when applying an influential classification for assessing infant mental health and potential cases of abuse.

The Disorganised Infant Attachment classification [...] is much too blunt an instrument to be used for child protection assessmentRobbie Duschinsky Joe SzilagyiToddler

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Winton Symposium tackles the challenge of energy storage and distribution

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 08:13

Storage and distribution of energy is seen as the missing link between intermittent renewable energy and reliability of supply, but current technologies have considerable room for improvements in performance. Speakers at the annual symposium, which is free and open to the public, will discuss some of the new technologies in this important area, and how understanding the basic science of these can accelerate their development.

“As intermittent forms of renewable energies continue to contribute to a larger share of our energy mix, there is an urgent need to store and efficiently distribute energy to ensure the lights stay on,” said Dr Nalin Patel, Winton Programme Manager at the University of Cambridge.

The one-day event is an opportunity for students, researchers and industrialists from a variety of backgrounds to hear a series of talks given by world-leading experts and to join in the debate. Speakers at the event will include Professor Harold Wilson, Programme Director of the UK Atomic Energy Authority; Professor Katsuhiko Hirose, Professional Partner at Toyota Motor Corporation; and Professor David Larbalestier, Director of the Applied Superconductivity Center, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University. The full programme of speakers is available online.

The symposium is organised by Professor Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Professor of Physics and Director of the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability and Dr Nalin Patel the Winton Programme Manager.

There is no registration fee for the symposium and complimentary lunch and drinks reception will be provided, however participants are required to register online. The event is open for all to attend.

The sixth annual Winton Symposium will be held on 9 November at the University’s Cavendish Laboratory on the theme of Energy Storage and Distribution.

There is an urgent need to store and efficiently distribute energy to ensure the lights stay on.Nalin Patel

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Conservationists’ eco-footprints suggest education alone won’t change behaviour

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 11:12

Conservationists work to save the planet, and few are as knowledgeable when it comes to the environmental pressures of the Anthropocene.

However, the first wide-ranging study to compare the environmental footprint of conservationists to those of other groupings – medics and economists, in this case – has found that, while conservationists behave in a marginally ‘greener’ manner, the differences are surprisingly modest.

Researchers say their findings add to increasing evidence that education and knowledge has little impact on individual behavior when it comes to major issues such as the environment and personal health.

Conservation scientists from the universities of Cambridge, UK, and Vermont, US, gathered data on a range of lifestyle choices – from bottled water use to air travel, meat consumption and family size – for 734 participants across the three groupings.

They found that fellow conservationists recycled more and ate less meat than either economists or medics, were similar to the other groups in how they travelled to work, but owned more cats and dogs.

The combined footprint score of the conservationists was roughly 16% less than that of economists, and 7% lower than the medics.

Nevertheless the average conservationist in the study’s sample took nine flights a year (half for work; half personal), ate meat or fish five times a week, and purchased very few offsets to their personal carbon emissions.

In fact, researchers found little correlation between the extent of environmental knowledge and environmentally-friendly behavior.

Moreover, greener action in one aspect of a person’s life did not predict it in any others – regardless of occupation. So a positive and relatively simple habit such as recycling did not appear to act as a “gateway” to more committed behaviour change.   

The team suggest that overall improvements might be most effectively achieved through tailored interventions: targeting higher-impact behaviors such as meat consumption and flying through government regulation and by incentivising alternatives. 

“While it may be hard to accept, we have to start acknowledging that increased education alone is perhaps not the panacea we would hope,” said lead author Andrew Balmford, Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge.

“Structural changes are key. For example, providing more affordable public transport, or removing subsidies for beef and lamb production. Just look at the effect of improved collection schemes on the uptake of recycling.

“The idea of ‘nudging’ – encouraging particular choices through changes in how cafes are laid out or travel tickets are sold, for instance – might have untapped potential to help us lower our footprint,” Balmford said.  

 “As conservationists we must do a great deal more to lead by example. Obvious starting points include changing the ways we interact, so that attending frequent international meetings is no longer regarded as essential to making scientific progress. For many of us flying is probably the largest contributor to our personal emissions.”

The study’s four authors offer their own mea culpa: pointing out that, between them, they have seven children, took 31 flights in 2016, and ate an average of two meat meals in the week before submitting their study – now published – to the journal Biological Conservation.

 “I don’t think conservationists are hypocrites, I think that we are human – meaning that some decisions are rational, and others, we rationalise,” said study co-author Brendan Fisher from the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Environment and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.  

“Our results show that conservationists pick and choose from a buffet of pro-environmental behaviours the same as everyone else. We might eat less meat and compost more, but we fly more – and many of us still commute significant distances in gas cars.”

For the study, researchers distributed surveys on environmental behavior through conservation, economics and biomedical organisations to targeted newsletters, mailing lists and social media groups.

Of the self-selecting respondents, there were 300 conservationists, 207 economists and 227 medics from across the UK and US.

The participants were also asked a series of factual questions on environmental issues – from atmospheric change to species extinction – and ways to most effectively lower carbon footprints.

“Interestingly, conservationists scored no better than economists on environmental knowledge and awareness of pro-environmental actions,” said Balmford.

Overall footprint scores were higher for males, US nationals, economists, and people with higher degrees and larger incomes, but were unrelated to environmental knowledge.

Fisher says the study supports the idea that ‘values’ are a key driver of behaviour. Across the professions, attaching a high value to the environment was consistently associated with a lower footprint: fewer personal flights and less food waste, for example.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a medic, economist, or conservationist, our study shows that one of the most significant drivers of your behaviour is how much you value the environment,” Fisher said. 

“Economists who care about the environment behave as well as conservationists.”

A new study shows that even those presumably best informed on the environment find it hard to consistently “walk the walk”, prompting scientists to question whether relying solely on information campaigns will ever be enough.  

While it may be hard to accept, we have to start acknowledging that increased education alone is perhaps not the panacea we would hopeAndrew Balmford

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‘Don’t put yourself through it again’: Thatcher papers reveal ‘distress’ after bruising election win

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 11:02

But despite winning 376 seats and 13.7million votes (compared to Labour’s 209 seats and just over 10million votes), the papers for 1987 are striking in their air of uncertainty and despondency, with one particularly prescient letter from Private Secretary Charles Powell imploring her not to fight another bruising election campaign.

As well as fighting off what Conservatives believed to be a particularly hostile press in the run-up to the election, 1987 proved a particularly troubled and unsettling year for both the Prime Minister and the country at large with the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, Hungerford massacre, King’s Cross fire, Enniskillen bombing, ‘Black Monday’ stock market crash, and the Great Storm all taking place during the course of a turbulent year.

The extraordinary Powell letter, opened to the public in full for the first time by the Churchill Archives Centre and the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, strikes a pleading tone to Lady Thatcher after congratulating the PM on her historic victory.

“All the same I hope you will not put yourself through it again,” says the letter. “The level of personal abuse thrown at you during the campaign was unbelievable and must take some toll, however stoic you are outwardly… In two or three years’ time you will have completed the most sweeping change this country has seen in decades and your place in history will be rivalled only in this century by Churchill. That’s the time to contribute to some other area.”

Responding to the letter several weeks ago, Lord Powell said: “I had actually forgotten writing the letter until Charles Moore cited it in his biography. It’s an unusual letter for a civil servant to send a Prime Minister, even on a very personal basis, reflecting the small size and intimacy of Number 10 especially in those days. I had been distressed to observe at close quarters the stress of a third election campaign and the back-biting it involved on Margaret Thatcher’s health and performance. In the light of subsequent events, my advice to her looks pretty sound.”


Although 1987 had its fair share of difficulties – not least a growing Tory disquiet around the upcoming ‘Poll Tax’, Thatcher did enjoy enormously successful visits to both the USA and the USSR, the latter to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev during March/April.

The success of the visit helped launch her election campaign and put clear water between her and Labour in the polls at a time when the gap had been narrowing, a constriction that provoked much disquiet in the Conservative ranks at all levels of the party machine.

While the Russia visit and resulting photos provided a bump to Thatcher and Conservative popularity, Thatcher had since 1983 consciously sought a better relationship with the Soviet leadership. In truth, Lady Thatcher was yet to be convinced by Gorbachev and played down expectations both before and after the visit, even in the face of overwhelmingly positive coverage both in the UK and behind the Iron Curtain.

The 1987 papers also bring back to light a forgotten episode on eve of poll when Lady Thatcher, being interviewed by David Dimbleby, made what could have been a potentially election-losing and career-ending comment. Asking a question about social division, Dimbleby suggested the PM never actually said she cared. In reply, she said: “Please. If people just drool and drivel that they care. I turn round and say ‘Right. I also look to see what you actually do.’”

Thatcher instantly regretted her choice of words and immediately apologised for her use of the phrase ‘drool and drivel’.

Historian Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the only person to have read all 50,000 pages of the 1987 papers in their entirety, said: “She was a bit lucky there, I think. Perhaps the immediate retraction and election victory saved her from having to live with endless taunting in later years.

“It’s hard to find anything quite like this exchange in the whole body of her public rhetoric (which amounted to more than 14 million words by the end of her Premiership) and her feelings about it were correspondingly high.”

On a lighter note, the papers for 1987 contain her Press Office briefing notes after Lady Thatcher was persuaded to appear on children’s TV, including the BBC’s Saturday Superstore. A briefing ahead of an interview for Smash Hits magazine carries the ominous warning ‘You may not enjoy this appearance – and if proof were needed, included an appendix with a short history of punk.

Noting that the genre was at its most extreme phase under the previous Labour government, the briefing went on to outline the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen and Anarchy in the UK, both highlighted in yellow to give these classic punk anthems even greater prominence.

Not content with her brief history of punk, the PM also gave a speech in Jamaica later that year referencing Bob Marley. Powell also sent her the words to Get Up, Stand Up.

While Thatcher may have proved her prowess at winning elections in 1987, she did come a cropper on the domestic front after appearing on a BBC science programme called Take Nobody’s Word For It with Professor Ian Fells of Newcastle University to demonstrate some basic chemistry including a recipe for bread.

“If you offer the viewing public a recipe on a TV programme with a title like that, it better be a good one – ideally foolproof,” added Collins. “Unfortunately this one wasn’t. Horrified officials found themselves receiving letters from people complaining they had tried the PM’s bread. One said it was ‘just like chewing gum’ and another ‘that it was bad enough to cry’. Later that same year, the Roux brothers sent her a book of patisserie recipes, though history does not record whether the gift had any connection to ‘Breadgate’.”

Margaret Thatcher’s third and final election victory dominates the 50,000 pages of her personal papers for the year 1987 – opening to the public from today at Churchill College, Cambridge.

I had been distressed to observe at close quarters the stress of a third election campaign and the back-biting it involved on Margaret Thatcher’s health and performance.Lord PowellThatcher speaking in the White House grounds during her 1987 visit to the USA

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Council to decide on changes to taxi fares and licensing policy following consultations

Cambridge Council Feed - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:06

POTENTIAL changes to taxi fares and taxi licensing rules are set to be discussed by Cambridge City Council, following consultations with the taxi trade and taxi users.

Two reports being presented to the council’s Licensing Committee on 16 October show the responses from two consultations held earlier this year.

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Fresh measures proposed to tackle punt tour tout nuisance

Cambridge Council Feed - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 16:14

COUNCILLORS will this evening discuss fresh proposals to tackle nuisance punt tour touts in Cambridge city centre and will receive an update on Cambridge City Council’s High Court injunction too.

A report will be presented to councillors proposing measures to reinforce the public spaces protection order (PSPO) introduced last year in response to complaints about punt tour touts.

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Council making progress to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change

Cambridge Council Feed - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:53

AN ANNUAL report has outlined the work Cambridge City Council has been doing to help the city respond to climate change including by reducing carbon emissions from its buildings and operations, and among residents, businesses and visitors.

In total, projects completed during 2016-17 and those scheduled for completion in 2017-18 are expected to reduce the council’s CO2 emissions by 658 tonnes per year.

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Breathing new life into asthma treatment

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 23:57

I don’t think I will ever forget the moment I sat at the bedside of a six-year-old patient and watched the consultant hand over a 13-year-old student’s design to help with the patient’s asthma treatment. It has been the culmination of a long journey that started eight years ago with the belief that children can solve real world problems as part of the mainstream Design and Technology curriculum.

Designing Our Tomorrow (DOT) is an initiative that puts authentic challenges like this at the heart of the learning experience. Asthma treatment is the epitome of such a challenge. With 5.4 million people in the UK with the condition, the NHS spends about £1 Billion on treatment, and yet 1,468 people died from asthma in 2015. Tragically, it is believed that 90% of these deaths involve preventable factors and similarly 75% of A&E admission are thought to be avoidable.

We set the challenge in schools for students to design a packaging solution that will help co-ordinate the initial treatment for young asthma patients, to put the patient and their carers on the right path to controlling what is typically a long-term condition. A recent survey highlighted that over 80% of people, of all ages, feel that their asthma is not under control. Crucially we wanted students to address the anxiety that a child feels the first time a spacer mask is placed on their face. Students watched a video of a real instance of this, where the child recoils backwards each time the mask is placed over their mouth.

This is a complex, messy problem requiring solutions that are not only effective but cheap, simple to use and scalable. When I first saw the monkey mask design, where the child becomes a monkey and the inhaler and spacer becomes a banana to feed to it, I knew we had something special. It is so simple, so elegant as a design solution, and gets to the very heart of the child’s initial anxiety. Changing that moment from fear to fun for the patient as well as other family members makes it a better experience for all.

Alongside this we have worked with students to develop posters that remind patients to always use their spacer. In addition, we have developed a simple traffic light system explaining the narrowing of airways in the lungs and why and how it can be controlled. The credit card-sized printout can be easily clipped to a healthcare professional’s ID badge so it is always to hand.

This is a significant moment in our journey as engineers and educators, and we are so grateful for all the people that have partnered with us on this journey. The list of names would be too long, but I do want to mention the organisations that have walked the journey with us. The Healthy London Partnership, Children and Young People’s programme (a collaboration of the health and social care system across London), whose passion and skill around asthma has been an inspiration. On the packaging side the British Printing Industry Federation (BPiF) and The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) who have guided us in the realities of packaging design and production; DS Smith who turned around amazing designs in such short timescales; Peter Brett Associates who believed in the project when it was just an idea; and last, but by no means least, the teachers and students who brought it to life in the classroom.

This was perfectly timed to fit with the Healthy London Partnership #AskAbout Asthma campaign and our pledge is to run the ‘Unpacking Asthma’ challenge in schools again in this academic year. We are confident that students will come up with more ideas that can help with this vital work.

It’s hard not to sound corny, but Churchill’s words come to mind for the vision we had for DOT eight years ago, “now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. We hope that this work will go on to play a part in transforming asthma care and help us towards our goal of equipping future generations to be creative problem solvers. In other words, for young people to design a better tomorrow.

Ian Hosking from Cambridge’s Engineering Design Centre is co-founder and co-leader of Designing Our Tomorrow, which brings real-world problems into classroom design and technology sessions. Here, he describes the culmination of a year-long project in which secondary school students designed packaging solutions for the treatment of childhood asthma. 

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Prehistoric humans are likely to have formed mating networks to avoid inbreeding

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 19:00

The study, reported in the journal Science, examined genetic information from the remains of anatomically modern humans who lived during the Upper Palaeolithic, a period when modern humans from Africa first colonised western Eurasia. The results suggest that people deliberately sought partners beyond their immediate family, and that they were probably connected to a wider network of groups from within which mates were chosen, in order to avoid becoming inbred.

This suggests that our distant ancestors are likely to have been aware of the dangers of inbreeding, and purposely avoided it at a surprisingly early stage in prehistory.

The symbolism, complexity and time invested in the objects and jewellery found buried with the remains also suggests that it is possible that they developed rules, ceremonies and rituals to accompany the exchange of mates between groups, which perhaps foreshadowed modern marriage ceremonies, and may have been similar to those still practised by hunter-gatherer communities in parts of the world today.

The study’s authors also hint that the early development of more complex mating systems may at least partly explain why anatomically modern humans proved successful while other species, such as Neanderthals, did not. However, more ancient genomic information from both early humans and Neanderthals is needed to test this idea.

The research was carried out by an international team of academics, led by the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. They sequenced the genomes of four individuals from Sunghir, a famous Upper Palaeolithic site in Russia, which is believed to have been inhabited about 34,000 years ago.

The human fossils buried at Sunghir represent a rare and highly valuable source of information because, very unusually for finds from this period, the people buried there appear to have lived at the same time and were buried together. To the researchers’ surprise, however, these individuals were not closely related in genetic terms; at the very most, they were second cousins. This is true even in the case of two children who were buried head-to-head in the same grave.

Professor Eske Willerslev, who holds posts both as a Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, and at the University of Copenhagen, was the senior author on the study. “What this means is that even people in the Upper Palaeolithic, who were living in tiny groups, understood the importance of avoiding inbreeding,” he said. “The data that we have suggest that it was being purposely avoided.”

“This means that they must have developed a system for this purpose. If small hunter–gatherer bands were mixing at random, we would see much greater evidence of inbreeding than we have here.”

Early humans and other hominins such as Neanderthals appear to have lived in small family units. The small population size made inbreeding likely, but among anatomically modern humans it eventually ceased to be commonplace; when this happened, however, is unclear.

“Small family bands are likely to have interconnected with larger networks, facilitating the exchange of people between groups in order to maintain diversity,” Professor Martin Sikora, from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, said.

Sunghir contains the burials of one adult male and two younger individuals, accompanied by the symbolically-modified incomplete remains of another adult, as well as a spectacular array of grave goods. The researchers were able to sequence the complete genomes of the four individuals, all of whom were probably living on the site at the same time. These data were compared with information from a large number of both modern and ancient human genomes.

They found that the four individuals studied were genetically no closer than second cousins, while an adult femur filled with red ochre found in the children’s’ grave would have belonged to an individual no closer than great-great grandfather of the boys. “This goes against what many would have predicted,” Willerslev said. “I think many researchers had assumed that the people of Sunghir were very closely related, especially the two youngsters from the same grave.”

The people at Sunghir may have been part of a network similar to that of modern day hunter-gatherers, such as Aboriginal Australians and some historical Native American societies. Like their Upper Palaeolithic ancestors, these people live in fairly small groups of around 25 people, but they are also less directly connected to a larger community of perhaps 200 people, within which there are rules governing with whom individuals can form partnerships.

“Most non-human primate societies are organised around single-sex kin where one of the sexes remains resident and the other migrates to another group, minimising inbreeding,” Professor Marta Mirazón Lahr, from the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies at the University of Cambridge, said. “At some point, early human societies changed their mating system into one in which a large number of the individuals that form small hunter-gatherer units are non-kin. The results from Sunghir show that Upper Palaeolithic human groups could use sophisticated cultural systems to sustain very small group sizes by embedding them in a wide social network of other groups.”

By comparison, genomic sequencing of a Neanderthal individual from the Altai Mountains who lived around 50,000 years ago indicates that inbreeding was not avoided. This leads the researchers to speculate that an early, systematic approach to preventing inbreeding may have helped anatomically modern humans to thrive, compared with other hominins.

This should be treated with caution, however: “We don’t know why the Altai Neanderthal groups were inbred,” Sikora said. “Maybe they were isolated and that was the only option; or maybe they really did fail to develop an available network of connections. We will need more genomic data of diverse Neanderthal populations to be sure.”

Willerslev also highlights a possible link with the unusual sophistication of the ornaments and cultural objects found at Sunghir. Group-specific cultural expressions may have been used to establish distinctions between bands of early humans, providing a means of identifying who to mate with and who to avoid as partners.

“The ornamentation is incredible and there is no evidence of anything like that with Neanderthals and other archaic humans,” Willerslev added. “When you put the evidence together, it seems to be speaking to us about the really big questions; what made these people who they were as a species, and who we are as a result.”

The research paper, Ancient genomes show social and reproductive behaviour of early Upper Paleolithic foragers, is published in the October 5 issue of Science

Early humans seem to have recognised the dangers of inbreeding at least 34,000 years ago, and developed surprisingly sophisticated social and mating networks to avoid it, new research has found.

When you put the evidence together, it seems to be speaking to us about the really big questions; what made these people who they were as a species, and who we are as a resultEske WillerslevJosé-Manuel Benito Álvarez via Wikimedia CommonsDetail of one of the burials from Sunghir, in Russia.

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Opinion: Could we build a Blade Runner-style 'replicant'?

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:05

The new Blade Runner sequel will return us to a world where sophisticated androids made with organic body parts can match the strength and emotions of their human creators. As someone who builds biologically inspired robots, I’m interested in whether our own technology will ever come close to matching the “replicants” of Blade Runner 2049.

The reality is that we’re a very long way from building robots with human-like abilities. But advances in so-called soft robotics show a promising way forward for technology that could be a new basis for the androids of the future.

From a scientific point of view, the real challenge is replicating the complexity of the human body. Each one of us is made up of millions and millions of cells, and we have no clue how we can build such a complex machine that is indistinguishable from us humans. The most complex machines today, for example the world’s largest airliner, the Airbus A380, are composed of millions of parts. But in order to match the complexity level of humans, we would need to scale this complexity up about a million times.

There are currently three different ways that engineering is making the border between humans and robots more ambiguous. Unfortunately, these approaches are only starting points, and are not yet even close to the world of Blade Runner.

There are human-like robots built from scratch by assembling artificial sensors, motors and computers to resemble the human body and motion. However, extending the current human-like robot would not bring Blade Runner-style androids closer to humans, because every artificial component, such as sensors and motors, are still hopelessly primitive compared to their biological counterparts.

There is also cyborg technology, where the human body is enhanced with machines such as robotic limbs, wearable and implantable devices. This technology is similarly very far away from matching our own body parts.

Finally, there is the technology of genetic manipulation, where an organism’s genetic code is altered to modify that organism’s body. Although we have been able to identify and manipulate individual genes, we still have a limited understanding of how an entire human emerges from genetic code. As such, we don’t know the degree to which we can actually programme code to design everything we wish.

Soft robotics: a way forward?

But we might be able to move robotics closer to the world of Blade Runner by pursuing other technologies, and in particular by turning to nature for inspiration. The field of soft robotics is a good example. In the last decade or so, robotics researchers have been making considerable efforts to make robots soft, deformable, squishable and flexible.

This technology is inspired by the fact that 90% of the human body is made from soft substances such as skin, hair and tissues. This is because most of the fundamental functions in our body rely on soft parts that can change shape, from the heart and lungs pumping fluid around our body to the eye lenses generating signals from their movement. Cells even change shape to trigger division, self-healing and, ultimately, the evolution of the body.

The softness of our bodies is the origin of all their functionality needed to stay alive. So being able to build soft machines would at least bring us a step closer to the robotic world of Blade Runner. Some of the recent technological advances include artificial hearts made out of soft functional materials that are pumping fluid through deformation. Similarly, soft, wearable gloves can help make hand grasping stronger. And “epidermal electronics” has enabled us to tattoo electronic circuits onto our biological skins.

Softness is the keyword that brings humans and technologies closer together. Sensors, motors and computers are all of a sudden integrated into human bodies once they became soft, and the border between us and external devices becomes ambiguous, just like soft contact lenses became part of our eyes.

Nevertheless, the hardest challenge is how to make individual parts of a soft robot body physically adaptable by self-healing, growing and differentiating. After all, every part of a living organism is also alive in biological systems in order to make our bodies totally adaptable and evolvable, the function of which could make machines totally indistinguishable from ourselves.

It is impossible to predict when the robotic world of Blade Runner might arrive, and if it does it will probably be very far in the future. But as long as the desire to build machines indistinguishable from humans is there, the current trends of robotic revolution could make it possible to achieve that dream.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Could replicants ever be a reality? In this article from The Conversation, Fumiya Iida (Department of Engineering) discusses what it would take to make a truly life-like robot. 

Henrique CostaDeckard

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Investigating the politics of the past in the present

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:00

Heritage is a word that conjures up images of national treasures and the preservation of ancient traditions. All that is changing. In a world in which the forces of globalisation and fragmentation appear to be pulling communities in opposite directions heritage has found itself at the centre of many of today’s big political and philosophical questions.

“Heritage is now a word that is heard everywhere, a symptom perhaps of a crisis of identity in a globalised world,” says Dr Dacia Viejo Rose, Lecturer in Heritage and the Politics of the Past. “There is a buzz around heritage today as people start to think about it in new ways, linking it with political, economic and environmental issues.”

Some of those debates include the contentious issue of memorials and memorialisation - witness the debate around the confederate statues in the US or decolonisation in the UK and South Africa - forced migration, trafficking of artefacts and sustainable development.

A new research centre launches at the University of Cambridge this autumn which aims to bring a unique, interdisciplinary perspective to the subject. Grounded in Archaeology, the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre seeks to link disciplines as diverse as Classics, Criminology, Education, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Land Economy, and to bring in policymakers and practitioners to discuss and influence some of the big issues of the day and how we understand the role of heritage plays in them.

Professor Marie-Louise Stig Sørensen, co-director of the new centre, says its establishment is a response to a changing world: "Heritage refers to the use of the past and due to the globalisation and mediasation of our lives these centrally important dimensions of how societies form themselves and manage change are changing very fast - we need to understand these processes of heritage making and their effects better."

Unlike other research bodies in Europe which are looking at sustainable heritage issues or taking a critical approach to heritage, the Cambridge centre’s focus will be broader and will not follow any particular theoretical framework. “We will explore the nature of heritage and the process of meaning making which always happens in the present,” says co-director Dr Viejo Rose.
There are many researchers at the university who are already working on areas linked to what the research centre will investigate, but they may not use the word heritage to describe it or may use it in different ways. The centre will bring them together.

Subjects such as Land Economy cover sustainable development and the commercialisation of heritage through tourism. Dr Viejo Rose says: “Often heritage is brought in as if it was magic fairy dust, creating jobs and attracting tourists, but it can fuel tensions over ownership of the heritage and its commercialisation.” Criminology covers the looting and illicit trade of cultural objects, criminal networks and the trafficking both of culture, ideas and people.

The centre will also seek to look at the overlap between protection of heritage and nature conservation and at migration issues. “It is in part about roots, and but increasingly also about routes,” says Dr Viejo Rose, “about how heritage moves, what gets left behind, what is taken on journeys, what hybrid forms are created in different places.”

She has recently collaborated on a research study with Syrian tour guides in Berlin museums through the project “Multaka: Museums as Meeting Point”. The guides were asked for their views on the Arch of Palmyra. “They felt a sense of loss about the destruction, but what they grieved for most acutely was not the Arch, but rather the tradition of routine gatherings with neighbours, friends and family that was at the heart of Syrian community. Organisations like UNESCO often focus on the extraordinary aspects of heritage, whereas significant expressions of heritage are often to be found in the ordinary. Protection and reparation measures need to find a balance between the two,” she says.

The centre is holding three pre-launch events on rebuilding Syria at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas from 21st October in a bid to encourage as broad a range of people as possible to think about some of the issues around heritage.

The events, “Restoring truth to ruins?”, include a three-week exhibition at the Central Librarya workshop with art installations, virtual reality headsets with scans of heritage sites in Syria before and after the war and 3D printed artefacts and a panel discussion with artists and academics.

The theme of this year's Festival is truth and so these events will explore what truth means in terms of heritage and whose truth is being reflected in reparation projects - issues which are at the heart of discussions around reconstruction, reproduction and authenticity.

All three events look to address questions such as whether you can ever fully restore a heritage site that has been lost and what you gain and lose in the process of restoration as well as why certain artefacts acquire meaning and become important.

"The aim is to get people of all ages to think about what reconstruction might involve," says Sarah Nankivell who was a research assistant on the exhibition and is now working for the Forensic Architecture group at Goldsmith's. She adds: "We want people to ask, for example, what impact the process of reconstruction or reinterpretation might have on both the original and its replica and whether that changes the meaning or increases/decreases the value of either. Heritage has been a deliberate target of war over history, but now we have the technology to look at preservation in new ways which brings new questions. Heritage often says more about the people who are living now than those who lived in the past. It reflects the values of the present and what people want to bring from the past into the present."

A new heritage research centre will investigate the changing face of heritage studies, now at the centre of many of today's big debates.

Heritage is now a word that is heard everywhere, a symptom perhaps of a crisis of identity in a globalised world.Dacia Viejo RoseC Shane ByrdRestoring Syria's ruins

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Study identifies factors linked to dying comfortably for the very old

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 09:22

In a study published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, the researchers argue that their findings highlight the need to improve training in end-of-life care for all staff, in all settings, and in particular to address the current shortage of palliative care doctors in the NHS.

As life expectancy increases, so more and more people are dying at increasingly older ages, often affected by multiple conditions such as dementia, heart disease and cancer, which make their end-of-life care complicated. In the UK, in just a quarter of a century the proportion of deaths occurring at the age of 85 or older has risen steeply from around one in five in 1990 to almost half of all current deaths.

Older people living with dementia commonly report multiple symptoms as they approach the end-of-life, and if these symptoms are not adequately controlled, they may increase distress and worsen an individual’s quality of life.

While some people close to the end-of-life may prefer to die at home, only a minority of the ‘oldest old’ (those aged 85 years and above) actually die in their own homes. In the UK, fewer older people die in hospices or receive specialist palliative care at home than younger age groups, and the trend for older deaths is gradually moving away from death in hospital towards long-term care facilities.

Little is known about symptom control for ‘older old’ people or whether care in different settings enables them to die comfortably. To address this gap in our knowledge, researchers from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health examined the associations between factors potentially related to comfort during very old people’s final illness: physical and cognitive disability, place of care and transitions in their final illness, and place of death. This involved a retrospective analysis of data for 180 study participants aged between 79 and 107 years.

The researchers found that just one in 10 participants died without symptoms of distress, pain, depression, and delirium or confusion, and most people had in fact experienced combinations of two or more of these symptoms. Of the treatable symptoms reported, pain was addressed in the majority, but only effectively for half of these; only a fraction of those with depression received treatment for their symptom.

Compared with people who died in hospital, the odds of being reported as having died comfortably were four times as high for people whose end-of-life care had been in a care home or who died at their usual address, whether that was their own home or a care home.

People living in the community who relied on formal services for support more than once a week, and people who were cared for at home during their final illness but then died in hospital, were less likely to have reportedly died comfortably.

“How we care for the oldest members of society towards the end of their lives is one of the big issues for societies across the world,” says Dr Jane Fleming from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, the study’s first author. “The UK is not the only country where an urgent review of the funding for older people’s long-term care is needed, along with commitments to staff training and development in this often undervalued sector.

“It’s heartening that the majority of very old people in our study, including those with dementia, appear to have been comfortable at the end-of-life, but we need to do more to ensure that everyone is able to die comfortably, wherever they are.”

The authors of the study argue that it highlights the need to improve training in end-of-life care for all staff, at all levels and in all settings.

“Improving access to supportive and palliative care in the community should be a priority, otherwise staying at home may not always be the most comfortable setting for end-of-life care, and inadequacies of care may lead to admission before death in hospital,” adds co-author Dr Morag Farquhar, who is now based at the University of East Anglia.

Contrary to public perceptions, the authors say their study demonstrates that good care homes can provide end-of-life care comparable to hospice care for the very old, enabling continuity of care from familiar staff who know their residents. However, they say, this needs recognising and supporting through valuing staff, providing access to training and improving links with primary and community healthcare providers.

“In the UK, we particularly need to address the current shortage of palliative care doctors in the NHS, where training numbers are not going up to match demand, but the shortage is even greater in developing countries,” says co-author Rowan Calloway.

“In the future, community care will be increasingly reliant on non-specialists, so it will be crucial that all members of the multi-disciplinary teams needed to support very frail older people near the end of their lives have good training in palliative and supportive care skills.”

The study was supported by the Abbeyfield Society, Bupa Foundation, Medical Research Council, and the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health and Care Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

Fleming, J et al. Dying comfortably in very old age with or without dementia in different care settings – a representative "older old" population study. BMC Geriatrics; 26 Sept 2017; DOI: 10.1186/s12877-017-0605-2

Very old people are more likely to die comfortably if they die in a care home or at home, compared with dying in a hospital, suggests a new study from the University of Cambridge. Yet while the overwhelming majority of very old people reported symptoms at the end of life such as distress, pain and depression, the study found that these were not always treated effectively.

How we care for the oldest members of society towards the end of their lives is one of the big issues for societies across the worldJane FlemingSheila SundRose by Pool

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Cambridge alumnus and former research associate awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 11:23

Henderson completed his PhD in 1970, carrying out his research under the supervision of David Blow at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where he is currently based. He is an Emeritus Fellow of Darwin College and an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi.

Frank, now based at Columbia University, New York, USA, was a senior research associate at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory from 1973-1975.

The three researchers have received the award "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution". According to the Nobel Committee, this method “has moved biochemistry into a new era”.

Dr Luca Pellegrini from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge said: "We’re delighted about the news that the 2017 Nobel prize in Chemistry was jointly awarded to Dr Richard Henderson of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. The award recognises Dr Henderson’s long-standing interest in electron microscopy and its application to fundamental biological problems.

"The pioneering research carried out by Dr Henderson in the field of electron microscopy has revolutionised the structural investigation of biological specimens under native conditions, leading to a major breakthrough in our ability to obtain high-resolution images of macromolecular assemblies of biological and medical interest."

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, from the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, said: “I think it is wonderful. A visual image is the essential component to understanding, often the first one to open our eyes, and so our minds, to a scientific breakthrough.”

This brings the total number of affiliates of the University of Cambridge who have been awarded the Nobel Prize to 98.

Cambridge alumnus Richard Henderson (Corpus Christi College, 1966) has been jointly awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with former Cambridge University senior research associate Joachim Frank, and Jacques Dubochet from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Royal Swedish Academy of SciencesNobel Prize in ChemistryCool microscope technology revolutionises biochemistry

A picture is a key to understanding. Scientific breakthroughs often build upon the successful visualisation of objects invisible to the human eye. However, biochemical maps have long been filled with blank spaces because the available technology has had difficulty generating images of much of life’s molecular machinery. Cryo-electron microscopy changes all of this. Researchers can now freeze biomolecules mid-movement and visualise processes they have never previously seen, which is decisive for both the basic understanding of life’s chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals.

Electron microscopes were long believed to only be suitable for imaging dead matter, because the powerful electron beam destroys biological material. But in 1990, Richard Henderson succeeded in using an electron microscope to generate a three-dimensional image of a protein at atomic resolution. This breakthrough proved the technology’s potential.

Joachim Frank made the technology generally applicable. Between 1975 and 1986 he developed an image processing method in which the electron microscope’s fuzzy twodimensional images are analysed and merged to reveal a sharp three-dimensional structure.

Jacques Dubochet added water to electron microscopy. Liquid water evaporates in the electron microscope’s vacuum, which makes the biomolecules collapse. In the early 1980s, Dubochet succeeded in vitrifying water – he cooled water so rapidly that it solidified in its liquid form around a biological sample, allowing the biomolecules to retain their natural shape even in a vacuum.

Following these discoveries, the electron microscope’s every nut and bolt have been optimised. The desired atomic resolution was reached in 2013, and researchers can now routinely produce three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. In the past few years, scientific literature has been filled with images of everything from proteins that cause antibiotic resistance, to the surface of the Zika virus. Biochemistry is now facing an explosive development and is all set for an exciting future.

Information taken from a press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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Future Champions win grants to help them on the road to sporting success

Cambridge Council Feed - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 10:56

ELEVEN of Cambridge’s talented young sportspeople received grants to help them make the most of their sporting prowess at an awards ceremony last week.

The young people were this year’s recipients of grants from the Sir Arthur Marshall Future Champions Programme administered by Cambridge City Council and sponsored by Marshall of Cambridge.

The scheme awards grants each year to outstanding able-bodied and disabled sportspeople aged 11-25 competing at county or regional level, to help support their development by funding things like coaching, equipment, transport and fees.

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Arbury Court improvement project set to be given green light

Cambridge Council Feed - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 09:50

ARBURY Court local centre’s public space is set to undergo a £200,000 refurbishment programme from Cambridge City Council, if a proposed scheme is approved by councillors.

Under the proposed scheme, the public space around the shops will feature a woodland-themed design, upgraded street furniture, improved signage and lighting, new surfacing, and improvements to entrance points including the pedestrian crossing.

The proposed scheme draws on feedback from a public consultation undertaken in spring, 2017, where 78% of respondents supported the draft design concepts.

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Council launches smoke-free play area poster competition

Cambridge Council Feed - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 16:01

CAMBRIDGE City Council has launched a competition on the theme of, ‘Keep Our Play Area Smokefree’, inviting young people to design a poster that will educate and encourage local people not to smoke in fenced children’s play areas.

The winning poster design will be used to identify voluntary ‘smokefree zones’ at the following four fenced outdoor play sites in the city: Cherry Hinton Hall, Coleridge Recreation Ground, Jesus Green and King’s Hedges Recreation Ground.  The posters form part of a six month trial to encourage people not to smoke in fenced outdoor play areas. 

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