Stem cell bank gives new hope to victims of inherited disease
The search for cures for fatal inherited diseases such as Huntington’s disease and muscular dystrophy will be transformed by a new bank of human embryonic stem (ES) cells launched this week. The private bank, which is the first of its kind in the world, includes 18 colonies of ES cells with rare genetic defects that trigger ten congenital diseases.
Scientists try to take the measure of fickle kilo
The future of the kilogram is in the balance: scientists want the international standard for mass to be redefined because it is too vague for the needs of modern physics. For more than a century, the mass of a kilogram has been fixed by that of a cylinder of metal sealed inside three locked safes at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris.
Europe launches super rocket
Upgraded Ariane 5 will deliver several satellites with each flight. Europe's reputation for rocket engineering got a boost with the successful launch of the Ariane 5 ECA at 21:03 GMT on 12 February. The 50-metre high rocket is Europe's largest, able to deliver up to 10 tonnes of payload into orbit around Earth. But its maiden voyage on 11 December 2002 ended in disaster when the vehicle veered dangerously off course and self-destructed just minutes into the flight.
A lucky break on Friday 13, 2029: giant asteroid will narrowly miss earth
A giant asteroid the size of three football pitches will make the closest flyby of Earth in recorded history for an object of its size, scientists said on Monday. It will pass between the Earth and the Moon and will even come closer than the orbit of many telecommunications satellites, although astronomers insisted that there was little chance of a collision with the massive rock.
Potato-based vaccine success comes too late
Genetically engineered potatoes containing a hepatitis B vaccine have successfully boosted immunity in their first human trials. But the newly-published study missed a moving target - drug developers are now abandoning their quest for vaccines contained in staple foods like bananas, tomatoes or potatoes.