eLife episode 28: From antibiotic resistance to artificial fingertips

23 March 2016
Presented by Chris Smith.

In this episode of the eLife podcast we hear about aging, artificial fingertips, ancient DNA, antibiotic resistance and dengue fever.

In this episode

00:35 - Gender divide

The guts of male and female fruit flies age differently.

Gender divide
with Jenny Regan, University College London

On average, males tend to live less long than females, and some diseases affect one sexRegan more commonly than the other.  So can a fly tell us why? Jenny Regan explained to Chris Smith why she thinks it can...

[Transcript to follow]

06:03 - Feeling better

An artificial fingertip can recreate a sense of touch.

Feeling better
with Calogero Oddo, University of Pisa

For people who have suffered an amputation of a hand, the current generation of Miceraprostheses can only go so far to replacing what they've lost. They can restore some of the aesthetic and motor properties of the absent body part, but what's still missing is a sense of fine touch that can tell, for instance, whether something is rough or smooth. And this is critical for being able to manipulate objects correctly. Now we're a step closer to being able to restore this missing modality thanks to a bionic finger that uses piezoresistive sensors to detect surface textures and turn them into nerve signals that an amputee's brain can understand. Calogero Oddo is its creator, and she spoke about it to Chris Smith.....

[Transcript to follow]

11:15 - Why did plagues stop?

DNA from 18th century teeth reveals plague secrets

Why did plagues stop?
with Kirsten Bos, University of Tuebingen

In the early middle ages up to half of the population of Europe were wiped out by the KrauseBlack Death, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. But, following its arrival, the initial pandemic wave waned and was replaced by a series of localised epidemics around Europe until the 18th Century, when it abruptly disappeared. So how do we account for this behaviour? From the University of Tuebingen, Kirsten Bos explained why to Chris Smith...

[Transcript to follow]

16:00 - Following the food chain

Genomics can track antibiotic resistance during beef production

Following the food chain
with Noelle Noyes, Colorado State University

Antibiotic resistance has been highlighted as a major medical risk facing the global Noyespopulation. And as bugs become increasingly difficult to treat, antimicrobial drug pipelines are ironically almost empty. One source of drug resistance might be the meat industry where antibiotics are administered to animals to keep them healthy and to encourage them to grow rapidly. But what risk does this pose? Colorado State University's Noelle Noyes has been following the food chain, as she explained to Chris Smith... 

[Transcript to follow]

21:12 - Risk assessment

An early warning system for dengue fever

Risk assessment
with Rachel Lowe, Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Barcelona

Millions of people succumb to dengue virus infection each year. It's spread by the Aedes Lowefamily of mosquitoes and causes a haemorrhagic fever, which can range in severity from mild to lethal. But predicting where the hotspots will be, so that appropriate healthcare provisions and anti-mosquito measures can be supplied to the right places is very difficult. Rachel Lowe, from the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Barcelona, has been tackling the problem with a bit of help from FIFA, as she explained to Chris Smith... 

[Transcript to follow]

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