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R & D

Dirty germs

Biologists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, California, have found that the soil beneath our feet may have a hundred times more species of bacteria than we previously thought. One gram of dirt can harbour 1,000,000 microbial species ' 99 per cent of them unknown germs, according to the journal Science.

Bone control

The density of our bones is controlled by our brain, say researchers at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The clue to this control has been revealed by the activity of a brain protein called Interleukin-1. The discovery may lead to a new treatment for osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, reports the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

GM chemical

Researchers at Rice University, Kansas, have devised a technology that uses a genetically modified form of the bacteria E. coli to metabolise glucose and produce succinate ' a key ingredient of many plastics, drugs and food additives. Finding a ‘green’ method for making succinate has always been a priority for chemical engineers.

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