Could this one-time ‘epigenetic’ treatment control cholesterol?

In this episode:

00:49 What caused the Universe to become fully transparent?

Around 13 billion years ago, the Universe was filled with a dense ‘fog’ of neutral hydrogen that blocked certain wavelengths of light. This fog was lifted when the hydrogen was hit by radiation in a process known as reionisation, but the source of this radiation has been debated. Now, researchers have used the JWST to peer deep into the Universe’s past and found that charged particles pouring out from dwarf galaxies appear to be the the main driver for reionization. This finding could help researchers understand how some of the structures we now see in the Universe were formed.

Research article: Atek et al.

08:46 Research Highlights

Ancient inscriptions could be the earliest example of the language that became Basque, and how researchers etched a groove… onto soap film.

Research Highlight: Ancient bronze hand’s inscription points to origins of Basque language

Research Highlight: Laser pulses engrave an unlikely surface: soap films

11:05 Controlling cholesterol with epigenetics

To combat high cholesterol, many people take statins, but because these drugs have to be taken every day researchers have been searching for alternatives. Controlling cholesterol by editing the epigenome has shown promise in lab-grown cells, but its efficacy in animals was unclear. Now, researchers have shown the approach can work in mice, and have used it to silence a gene linked to high cholesterol for a year. The mice show markedly lowered cholesterol, a result the team hope could pave the way for epigenetic therapeutics for humans.

Research Article: Cappelluti et al.

18:52 The gene mutation explaining why humans don’t have tails

Why don’t humans and other apes have a tail? It was assumed that a change must have happened in our genomes around 25 million years ago that resulted in the loss of this flexible appendage. Now researchers believe they have pinned down a good candidate for what caused this: an insertion into a particular gene known as TBXT. The team showed the key role this gene plays by engineering mice genomes to contain a similar change, leading to animals that were tail-less. This finding could help paint a picture of the important genetic mutations that led to the evolution of humans and other apes.

Nature News: How humans lost their tails — and why the discovery took 2.5 years to publish

Research Article: Xia et al.

News and Views: A mobile DNA sequence could explain tail loss in humans and apes

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