How to tame a toxic yet life-saving antifungal

In this episode:

00:46 Modifying a fungal drug to make it less toxic

Amphotericin B is a drug used to treat life-threatening fungal infections. But while it is effective against many fungal species, it is also extremely toxic to kidneys, meaning it is mostly used as a drug of last-resort. This week, a team has unpicked the mechanism behind the drug’s toxicity, allowing them to modify it and reduce side effects in human kidney cells. The researchers hope this new version of the drug could become a useful tool in fighting fungal diseases.

Research article: Maji et al.

09:00 Research Highlights

Reconstructing woolly rhino DNA using samples from fossilized hyena dung, and a soft robot that can perform surgery inside a beating heart.

Research Highlight: Woolly-rhino genome emerges from cave hyena’s fossilized poo

Research Highlight: A robot performs heart surgery with a strong but delicate touch

11:26 Phosphorus found at the edge of our Galaxy

Phosphorus is a vital element for life and for planet formation, but although abundant in the inner part of the Milky Way, it has been undetected in the outer regions of our Galaxy. Now, researchers have identified phosphorus-containing molecules huge distances from Earth, although exactly how this phosphorus was created is unclear. The team suspect that lower-mass stars are behind the phosphorus generation, and believe that the detection of the element could broaden the range of planets that may be habitable in our Galaxy.

Research article: Koelemay et al.

18:14 Briefing Chat

What Osiris-REx’s hypersonic capsule return could teach researchers about asteroids hitting Earth’s atmosphere, and the genetic studies that could help restore the genomes of Scotland’s endangered ‘Highland tigers’.

Nature News: Asteroid sampler’s hypersonic return thrilled scientists: here’s what they learnt

Nature News: How to keep wildcats wild: ancient DNA offers fresh insights

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