On the radar


The pick of the science news...

One in the eye:

The inner blood-retina barrier currently blocks the vast majority of clinically validated drugs for treating degenerative eye disease. But the Trinity team has demonstrated a technique in pre-clinical models to open the barrier transiently to small molecules, such as therapeutic drugs, while keeping harmful substances out.

The approach could open up treatment avenues for progressive sight loss and other conditions, according to researcher Dr Matthew Campbell.

“Aspects of this technology could be adapted for a range of neuro-degenerative conditions, including Alzheimers disease and multiple sclerosis, while also potentially allowing for enhanced drug delivery to untreatable brain tumours,” he says.

DNA packs it in: A new study has shed light on how metres of DNA pack up to fit into a cell. Chromosomes fold into “fractal globules”, according to a report in the journal, Science, describing how US researchers used a new technology to visualise the three-dimensional structure of chromosomes, or packages of DNA.

Interestingly, they found that the genetic material was segregated into two separate domains according to the nature of its activity.

“One compartment contains all the active parts of the genome – they’re all clustered in a single compartment – whereas the other compartment contains all the parts of the genome that, at least in these cells, seem to be not active,” researcher Job Dekker told a Science podcast.

By numbers: 23 The percentage volume shrinkage in the memory and learning region of a captive bird’s brain compared to its free counterpart, according to a study of chickadees at Cornell University in New York state

“I’m not necessarily surprised – you just never know how these things are going to go" LCROSS principal investigator Anthony Colaprete on the lack of a plume when Nasa crashed a lunar probe into the moon’s surface last week (reported by Science Now)