Biomedicine & Biotech

Using data on scientific citations and impact, a group of scientists reflect on what makes for innovative science in the hopes of crafting a formula.
For roughly 1 in every 10,000 people who are exposed to common viruses, like herpes simplex or the flu, encephalitis develops. This potentially deadly disease, an inflammation of the brain, is caused by the viruses ability to invade the brainstem. But why does this happen to a small subset of otherwise healthy children? 
Lack of genetic diversity can have dire consequences: illness, early death, even extinction for some species. A couple of cases in point — dogs and coffee — seem otherwise unrelated. But both can suffer deleterious effects because of uniform gene pools. But in both cases, genetic engineering could help.
In a proof-of-concept study, bioengineers have created a designer cell able to release an effective – and apparently non-addictive – analgesic. And it triggers its release by smelling a volatile component of spearmint.  
Late last year, when Germany unexpectedly voted in favor, European Union member states agreed to a five-year renewal period for glyphosate – instead of the originally proposed 15 years. This illustrates the “Era of Post-Truth” on scientific questions in the EU in general, and in France in particular.
A recent report on expanding the use of science in suspected homicides details the challenges of determining time of death after a long post-mortem interval. Estimating this interval is essential within forensic science dating back to 1894, when body decay stages and decomposition were first defined.
If you think that your dishwasher is sterile, you're wrong. In fact, it's not even that clean. New research finds that both bacteria and fungi are growing in there. And even though it's very unlikely that they'll hurt you, it's still pretty gross. 
On average, across natural habitats all over the world, the western honey bee is the most common pollinator, responsible for 13 percent of flower visits. Researchers also found that 5 percent of the plant species they studied were exclusively visited by the western honey bee.
“Their eyes tell their sad stories as ghostly white irises give way to vacant stares. We can look at them but they can’t look back at us. They’ve gone blind because of malnutrition.,” V. Ravichandran, a farmer in Tamil Nadu, India, describing children suffering from vitamin A deficiency. This is a dual tragedy — first, because more than two-thirds of the children referred to in Ravichandran’s commentary will be dead within a year — blindness from vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is an early sign of life-threatening debilitation — and second, because VAD could be prevented with an accessible, modern agricultural technology.
Researchers have once again turned to nature for inspiration: A team of chemists working for the U.S. Air Force used crystals extracted from butterfly wings to detect trace chemical warfare agents.
A new research study on the penetration mechanics of the beetle penis – its bending stiffness gradient compounded by its soft tip – could actually hold some promise in the medical-device realm of catheter design to further the understanding in erectile dysfunction. 
Golden rice lives up to its name, both for its color and the beneficial effect it can have on those (especially children) with vitamin A deficiency. Yet, the main obstacle preventing its distribution is the disinformation about genetically-engineered foods spread by anti-GMO Luddites. Let's hope that changes for the holidays.