The exponential growth and significant achievements that science has registered over the last couple of decades is making us want to see everything that is considered impossible happen practically anytime now! Even though science can never be believed to be perfect, it sure has thrown in a lot to ease numerous worldly worries. The year 2013 too has witnessed numerous scientific breakthroughs. Here are 6 exceptional scientific achievements of 2013!
6. Now We Know Why We Need Sleep!
Scientists have identified what can be called the first key mechanical answer as to why we need to sleep. So, after carrying an extensive study on a spanking pathway in mice, experts conclude
that it is in order to ‘clean the brain’ that we fall asleep.
Looked upon technically, channels that unite cells grow when the brain is latent, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to make it quite deep into the brain tissues. This helps flush out all toxic proteins that amass during daytime, including the toxic proteins that can lead to Alzheimer’s, one of the nastiest neurodegenerative diseases!
5. CRISPR – The Gene-editing Tool
Short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, CRISPR
has already gained huge popularity. Formed by a series of repetitive stretches that are broken up by tiny space sequences, CRISPR was found in bacteria and functions as an immune system against viruses.
Researchers are using the structure in the form of a gene-editing tool that can cut DNA at exact locations, that too at several places at the same time. This way, they are able to test what effects mutations can have inside a cell.
4. Mini Organs Grown Successfully
Scientists have succeeded
in growing a wide range of mini organs known as organoids. Till now, organoids have been used as a new way to examine diseases and for drug trials.
Researchers from Austria grew mini human brains that are the 3D tissue beads of the same size as apple seeds this year.
Researchers are using these tiny brains as a biological model to understand the development process of the brain and how it acquires disorders, despite the fact that there is no blood supply in these mini brains.
3. The Technique of CLARITY Imaging
With the help of this technique
, scientists are able to see through the brain in its original, intact form, without having to slice it up. The technical difference is that when sliced up, the brain’s cell connections used to get affected.
CLARITY involves the use of molecular resolution and helps scientists in studying intact brain. This way, they are able to generate bigger pictures and get finer details about the internal structure and functioning of the brain. This one, scientists believe, is the accomplishment of one of the major goals in the field of biology!
2. Human Stem Cells via Cloning
Scientists have successfully cloned human skin cells
to create human embryonic stem cells, one of the biggest unmet feats, which researchers have been working toward for long back now! The biggest advantage of the discovery is that it will help develop replacement tissues and thereafter, organs to treat numerous serious diseases, since stem cells are able to turn into almost all types of cells in the body.
Even more importantly – and this is what all of us have been waiting to happen for ages – the technique may even make it possible to produce cloned babies! For years, scientists have been making continuous (unsuccessful!) attempts toward producing stem cells through cloned human embryos and have ultimately done it now. The technique of cloning is almost the same as used earlier in the past to clone animals though!
1. Cancer Immunotherapy as the Real Breakthrough
The year 2013 has, as anticipated, seen one of the most-awaited breakthroughs in the history of science – cancer immunotherapy
. The technique, instead of directly targeting the tumor itself, promotes the use of body’s own immune system to eradicate tumors, and this is what makes it interesting.
The concept of cancer immunotherapy, everybody including researchers believes will be a paradigm shift in the way we have been tackling cancer. The idea is to train immune cells to fight back after recognizing cancer cells through their characteristics. The technique, however, has only worked in a few cases (and some particular cancer types only) so far and it’s still a long way for the scientists to go!