April 27, 2016

A Greener Earth and More Good News

By Chelsea German
One Step Closer to Immortality 

The CEO of biotech company Bioviva USA, Inc., Elizabeth Parrish, has tested an experimental gene therapy on herself that may reverse the effects of aging. Telomeres are DNA segments that act as buffers protecting chromosomes from the wear and tear of aging, but as people grow older their telomeres shorten until they no longer properly serve their protective function. Parrish claims that she has successfully lengthened her telomeres through the gene therapy, undoing about twenty years of telomere damage. 

Earth is Getting Greener 

Usually, rising CO2 levels are bemoaned for their negative effects. However, a study published in Nature Climate Change called, “Greening of the Earth and its Drivers,” contains some good news: rising CO2 has dramatically increased the number of trees and other plants on the planet. CO2 has produced so much new greenery, that if the leaves of all the new plants were laid out like a carpet they would cover twice the total area of the United States. As the new plants absorb CO2, they slow down the pace of climate change. 

Malaria Vaccine Breakthrough: Resistant Mosquitoes No Longer an Issue 

Researchers may have found a way around one of the main obstacles blocking widespread use of a malaria vaccine. Previous malaria vaccines, like atovaquone, have seen limited use because mosquito populations can develop resistance to the vaccines through genetic mutation. However, an international team of researchers have discovered that the same mutation that grants mosquitoes resistance to atovaquone also severely shortens the mosquitoes’ lives. “The resistant parasites die before they can infect another person,” according to a member of the research team.

There is More Consumer Choice Than Ever 

Not only are people wealthier, but there are more choices available to us than ever before. In the United States, the average grocery store today contains roughly 50 times as many products as 80 years ago. The number of unique new products—a category including everything from cosmetics to food—introduced each year that consumers can choose from has actually increased 30-fold over the past half century. A recent Wall Street Journal article details this incredible explosion in consumer choice, and explores how social media has helped to connect new products with the people interested in buying them.