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Health & Disease

Mucus: the body’s unsung hero

The slimy stuff has a surprisingly wide array of beneficial biological functions

How 3-D printing could help shape surgery

Technology is enabling increasingly lifelike models of organs to help doctors practice operations.

First, do harm

Studies that deliberately infect people with diseases are on the rise. They promise speedier vaccine development, but there’s a need to shore up informed consent.

Plasmonics brings the molecular world into sharper focus

People have been using metals to manipulate light for centuries. Now researchers are using it to create powerful biosensors.

Putting the squeeze on glaucoma

The eye disease causes millions to go blind. New treatments aimed at protecting nerve cells — or generating new ones — may slow or even stop the damage.

The body’s tiny cargo carriers

Scientists are finding that microscopic membranous bubbles called extracellular vesicles transmit messages from cells and do big jobs in many areas of biology — plus they might be useful for therapies.

Short-circuiting the suicide cascade

Psychologists are seeking better ways to cut the link between dire thoughts and fatal action. Among their strategies: individualized plans for pulling back from the brink, and limiting access to deadly means, especially guns.

The dappled dilemma facing vitiligo science

Even as scientists celebrate progress in the lab, a stigma-busting movement asserts that those with the autoimmune skin condition are more in need of acceptance than medicine

Listening to ketamine

The fast-acting drug offers a new way to treat depression and fathom its origins. Recent approval of a nasal spray promises to expand access, but much remains unknown about long-term use and the potential for abuse.

The quest for autism’s causes, and what it reveals about all of us

The more researchers look, the more multifaceted the risk factors appear — and the more we learn about how the brain works and develops

Unraveling breast cancer risk

Only about 10 percent of people with breast cancer have links to known gene variants, but another 20 percent have significant family history. Scientists are delving deeper into the genome to find what remains unexplained.

The human factor in clean water

There are many cheap and effective ways to provide safe water to the world’s poor regions. But projects often fail due to inadequate planning, maintenance or persuasive power.

Sounding out the brain

Ultrasound isn’t just for images. Sonogenetics and other promising technologies let researchers use focused sound waves to control genes and entire cells deep in the tissues of living animals, without surgery.

When the brain’s waste disposal system fails

Marco Sardiello explains how problems with the cell’s lysosomes lead to disease

Bypassing paralysis

By decoding brain activity with electrical implants, computers can help disabled people move a robotic arm — or their own

Gut feelings

The same taste receptors found on the tongue are in the stomach, intestines and elsewhere, too. What are they doing there? Well, a lot.

Betting on bats for genetic treasures

Bat genomes are full of clever tricks that are treats for biology and medical science — it’s why scientists want to sequence them all

Truly, neurally, deeply

Scientists are developing AI systems called deep neural nets that can read medical images and detect disease — with astonishing efficiency