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Instagram for science communication, diet drugs suppress mosquitos’ thirst for blood, and how to scrub the world of non-stick chemicals

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Yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) on human skin, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM)

Could dieting drugs make mosquitoes less hungry for human blood?Credit: Eye of Science/Science Photo Library

Human diet drugs suppress mosquitoes’ thirst for blood

Researchers have discovered a way to stop mosquitoes from biting by making them feel full, using drugs designed to suppress human appetites. Neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall says that she decided to take this “completely zany” approach “as kind of a lark”, but now sees promise in the method for controlling mosquito-borne diseases. The next step: design a sufficiently powerful mosquito-specific diet drug that avoids unwanted effects on people.

Nature | 5 min read

Myanmar leads the way in seismic monitoring

Quake-prone Myanmar has transformed itself into a leader in seismic monitoring in southeast Asia, using a high-tech network of 21 seismic-monitoring stations dotted around the country. Local and international researchers are working together to help optimize life-saving earthquake and tsunami warnings — although foreign scientists are banned from areas where the government-sanctioned military-led campaign of violence continues against the Rohingya minority group.

Nature | 6 min read

Jawless fish can regrow their spinal cords ― twice

The lamprey is known for its resilience: after its spinal cord is severed, it can regrow part of its central nervous system and resume swimming normally. Now, scientists have discovered that the creature can repeat the feat even if the same site is re-injured.

Nature Research Highlights | 1 min read

Reference: PLOS One paper

Get more of Nature’s Research Highlights: short picks from the latest papers.

FEATURES & OPINION

How to scrub a non-stick world

Researchers are hunting for “one of the most complex groups of pollutants out there” — fluorochemicals. These carbon chains swaddled in fluorine atoms have a unique ability to repel both grease and water, making them ideal for everything from food wrappings to fire-fighting foams. But they don’t degrade, and some of them have already been banned because of their danger to human health. Now, environmental chemists, epidemiologists and toxicologists are trying to determine just how many variations of these chemicals saturate our environment — and what to do with them.

Nature | 26 min read

Does tea prevent cancer? “Yes, no and perhaps.”

There is evidence that green tea, or some of its chemical components, can guard against cancer. But after decades of population-based health studies, and even clinical trials in people with cancer, scientists are struggling to translate promising initial results into meaningful benefits.

Nature | 10 min read

This article is editorially independent and was produced with financial support from Hunan Agricultural University.

CasX: A new, smaller CRISPR protein

Researchers have added a new enzyme to their gene-editing toolkit: CRISPR-CasX. Discover the new, smaller CRISPR protein in this week’s podcast. Plus, ultraviolet light reveals that some flying squirrels secretly glow hot pink and researchers are hoping to speed up drug discovery by virtually screening millions of chemicals.

Nature Podcast | 25 min listen

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on iTunes or Google Podcasts.

Credit: MOLEKUUL/SPL/Getty

BOOKS & ARTS

Five best science books this week

Barbara Kiser’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes the history of distant worlds, a clear eye on renewables and environmental lessons from a tiger’s tale.

Nature | 2 min read

INFOGRAPHIC OF THE WEEK

Immune cells called neutrophils seem to help breast-cancer cells to spread — or ‘metastasize’ — to the lungs. Proteins (shown as red and blue dots) seem to bind neutrophils to cancer cells that are wandering the body, called circulating tumour cells (CTCs). They form clusters that somehow make CTCs more likely to form tumours in the lungs. Disrupting these clusters might offer a way of fighting metastasis.

SCIENTIFIC LIFE

Clockwise from top left: a ‘green sun animacule’, likely in the genus Acanthocystis (viewed at 400x under phase-contrast microscopy); a tough tardigrade ‘water bear’, collected from a spring in Florida, that has ingested microbial food (phase-contrast microscopy at 200x); a tardigrade moulting eggs into its shed cuticle; and a ciliate contorted into a heart after feeding on various filamentous algae and cyanobacteria (200x under differential interference contrast microscopy).Credit: Hunter N. Hines @microbialecology

How to use Instagram to communicate your science

Don’t shy away from Instagram when considering social networks that can amplify your science. Microbiologists Hunter Hines and Sally Warring offer their case studies for making the most of the image-focused community.

Nature | 6 min read

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

A diver takes a green sea turtle’s measurements at Sea Life Timmendorfer Strand in Germany.

A diver takes a green sea turtle’s (Chelonia mydas) yearly measurements at Sea Life Timmendorfer Strand in Germany. These measurements have shown that the turtle, Speedy, is growing at a rate of 1 centimetre per year. Credit: Markus Scholz/dpa

See more of our picture editors’ picks for best science photos of the month.

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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