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A rare collaboration will allow North Korean physicists to train in computational neuroscience at an Italian university. International sanctions ban other countries from teaching North Korean researchers in topics including the nebulous field of “advanced physics”. Under the new deal, two or three students each year are expected to travel from Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang to the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste.
After she faced two painful surgeries with nothing more than a couple of paracetamol, doctors spotted that retired teacher Jo Cameron feels almost no pain. Now, researchers say the effect results from gene mutations that cause her body to be flooded with a natural cannabinoid. Cameron also heals quickly, feels less anxious and fearful than most and experiences forgetfulness. “I knew that I was happy-go-lucky, but it didn’t dawn on me that I was different,” she says. “I thought it was just me. I didn’t know anything strange was going on until I was 65.”
Scientists have described three new species of frog from Madagascar that are small enough to share a seat on your thumbnail. Herpetologist Mark Scherz named the new genus Mini, and the three species Mini mum, Mini scule and Mini ature. “People who know me personally know that wordplay is about 70% of my personality,” says Scherz.
FEATURES & OPINION
In the age of immunotherapy, cancer biologists are relying on a new generation of tools to learn how the interplay between tumours and immune cells shapes the course of disease. They are building a ‘big picture’ view of cellular ecosystems using tumour-mapping technologies and techniques that can generate detailed censuses of vast numbers of individual cells on the basis of gene expression or protein content.
A “spark bird” is what birders call the species that caused their interest to first take flight. Jason Ward, host of the YouTube show Birds of North America, describes how his spark bird — a peregrine falcon — came to him while he was living in a homeless shelter in New York City’s south Bronx, and led to his entry into “the best club on Earth”.
Two Nature stories from 2018 have won top awards for excellence in health-care journalism.
• Amy Maxmen’s stunning infographic-packed featurelooks at how scientists are racing to stamp out drug-resistant strains of malaria in southeast Asia.
• Heidi Ledford explored how social media and patient-advisory groups have given clinical-trial participants unprecedented power in how experiments are run — sometimes threatening the integrity of the research.
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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing