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Highly virulent HIV variant found in Europe
A highly transmissible and damaging variant of HIV has been circulating in the Netherlands for decades. The variant appears to boost the number of viral particles in a person’s blood, making them more likely to transmit the virus. And it seems to lead to a reduction in immune cells called CD4 T cells, putting infected people at risk of developing AIDS much more rapidly than those with other versions of HIV. The good news is that the variant’s mutations don’t make it resistant to existing HIV drugs. “All of the tools in our arsenal should still work,” says Joel Wertheim, an evolutionary biologist and molecular epidemiologist.
UK scientists anxious over EU funding
UK scientists are facing funding uncertainty because of disagreements between their country and the European Commission. They have been waiting over a year for the ratification of an agreement that would give them access to cash from the €95-billion (US$107-billion) Horizon Europe funding pot. But the complex political situation between the Republic of Ireland (which is still in the European Union) and Northern Ireland (which is not) has delayed the deal. Britain’s ability to take part in other joint science programmes, such as the European Atomic Energy Committee and the Earth-observation programme Copernicus, is tied to whether it associates with Horizon Europe.
Malaria bed nets help with long-term health
Children who sleep under bed nets impregnated with insecticide are less likely to die young from malaria — and the health benefits linger for decades. Some scientists have worried that babies who avoid malaria might not develop immunity, resulting in increased risk later. But an ambitious study in Tanzania found that people who slept under nets 20 years ago, as children, have a 40% survival advantage compared with those who did not.
Reference: The New England Journal of Medicine paper
Features & opinion
Survey of gender bias in the IPCC
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) needs to do more to include the contributions of women, even as numbers and policies improve. In 2018, the IPCC established the Task Group on Gender to advise how to achieve the fair representation and broad expertise required for the best possible climate-policy knowledge. Childcare needs, lack of resources, gatekeeping and many more factors are limiting the equity in working groups, they write.
Futures: One hundred and fifty-seven
A rescuer brings a moment of calm to an astronaut lost in space in the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series.
Why water flows weirdly in nanotubes
Normally, water flows faster through a wider pipe than a narrower one. But in tiny carbon nanotubes, the flow rate is flipped, with water moving faster through the narrowest channels. This week, the Nature Podcast features researchers who have come up with a new explanation for this phenomenon. The nanotubes are perfectly smooth, so there should be no friction of the classical kind. But there is still ‘quantum friction’ because of interactions between the atoms of water and carbon. There is less quantum friction in narrower tubes because of the way the layers of the tube walls are aligned, say the researchers.
Nature Podcast | 26 min listen
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