This year is flying by, and May was another bumper month at PLOS Biology. In May we’ve covered all things hair, mind-controlled avatar races, and plant pathogen biosecurity risks.
Our first paper posits a cause for hair greying after a serious illness or chronic stress by linking grey hair with immune system activity. Researchers discovered a connection in mice between the genes that contribute to hair colour (by regulating melanocytes) and the genes that notify the body of an infection. This study offers hope for a better understanding of hair greying and potential solutions, and has been covered in Daily Mail, Men’s Health.
Continuing the theme of hair; researchers have discovered a potential cure for baldness by exploiting a side effect of a common immunosuppressant drug. Researchers were able to identify the mechanism driving hair growth caused by the drug Cyclosporine A, creating hope for the many people experiencing hair loss. This uplifting paper has been covered widely, including by BBC, The Telegraph, Forbes, and Time Magazine.
Our third May paper examines how best to train tetraplegic users to control avatars with their brain activity. Participants trained their brains to instruct avatars to jump, slide, walk and spin in preparation for the international Cybathlon competition. By building an interface that allows both the computer and the human to learn together, the researchers saw dramatic improvement in computer-augmented performance.
The movement of people and goods around the world has had the potential to spread invasive plant species and pathogens. Using data from New Zealand covering the last 133 years, researchers have found that although the spread of fungal plant pathogens initially tracked import volume, this was later slowed by the introduction of effective biosecurity programs. Differences in the rate of reduction of new pathogens among sectors seem to reflect differences in the biosecurity measures taken.
Join us next month for more PLOS Biology in the media!
Featured Image Credit: pbio.2003648