Seven From Seven: Thriving coral reefs and pig organs back from the dead

5th August 2022

Each week, we scour the worlds of innovation, tech for good and social impact to bring you seven of our top stories…

  1. Parts of the Great Barrier Reef have recorded their highest amount of coral cover since the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) began monitoring 36 years ago. Between August 2021 and May 2022, average hard coral cover in the upper region and central areas of the reef increased by around one third. It’s a rare piece of good news for the world-famous reef, which in March underwent its sixth mass bleaching event.
  2. Brazilian conjoined twins, three-year-olds Bernardo and Arthur Lima have been successfully separated with the help of virtual reality. Described by surgeons as “space-age stuff”, the siblings underwent surgeries in Rio de Janeiro, with direction from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The twins had seven surgeries, involving more than 27 hours of operating time in the final operation alone, and almost 100 medical staff. This is the first time in history that surgeons in separate countries wore headsets and operated in the same “virtual reality room” together.
  3. India has this week strengthened its official national climate action plan, providing a major boost to international climate efforts. The new strategy commits to delivering net zero emissions by 2070 and crucially includes new near-term emissions goals for 2030. For a country that makes up nearly 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, this is a step in the right direction ahead of this autumn’s COP27 Climate Summit in Egypt.
  4. Experts are exploring using gene therapies to treat genetic heart disease – cardiomyopathies. Specifically, the researchers are working on developing an injectable cure that works by silencing or altering certain genes prone to causing the illness. It is hoped that this research could lead to the first cure.
  5. Giving women the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine when pre-cancerous lesions are removed from their cervix may cut the risk of cells recurring and causing cervical cancer, a study has found. This has sparked hope that a cure for cervical cancer is just around the corner and has encouraged researchers to conduct further studies into the value of using the HPV vaccine.
  6. Spanish-German wind engineering giant Siemens Gamesa’s first recyclable blades are spinning on a wind turbine at the Kaskasi offshore wind farm in Germany. It’s the first commercial installation of recyclable wind turbine technology. The structure underlines the pace at which the energy industry is moving to provide enough sustainable power to combat the global climate emergency.
  7. Researchers have restored circulation and cellular activity in the vital organs of pigs, such as the heart and brain, one hour after the animals have died – offering hope that human organ transplants could benefit from the technique in the future. The latest experiments are “stunning”, says Nita Farahany, a neuroethicist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Although this study is preliminary, she says it suggests that some perceived limitations of the human body might be overcome in time.

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