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Now that’s what I call science

Ruth Braham talks us through the Cassini's grand finale, and the gene therapy breakthrough!

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Cassini’s grand finale

The end of a 19-year mission occurred at 12:55pm (GMT) 15th September 2017 when the Cassini space probe lost contact with the earth, after diving down through the atmosphere of Saturn sending back information about Saturn’s gravity, analysis of particles in the famed icy rings and some truly spectacular photos of never before seen views.

A collaboration between NASA and the ESA Cassini (named for the discoverer of Saturn’s rings) was launched October 15th 1997 and took 7 years to reach Saturn where it began a series of 294 obits and flybys, sending back vital scientific data before making its final dive and losing contact a mere 30 seconds from the predicted time.

Gene Therapy Breakthrough

Gene therapy has been investigated for a long time but this year has seen many advances. Firstly, gene therapy being used to treat Juvenile Spinal-muscular atrophy, characterised by muscle wasting and usually death before the age of two. Patients received a single dose of a vector containing the correct form of the SMN gene, to be integrated into the patient’s genomes. As of the cut-off all 15 patients were alive, 2 patients could walk unaided.

Following on from this were reports of gene therapy being used to alter a patient’s genes In-Vivo to correct the defective gene responsible for epidermolysis bullosa.

On the lighter side CRISP-R gene therapy has also been used to store a GIF animation in a bacterial genome, because Science

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