Let’s open with a whopper: Last August, for the first time ever in human history, geneticists created an almost fully-formed human brain. The manufactured mind is reported to be about the size of the rubber on the end of a pencil, and is equivalent to the developing brain of a five-week-old foetus in the womb. Engineered from adult human skin cells, the development brings great hope in the study of currently incurable mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and autism – previously, only limited rodent brains were available for study.
Back in July, NASA spacecraft New Horizons hit another world premier: being humanity’s first spacecraft to visit Pluto. While terrestrials have observed the dwarf plantet from afar for many years, New Horizons will be catching an up-close look at the icy ball over an exploration of the area for five months, before entering the Kuiper belt (the asteroid-belt perimeter of the solar system – about 50 times as far from the sun as Earth) and then eventually leaving the influence of Sol, questing further into the galaxy.
Last June, the internet was abuzz as a new male contraceptive was revealed to be in development. Christened “Vasalgel”, the drug is reported to be the first approved male contraceptive since condoms (and the rather extreme measure of castration). Though dubbed the “male pill”, the contraceptive is actually injected directly into the scrotum under local anaesthetic, with one shot providing up to a decade (!) of contraception. Vasalgel is entering its final stages of testing, and is expected to release in 2018.