In the News: Scientists Edit Human Embryos, Sexually Transmitted Zika Virus Confirmed in Florida, Low Calorie Diet Linked to Learning Improvement

Scientists edit mutation in human embryos. For the first time ever, scientists have successfully repaired a mutated gene that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This disease affects half a million Americans annually, particularly young athletes who pass away from sudden cardiac death. Scientists have spent the last few years looking into gene editing, particularly its ability to prevent certain diseases. A popular form of gene editing known as CRISPR-CAS9 involves removing or making changes to DNA sequences to change the way the gene operates. This scientific breakthrough raises ethical questions, with many wondering if this is a form of “playing God” and will require further research before it can be used in clinical trials. (MEDNEWS)

Sexually transmitted Zika virus confirmed in Florida. This year’s first sexually transmitted Zika case has been discovered in Florida recently. The state’s health department confirmed that a Florida resident’s partner showed Zika symptoms after returning from Cuba; both were diagnosed with this mosquito-borne virus. This recent case highlights the importance of taking precautions when engaging in sexual contact with someone who may have been exposed. The CDC also recommends postponing unprotected sex for six months or more to ensure females are not infected. While the symptoms of Zika are minor (rash, fever, pinkeye), it can cause birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. Want to learn more about Zika? Here are five facts you should know. (ABC)

Low-calorie diet linked to learning improvement in worms. Want to try a low-calorie diet? A new study has found that eating less gives worms a brain boost. Research has already shown that calorie restriction can boost longevity and it appears that it can also improve learning ability too. A team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco trained roundworms to link the scent of butanone with a food-based reward. The worm groups were divided up between those who ate whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, those who fasted for sixty minutes, and those who were on a calorie-restricted diet. The group on the diet was two times more likely to complete the exercise the way they were supposed to as compared to the group that ate freely. Some experts believe that eating fewer calories lowers the amount of kynurenic acid (a brain chemical) which may improve learning ability. Want to try a restricted diet? Give this 1200-calorie meal plan a try! (NS)