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Left, Eric McDade from Washington University, St Louis, the trial’s principal investigator, and, right, patient Marty Reiswig.

Trial coordinator Eric McDade assesses participant Marty Reiswig for cognitive ability.Credit: Matt Miller/Washington University School of Medicine

Clinical trials are testing whether people who are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease can be protected with medication. The drugs under scrutiny are all antibodies that have been developed to target and clear amyloid-β proteins in the brain, which clump together into toxic masses called plaques. Many scientists agree that plaques trigger loss of memory and cognitive ability; however, this hypothesis has never been universally accepted, and previous failed drug trials have only emboldened its critics. Trials in high-risk people with no cognitive symptoms offer hope of definitive evidence.

Nature | 14 min read

Scientists found an egg-sized meteorite in a 5-square-kilometre area in Western Australia using drones and a neural network. After meteor-hunting cameras spotted a fireball last year, researchers photographed the area using two drones. An algorithm trained to spot unusual objects then scanned the high-resolution images for anomalies. Despite false positives — such as “tin cans, bottles, snakes, kangaroos and piles of bones from multiple animals” — the technique could increase the recovery of meteorites worldwide. It could also be used for other challenges, such as wildlife monitoring or search and rescue. “Although we recovered the meteorite, we did not really train a meteorite detection algorithm,” write the authors. “What we really created is an anomaly detector.”

Physics World | 6 min read

Reference: arXiv preprint

The first person to receive a transplanted heart from a genetically modified pig has died. David Bennett Sr, who was too ill to qualify for a human or artificial heart, died two months after the groundbreaking surgery. The hospital did not confirm whether the transplant contributed to Bennett’s death. Transplant surgeons hope the advance will enable them to give more people animal organs, but critics raised concerns that the one-off experiment would not produce useful data outside the rigours of a clinical trial.

The New York Times | 4 min read

Read more: What we can learn from the first pig-to-human heart transplant (Nature | 7 min read, from January)

Features & opinion

Marianela Masat Fundación Rewilding Argentina, checks on the status of a female anteater reintroduced to the Iberá wetlands.

Ecologist Marianela Masat checks on a giant anteater and her pup after the animals were reintroduced to the Iberá wetlands in Argentina.Credit: Rafael Abuin

Three founders of the non-profit Fundación Rewilding Argentina argue that rewilding and ecotourism should be in the toolkit for meeting the 2030 biodiversity targets that will be discussed next month at COP 15, the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, in Kunming, China. “Simply setting aside protected areas is not enough,” they say. “Reintroduced species re-weave the fabric of ecological relationships.” Creating economic benefits is crucial, they argue.

Nature | 10 min read

“My CV is a strange one for an epidemiologist,” says Chen Chien-jen, who ended up as vice-president of Taiwan. Now back in academia, he reflects on the lessons he has learnt toggling between science and public service. “That experience opened my eyes to the limitations of science and technology alone in promoting human well-being,” he says. Robust institutions, social cohesion and a wide-ranging, long-term view are also essential to bring about a thriving society.

Nature | 5 min read

On top of the human suffering and death that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing, it will complicate global cooperation on climate change and the transition to greener energy. The conflict could make some European countries in Europe more reliant on coal in the short term, as they work to break their dependence on Russian gas and oil. The good news is: Europe is increasing its investment in clean energy. “Many of the strategies to lower dependency on Russia are the same as the policy measures you want to take to lower emissions,” says energy-politics researcher Thijs Van de Graaf. “They say, never waste a good crisis.”

Financial Times | 10 min read

Image of the week


Agreement to pursue a global plastic-pollution treaty is promising — now the hard work begins. Science will be key to its success, argues a Nature editorial.

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