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Fundamental bioscience news

Scientists at The Pirbright Institute were awarded $2.66 million as part of a research project led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology in DARPA's Safe Genes programme. The programme aims to gain a fundamental understanding of how gene editing technologies function, address potential health and security concerns relating to accidental or intentional misuse of the technology and determine how they can be used safely, responsibly and predictably for global benefit.

Biologists at the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh have discovered why some crows ‘craft’ elaborate hooked tools out of branched twigs. The new study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution (22 January), explores why crows go the extra mile rather than using simple, unmodified sticks to extract prey - it allows them to get at hidden food several times faster than if they used basic (non-hooked) tools.

Scientists from the Babraham Institute near Cambridge in collaboration with colleagues from Brazil and Italy have discovered a way that good bacteria in the gut can control genes in our cells. The work, published in Nature Communications, shows that chemical messages from bacteria can change the location of key chemical markers throughout the human genome.