Editor's Choice: HIV, broken bones, lasers and dinosaurs
A round-up from the scientific and technical journals.
Anti-HIV injection protects against infection
Antiretroviral drugs are no longer used to just treat HIV; they also help protect high-risk individuals from catching the disease in the first place, as long as they remember to take the pills each day. Pharmaceutical researchers at GlaxoSmithKline have now developed an injectable, long-acting version that would only have to be given quarterly. In animal testing, it successfully protected macaques from infection. A report of the trial can be found here.
Screws to fix fractures as smooth as silk
Surgeons often use metal screws to repair badly broken bones. But these stiff fixings can damage underlying bone, and often have to be removed once the fracture heals. Researchers in the US have now developed an alternative screw made from silk fibres tightly woven to form a plastic-like material. The screws’ mechanical properties closely match bone, minimising damage. What’s more, they biodegrade once the fracture heals so never require removal. A report is here.
Laser etching achieves atom-scale precision
Scientists at Macquarie University in Sydney have developed a super-resolution ultraviolet laser that can etch materials with nanoscale accuracy. The researchers showed that the technique can create features just 20 nanometres across in a diamond. They predict that they will soon achieve single-atom precision – potentially very useful for making nanoscale electronic devices. You can read about it here.
Dinosaur may have been Europe's largest carnivore
A new species of dinosaur has been found in Portugal that may have been the largest land predator to have lived in Europe. The Torvosaurus gurneyi, which lived around 157-145 million years ago, is closely related to a North American species, Torvosaurus tanneri, but is much older. Scientists say it is possible they crossed to North America on temporary land bridges. A report of the discovery here.