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Researchers find 3 earth-sized planets which could bolster life

Gorkha Post

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LONDON — A group of researchers from the University of Cambridge on Monday said that they had found three Earth-like planets that are the best wager so far for discovering life outside solar system.

The planets orbit a dim and cool star 40 light years from Earth which could be the best place to start searching for extra-terrestrial life, according the researchers.

Researchers used a telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla Observatory in Chile, to see the star known as TRAPPIST-1, which is in the Aquarius group of stars, Xinhua reported.

TRAPPIST-1 is an ultra-cool dwarf star and as such is much cooler and redder than the Sun and is barely larger than Jupiter.

They found that this dim and cool star faded slightly at regular intervals, indicating that several objects were transiting or passing between the star and the Earth. Detailed analysis showed that there were three planets of a similar size with the Earth.
“The discovery of a planetary system around such a small star opens up a brand new avenue for research,” Professor Didier Queloz from the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory said.

Such stars are very common in the Milky Way and very long-lived but this is the first time that planets have been found around one of them.

Despite being just 40 light years from the Earth, this star is too dim and too red to be seen with the naked eye or even with a large amateur telescope.

“Before this discovery it was not at all clear whether such a small star could host an Earth-sized planet. Nobody had seriously studied it, but now that’s likely to change,” said Professor Queloz.

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“Systems around these tiny stars are the only places where we can detect life on an Earth-sized exoplanet with our current technology,” said Michael Gillon, from the University of Liege in Belgium, who co-authored a paper on the new discovery with Professor Queloz.

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Science & Technology

Researchers successfully grow human cells in sheep embryos

Raghu Kshitiz

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Researchers successfully grow human cells in sheep embryos. Represenatational image

KATHMANDU — In an incredible development that could possibly go a long way in medical practices, scientists in California are working on a way to reduce organ transplants and rejections: Growing embryos in sheep and pigs containing human patients’ cells.

In a transplant breakthrough, scientists at the University of California said they have achieved sheep embryos in which around one in every 10,000 cells was human, according to UPI report.

The researchers presented preliminary findings Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

The new finding paves way for genetically tailoring the organs to be compatible with the immune system of the patient receiving them, thus removing the possibility of rejection, the report said.

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The hybrid embryos contain both human and sheep cells and were created in an early step toward growing human organs in farm animals before transplanting them into patients.

Last year, the same researchers introduced human stem cells into early pig embryos, producing embryos with about one in every 100,000 cells being human.

The experiment began with Hiro Nakauchi, from the University of Tokyo, who grew a mouse with a rat pancreas and a rat with a mouse pancreas.

When cells from the rat-grown mouse pancreas were transplanted into a diabetic mouse, they made enough insulin to cure the condition without being rejected.

Mice and rats are different types of rodents with the former having thin slightly hairy tails, while rats have thicker hairless scaly tails.

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“The next step was to move into large animals,” Nakauchi said. Since this was prohibited in Japan, he moved to the Stanford University in the US.

Nakauchi’s rodent work has demonstrated that you can “grow organs in a different species and cure a disease without [suppressing the immune system],” added co-researcher Pablo Ross, Professor at from the University of California, Davis.

“We are working together to translate the technology into humans, to solve the terrible shortage of organs for transplantation. In the US, 20 people die every day because they cannot get the organs they need,” Ross explained.

With Agency Inputs

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