Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Expert Opinion

Experts pick apart the veracity of claims made in research papers and the media.

The Mouse with Two Fathers


US scientists have produced mice from two fathers using stem cell technology.

The researchers used a type of cell from a male mouse known as a fibroblast to produce stem cells. A portion of these stem cells spontaneously lost their Y chromosome so they only contained an X chromosome. These stem cells were then injected into embryos from donor female mice and were transplanted into surrogate mothers. The offspring of these mice were then mated with normal male mice. Some of the offspring were male and female mice that had genetic contributions from two fathers. The research was published in Biology of Reproduction.

More evidence that Alzheimer's-like brain damage can be 'caught'


It is possible that amyloid beta pathology, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, can be transmitted through contaminated human growth hormone.

A study published in Nature (see the link below) found that specific batches of contaminated human growth hormone, linked to the death of several patients from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) were also contaminated with amyloid beta protein, a substance thought to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. When the samples were injected into mice, they produced a amyloid beta pathology, providing evidence that amyloid beta pathology can be transmitted through human growth hormone.

Australia's proposed encryption laws


New laws proposed by the Australian Government target communication services and device makers, and include the power for police to force companies to disclose encrypted information on devices like phones, computers and social media platforms. Apple has called the draft legislation “dangerously ambiguous”, saying that the Coalition's attempt to weaken digital encryption should be “alarming to all Australians”.

"Security by design is essential and we are not very good at it in the first place. Weakening any security control by design is, therefore, a bad idea. Cyber criminals are vigilantly seeking vulnerabilities in our devices, social media services, and all forms of telecommunications we rely upon and use daily. If we leave an intentional backdoor, they will find it. Once it is discovered it is usually not easy to fix.