Weekly roundup 23/11/2016

25 Nov 2016

In the news this week:

The biggest news for science and industry this week was around the UK’s exit from the EU and the Autumn Statement, the first fiscal update from the Treasury since the vote. Money was allocated for science R&D – £2bn annually until 2020 – transport infrastructure, and 5G connectivity, as well as a new National Productivity Investment Fund of £23bn. The Chancellor also made it clear he wished to provide greater certainty for business, announcing that future budgets will be given in autumn to ensure clarity for companies well before the start of the next fiscal year. You can read our summary of the statement here and the full text is available here.

Earlier in the week, the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee had released their report, Leaving the EU: implications and opportunities for science and research. Among their demands were an immediate commitment to exempt EU scientists and researchers already working in the UK from wider potential immigration controls, greater clarity in communication, and an increase in R&D funding to the OECD-recommended 3% (the £2bn annual fund announced in the Autumn Statement would push current spending up to 1.8%). Read our summary of the report here and the full text here.

A new study from the California Institute of Technology has shown for the first time that living organisms can make silicon-carbon bonds – something previously only achieved by chemists. Scientists at Caltech ‘bred’ a bacterial protein to make the human-made bonds – a finding that will likely have applications in many industries. Read more here.

A team of researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham believe that predatory bacteria – those that eat others of their kind – could be a new weapon in the fight against superbugs. Their experiments showed that a dose of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus could act like a living antibiotic to help clear an otherwise lethal infection. Far more safety testing is needed before using Bdellovibrio therapeutically could be attempted but the bacterium has been shown to kill a range of other bacteria, including E.coli and Salmonella. The researchers hope the technique could help the fight against antibiotic resistance. Read more here.

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