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Fentanyl-Linked Deaths: The U.S. Opioid Epidemic's Third Wave Begins

By Martha Bebinger
Authorities intercepted a woman using this drug kit in preparation for shooting up a mix of heroin and fentanyl inside a Walmart bathroom last month in Manchester, N.H. Fentanyl offers a particularly potent high but also can shut down breathing in under a minute.

Overdose deaths involving fentanyl are rising — up 113 percent on average each year from 2013 to 2016. Dealers are adding cheap fentanyl to the illicit drug supply, and some users get it accidentally.

(Image credit: Salwan Georges/Washington Post/Getty Images)

  • March 21st 2019 at 05:02

U.S. Mathematician Becomes First Woman To Win Abel Prize, 'Math's Nobel'

By Bill Chappell

"I find that I am bored with anything I understand," Karen Uhlenbeck once said. That sentiment is part of why she won what many call the Nobel of mathematics Tuesday.

  • March 19th 2019 at 20:21

Researchers Examine Who's Better At College Basketball's Free-Throw Line

By Shankar Vedantam

March Madness is here, and college basketball is in the spotlight. When it comes to making free throws, who is better: College players who would eventually go pro, or players who would never go pro?

  • March 19th 2019 at 10:03

Cannabis 101 At The University Of Connecticut

By Patrick Skahill
Marijuana plants grow in a marijuana cultivation facility on July 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

With expanding markets for hemp and marijuana, some students believe that taking the class could help their careers. "I'm definitely interested in the plant and where it can go," Madison Blake said.

(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • March 16th 2019 at 18:59

Google Employee Is Credited With Calculating Most Accurate Value Of Pi

Emma Haruka Iwao has computed over 31 trillion of its digits. She and her team calculated 31,415,926,535,897 digits of pi — crushing a 2016 record by trillions of digits.

  • March 15th 2019 at 11:40

Did Cooking Really Give Us The F-Word?

By Dan Charles
A biomechanical model of producing an "f" sound with an overbite (left) compared with an edge-to-edge bite (right). Some linguists are arguing that the advent of softer food thousands of years ago led to changes in biting patterns and, eventually, to more frequent use of sounds like "f" and "v" in human languages.

Some linguists are arguing that the advent of softer food thousands of years ago led to changes in biting patterns and, eventually, to more frequent use of sounds like "f" and "v" in human languages.

(Image credit: Scott Moisik)

  • March 14th 2019 at 19:08

Scientists Call For Global Moratorium On Creating Gene-Edited Babies

By Rob Stein
There was an uproar in 2018 when a scientist in China, He Jiankui, announced that he had successfully used CRISPR to edit the genes of twin girls when they were embryos. Prominent scientists hope to stop further attempts at germline editing, at least for now.

An international group of 18 prominent scientists and bioethicists is calling for countries around the world to impose a moratorium on the creation of babies whose genes have been altered in the lab.

(Image credit: Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

  • March 13th 2019 at 19:01

Scientists Thread A Nano-Needle To Modify The Genes Of Plants

By Joe Palca
An artist

Getting DNA into plant cells is tricky. Researchers have tried using infectious bacteria, as well as gene guns that shoot gold bullets. Then a physicist came up with a new approach almost by accident.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Markita del Carpio Landry)

  • March 10th 2019 at 22:23

A Gulp Of Genetically Modified Bacteria Might Someday Treat A Range Of Illnesses

By Rob Stein
Jonah Reeder prepares a special protein shake that helps him manage a metabolic condition called phenylketonuria.

Researchers think genetically engineered versions of microbes that can live in humans could help treat some rare genetic disorders and perhaps help with Type 1 diabetes, cirrhosis and cancer.

(Image credit: Julia Ritchey/KUER)

  • March 8th 2019 at 11:21

An Antibody-Inspired Small Molecule Could Make For A Better Flu Treatment

By Jonathan Lambert
This colorized scanning electron micrograph shows human cells in a lab infected with "pink" influenza viruses. As many as 650,000 people each year die from flu, according to the World Health Organization.

To outsmart influenza, researchers are leveraging the biological information encoded in infection-fighting antibodies to design new drugs. One attempt neutralizes near-lethal levels of flu in mice.

(Image credit: Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source)

  • March 7th 2019 at 20:17

Why Partisanship Changes How People React To Noncontroversial Statements

By Shankar Vedantam

New research finds that partisans agree with bumper sticker slogans — unless they are told that those slogans were made by a leader of the opposing party.

  • March 7th 2019 at 11:07

How Much Is Today's HIV Research Centered Around The Search For A Cure?

For the second time ever, a man's HIV infection has been sent into remission. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Rowena Johnston, director of research for the Foundation for AIDS Research.

  • March 5th 2019 at 22:23

London Patient Cleared Of HIV

By David Greene

Doctors in London say they've successfully treated an HIV patient, but the treatment is dangerous and expensive. The news comes 12 years after a different patient was declared cured of AIDS.

  • March 5th 2019 at 15:17

Scientists Shocked By Rare, Giant Sunfish Washed Up On California Beach

By Merrit Kennedy
The animal, identified as a hoodwinker sunfish, washed up on a shore last week at UC Santa Barbara

They initially thought it was a type of fish known to swim near Santa Barbara. But by collaborating with Australian scientists, they found it was a species never before documented in North America.

(Image credit: Thomas Turner)

  • March 1st 2019 at 00:22

Double-Booked Surgeons: Study Raises Safety Questions For High-Risk Patients

By Rebecca Ellis
The common practice of double-booking a lead surgeon

Most patients do fine, research suggests, when the lead surgeon steps away to begin another procedure. But patients who are older or have underlying medical conditions sometimes fare worse.

(Image credit: Ian Lishman/Getty Images)

  • February 26th 2019 at 21:14

World's Largest Bee Is Spotted For First Time In Decades

By Bill Chappell
One of the first images of a living Wallace

The bee towers over its apian cousins. Females have been recorded as being at least an inch and a half long. Add to that a pair of gigantic mandibles, and it's a bee like no other.

(Image credit: Clay Bolt/claybolt.com)

  • February 21st 2019 at 20:44

Scientists Release Controversial Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In High-Security Lab

By Rob Stein
Genetically modified "gene drive" mosquitoes feed on warm cow

The insects were created, using CRISPR, to carry a powerful "gene drive." The mosquitoes could provide a potent weapon against malaria, but they raise fears about unpredictable environmental effects.

(Image credit: Pierre Kattar for NPR)

  • February 20th 2019 at 11:00

Scientific Duo Gets Back To Basics To Make Childbirth Safer

By Alison Kodjak
Their research is still in early stages, but Kristin Myers (left), a mechanical engineer, and Dr. Joy Vink, an OB-GYN, both at Columbia University, have already learned that cervical tissue is a more complicated mix of material than doctors ever realized.

Remarkably little is known about the fundamentals of how a woman carries a baby inside her. Two Columbia University researchers aim to change that, to reduce the number of kids born too soon.

(Image credit: Adrienne Grunwald for NPR)

  • February 18th 2019 at 11:10

Volunteers Fight Bad Science

James Heathers is a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University, who looks for mistakes for fun. He speaks to NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks about errors published in scientific papers.

  • February 17th 2019 at 14:12

Racial Disparities In Cancer Incidence And Survival Rates Are Narrowing

By Patti Neighmond
Dramatic decreases in deaths from lung cancer among African-Americans were particularly notable, according to the American Cancer Society.

African-Americans still have the highest death rate and the lowest survival rate of any U.S. racial or ethnic group for most cancers. But the "cancer gap" between blacks and whites is shrinking.

(Image credit: Siri Stafford/Getty Images)

  • February 15th 2019 at 02:34
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