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Kamal Nahas, PhD

Freelance science journalist

Kamal writes about biology, health, and technology.

His work has been featured in Live Science, Nature, New Scientist, Science, Scientific American, The Scientist, and other places.
 

Based in Oxford, UK.

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Portfolio

Cancers with an exceptional cause

Epigenetic control of gene expression can switch on genes that push cell division into overdrive independently of genetic faults.

News

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A first peek at a “crass” virus

Observing the gut’s most abundant viruses for the first time.

Research Highlight

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Gut microbe metabolites lower levels of toxic tau

Researchers simulated interactions between microbial molecules and neural receptors to explore whether gut bacteria might influence brain chemistry.

News

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How does CRISPR work?

CRISPR is a versatile tool for editing genomes and has recently been approved as a gene therapy treatment for certain blood disorders.

Reference

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Breaking the speed limit on cell division

In recent years, researchers have found biophysical limits on cell division speeds, such as genome size or the time-consuming synthesis of bulky ribosomes.

Deep Dive

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A bird’s eye view of the tumor microenvironment

Immune cells form different communities throughout a tumor, potentially disrupting how cancers respond to treatments.

News

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The nucleus’ secret to shapeshifting

Neutrophils contort their nuclei into various shapes by moderating one key regulatory protein previously shown to orchestrate DNA organization.

News

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Centromeres mutate more rapidly than expected

After sequencing centromeres in humans and other primates, researchers found that they vary greatly across species and potentially contribute to aging and disease.

News

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Cancer cells spread when they stop recycling waste

An immune-inhibiting protein that regulates autophagy halts breast cancers from venturing across tissue borders.

News

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Fighting tumors with DNA origami

Researchers bolster antitumor immune defenses using cancer vaccines made from DNA origami.

News

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What causes the placebo effect?

Experts look to psychology and physiology to understand why people sometimes feel better after receiving a sham treatment.

Explainer

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When did humans start getting the common cold?

Prehistoric cold viruses are hard to find in the historical record, but scientists have unearthed some evidence in ancient human teeth.

Explainer

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Multicellular bacteria evolve defenses that resemble the immune system

Bacterial superorganisms must evolve defenses to fight off infections, and microbiologists found that they use a weapons cache coincidentally similar to that of the human immune system.

News

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One gene with a domino effect on social behavior

A transcription factor in mouse brains underpins stress, social behaviors, and possibly immunity.

News

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Exploring microbial dark matter

An open-source search engine helps scientists identify hundreds of microbial metabolites in a matter of seconds. 

News

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Close encounters of skin and nerve cells

Scientists exploring the skin-nerve cell connection have only scratched the surface. New research highlights just how intertwined the two cells are.

News

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Chemicals that make babies smell sweet and teens smell 'goat-like' revealed

Aroma researchers worked out which chemicals in body odor differ between infants and teens who have hit puberty.

News

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Is AI ready to mass-produce lay summaries of research articles?

A surge in tools that generate text is allowing research papers to be summarized for a broad audience, and in any language. But scientists caution that major challenges remain.

News Feature

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Stem cell editing repairs severe immunodeficiency

Scientists hoping to treat immunodeficiencies using gene therapy have found a way to edit stem cells in mice without disrupting gene regulation.

News

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Rapidly dividing bacteria coordinate gene expression and replication

E. coli divides faster than it can replicate its genome, while simultaneously expressing its genes. Scientists recently revealed the intricate molecular coordination that makes this possible.

News

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What causes tinnitus, and can it be treated?

That ringing that only you can hear can become really bothersome if it persists. Here's what triggers tinnitus, plus how you can manage the condition.

Explainer

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People with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome may have an “exhausted” immune system

A long-awaited study of people with ME/CFS revealed differences in their immune and nervous system. The findings may offer clues about long COVID.

News

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Gut bacteria linked to colorectal cancer in young people

Certain gut bacteria reside in colorectal tumors, but the species differ depending on a patient's age, offering hope that our gut tenants could serve as early warning signs of cancer in young people.

News

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Yeast made to harvest light hint at evolution’s past

Scientists transferred light-harvesting proteins into yeast for the first time, shining a light on the past lives of eukaryotic cells.

News

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Humans rely on gut bacteria for an enzyme that prevents jaundice

An absence of bilirubin-producing gut microbes may predispose individuals to some diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease.

News

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How do fevers kill germs?

You may have heard that fevers help fight infections. But how, exactly, do they do it?

Explainer

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Taking candid shots of radical proteins

Scientists capture how radical electrons influence protein structure before they have time to react.

Research Highlight

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Zero gravity, zero gain: the genetics behind muscle loss in space

Simulated microgravity in mice reveals a constellation of genes that may influence muscle weakening during spaceflight.

News

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How does Tylenol work?

Exactly how Tylenol — also called acetaminophen or paracetamol — relieves pain continues to evade scientists, but it's clear the drug interacts with one key set of enzymes.

Explainer

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Genotoxic effects of base and prime editing

A risk-benefit analysis of gene editing tools in stem cells revealed that base and prime editing carry vulnerabilities similar to those of CRISPR-Cas9, but at a reduced rate. 

News

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The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly altered the infant microbiome

Microbial diversity in the infant gut shrank suddenly during the first lockdown, but the lasting health effects are less clear.

News

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Crossing the generational divide: what established scientists and early-career researchers can learn from each other

Astrophysicist and Shaw prizewinner Victoria Kaspi describes how science forums can help researchers of all ages to share ideas and career concerns.

Career Q&A

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Epigenetics linked to the maximum life spans of mammals — including us

Some chemical tags on DNA, called epigenetic factors, that are present at a young age can affect the maximum life spans of mammal species.

News

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A closer look at how cells package DNA

Our cells use an ensemble of histone proteins to fold and package the DNA genome into the nucleus. Scientists imaged cryopreserved cells to closely study these folds.

Research Highlight

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Move over, proteins! Exploring lipids in adaptive immunity

New research revealed hundreds of lipid antigens that may be recognized by adaptive immune T cells.

News

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A new drug fixes a leak caused by bacteria

Researchers discovered how virulent bacterial proteins leech nutrients from plant cells, leading to a potential treatment for diseased crops.

News

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Can rats 'imagine'? Rodents show signs of imagination while playing VR games

Rats immersed in a VR world played games that could be won only by using imaginative route planning, scientists report.

News

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Our cells may boost their health by eating bacteria-killing viruses

Viruses that infect bacteria – called phages – are abundant in our bodies, and they seem to have beneficial effects when our cells engulf them.

News

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Could bacteria-killing viruses ever prevent sexually transmitted infections?

The CDC will soon recommend that some people take a "morning-after" antibiotic to lower their risk of STIs. But someday, it's possible that bacteria-killing viruses could do this without driving antibiotic resistance.

News Analysis

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Regulating insulin with Queen’s greatest hits 

Pop music balanced blood sugar levels in mice, thanks to implanted human cells rigged to release insulin using a sound-sensitive bacterial protein.

News

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The extra X: How the sex chromosome affects autoimmunity risk

What underlies the uneven burden of autoimmunity between the sexes has remained a mystery. Now, scientists found clues by turning to a key player on the X chromosome.

News

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Closing the gaps in the human genome: Why Y was the final hurdle

For two decades, scientists struggled to fully sequence the Y chromosome. Finally, researchers have mapped its full length thanks to recent advances in sequencing technology.

News

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Can sugar cause acne?

Because multiple factors can provoke acne, it's difficult to tease apart sugar's role.

Explainer

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Why do we have earwax?

When it's not causing problems, earwax is good for your health and should be left alone.

Explainer

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Why is it harder for some people to build muscle than others?

How do muscle cells grow after a workout? And how do your genetics affect your experience as a gymgoer?

Explainer

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Immunity genes may play a role in Down syndrome

Extra copies of four interferon receptor genes found on human chromosome 21 trigger developmental changes in a mouse model of Down syndrome.

News

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Atlas of biomedical literature could help track down fabricated studies

Bird’s-eye view of 21 million papers presents new way to visually analyze trends in science.

News

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Targeting a key COVID protein with antivirals

Solving the structure of a COVID protein that doubles as a drug target.

Research Highlight

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Peering deeper into cells with X-rays

Imaging cellular architecture with X-rays has the potential to transform our understanding of the microscopic world.

Explainer

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Scientists stumble upon a new part of a cell in one of the most studied animals on Earth

Scientists found a previously unrecognized organelle in fruit flies, a thoroughly studied organism.

News

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Gut bacteria contribute to anorexia

Microbiomes transplanted from women with anorexia nervosa into mice enhanced symptoms of the eating disorder, such as rapid weight loss and reduced appetite.

News

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'Mind-control' parasite Toxoplasma hides from the immune system with 2 key genes

A single-cell parasite relies on two genes that boost each other's activity to switch into "defense mode" when attacked by the immune system.

News

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CRISPR-edited fat shrank tumors in mice. Someday, it could work in people, scientists say.

Genetically modified fat can be transplanted into mice to shrink tumors, but this novel cancer therapy still needs to be tested in human trials.

News

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“Cryptic transcription”: how aging cells express fragments of genes

Aging cells with weakened gene regulation spuriously transcribe RNAs, but their impact on health and longevity still needs to be examined.

News

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AI re-creates what people see by reading their brain scans

A new artificial intelligence system can reconstruct images a person saw based on their brain activity.

News

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Now AI can be used to design new proteins
 

Machine learning can be harnessed to synthesize artificial light-bearing enzymes that actually work in cells.

News

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Bacteria have histones after all: study
 

Researchers identify hundreds of candidate histone proteins in bacteria, including one with an unusual way of binding to DNA.

News

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Giant viruses grew out of small ones: study
 

A study employing CRISPR/Cas9 to explore the evolutionary beginnings of some giant viruses finds evidence their large genomes arose from gene duplications.

News

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New swelling technique makes cells visible to the naked eye

A new technique, called Unclearing Microscopy, physically inflates and then stains cells to circumvent the need for expensive microscopes.

News

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Structural insights into influenza virus
 

Collaborative research between University of Oxford and Diamond Light Source has unveiled new discoveries about the replication of the influenza virus

Research Highlight

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The truth about the foods said to boost your immune system

Many foods thought to enhance our natural defences, such as orange juice and turmeric, don’t live up to the hype. Instead, the key to a healthy immune system lies in nurturing your gut microbiome.

Feature

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Access denied: Stopping rabies virus from entering cells

Structural insights pave the way for development of new vaccines and therapies against rabies.

Research Highlight

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A biochemical switch in infectious proteins may lead to neurodegeneration

Circular dichroism uncovers the irregular structure of infectious prions.

Research Highlight

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