2012 review: The year in health science









































Read more: "2013 Smart Guide: 10 ideas that will shape the year"











The first half of 2012 will be remembered for the saga over whether or not to publish controversial research involving versions of the H5N1 bird flu virus engineered to spread more easily in mammals. In the end openness won out, and both contentious studies did finally see the light of day.












This was also the year that saw the battle to eradicate polio reach its crucial endgame – just as another problem, in the form of totally drug resistant tuberculosis, reared its head.












Away from infectious disease, 2012 brought us a theory on the link between Tutankhamun, epilepsy and the first monotheistic religion, and an insight into the perils of premature ageing in Italy's ominously named Triangle of Death. Here are 10 more of the year's memorable stories.












Babies are born dirty, with a gutful of bacteria
Far from being sterile, babies come complete with an army of bacteria. The finding could have implications for gut disorders and our health in general












Forensic failure: 'Miscarriages of justice will occur'
Our survey of UK forensic scientists reveals that many are concerned that closure of the Forensic Science Service will lead to miscarriages of justice












Scandal of an underfunded and undertreated cancer
Lung cancer in those who have never smoked is on the rise – but they face the same stigma as their smoking counterparts












Ovarian stem cells discovered in humans
Stem cells capable of forming new eggs could promise limitless eggs for IVF treatments, and the rejuvenation of older eggs












Paralysis breakthrough: spinal cord damage repaired
An implant helping paralysed people stand unaided suggests the spinal cord is able to recover function years after severe damage












A real fMRI high: My ecstasy brain scan
Graham Lawton reports the highs, lows and psychedelic purple doors involved in taking MDMA while having his brain scanned












You may carry cells from siblings, aunts and uncles
Male cells found in the umbilical cord blood of baby girls with older brothers suggests fetal cells cross between mother and baby more than once thought












Can we deter athletes who self-harm to win?
The Paralympics may encourage a debate on a dangerous practice – and potential ways to prevent it












First non-hormonal male 'pill' prevents pregnancy
A non-hormonal drug that temporarily reverses male fertility appears to have few side effects in mice












Mining MRSA genetic code halts superbug outbreak
Whole genome sequencing of an MRSA outbreak has identified the person who unwittingly spread the bacteria around a hospital, stopping further infection

















































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