Europe

Big Ben with bridge over Thames and flag of England against blue sky in London

British voters elect record number of women to Parliament

After the recent elections, there will now be at least 242 female Members of Parliament in the new U.K. government. The previous record was set in 2019 when 220 women were elected to the House of Commons. Before that in 2017, it was 207 and 196 in 2015. New Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s cabinet will also have the highest number of female ministers in history, as Rachel Reeves became the first female chancellor ever.

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Iberian lynx

Iberian lynx no longer endangered after numbers improve in Spain and Portugal

Less than a quarter of a century after the Iberian lynx was feared to be only a whisker away from extinction, populations of the animal have recovered enough across Spain and Portugal for it to be moved from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the global red list of threatened species. According to the latest census, the lynx population on the peninsula has risen from just 94 in 2002 to 2,021 last year.

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Sick woman, stomach pain and hands on abdomen

U.K. researchers identify and treat major cause of inflammatory bowel disease

For the first time, a major trigger in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and related conditions has been identified, and existing drugs can stamp it out, in what scientists call a “massive step” in successfully treating these debilitating chronic conditions. Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, in collaboration with University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London (ICL), have uncovered a problem gene enhancer that stimulates action along a specific biological pathway that causes IBD inflammation.

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School of herring

Sweden to ban bottom fishing in territorial waters

Bottom trawling, a practice criticized by NGOs for impacting ecosystems, involves dragging heavy nets over the seabed, damaging ecosystems, and releasing carbon into the oceans. Sweden is set to become the second EU country to ban bottom fishing in marine protected areas, going a step further than Greece’s April decision by banning it in all territorial waters.

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X-ray image of the intestine

New bowel cancer drug is found to be 100% effective

An immunotherapy drug could spare bowel cancer patients the need for surgery and chemotherapy after results showed it was effective in 100% of cases. Jemperli from British pharmaceutical company GSK showed “unprecedented results”, the firm said, with no evidence of disease in all patients treated. The data showed all 42 patients in a trial led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the U.S. had a complete response to treatment, with no evidence of tumors on scans.

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Contraceptives

Free contraception initiative helps Finland reduce teenage abortions by 66%

The number of abortions among women under 20 rose during the 1990s in Finland, leading the Nordic country to make morning-after pills available without prescription from 15 years of age and sexual education compulsory in all schools. As a result, the number of abortions fell 66% to 722 in 2023 from 2,144 in 2000 among all teenagers aged 19 or younger in Finland, while the drop was even steeper at 78% among those under 18 in the same period.

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Holding breast cancer ribbon

New blood test can predict breast cancer return

An “ultra-sensitive” new blood test developed and tested by Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) London can predict if breast cancer will return years before the disease shows up on scans, researchers say. It picks up traces of a tumor’s DNA before a full relapse and was found to be 100% accurate at predicting which patients would see their cancer return. It is hoped that the test can allow treatment to start earlier and improve survival rates.

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Cancer Cells under microscope

Thousands in the U.K. to trial breakthrough personalized cancer vaccines

Under the new scheme from the U.K. National Health Service, the first of its kind in the world, patients who meet the eligibility criteria and agree to have a blood test and sample of their cancer tissue analyzed will gain immediate access to clinical trials for the new vaccines that experts say represent a new dawn of treatments for cancer. While research into cancer vaccines is at an early stage, trials have already shown they can be effective at killing off any remaining tumor cells after surgery and dramatically cut the risk of cancer returning.

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Ukrainian flag

Spain to give Ukraine €1 billion in military aid in decade-long defense deal

Although the precise details of the agreement have not been made public, the Spanish government said its assistance would “allow Ukraine to prioritize its capacities, including its air defenses.” The bilateral deal was agreed two days after Russia’s onslaught in the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv killed 18 people, and as E.U. leaders grow increasingly exasperated with Hungary’s efforts to block aid to Ukraine.

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Plant coming out of concrete

‘Absolute miracle’ breakthrough provides recipe for zero-carbon cement

Concrete is the world’s most used building material, and making it is a particularly dirty business – concrete production alone is responsible for about 8% of total global CO2 emissions. But according to new research from the University of Cambridge, throwing old concrete into steel-processing furnaces not only purifies iron but produces “reactivated cement” as a byproduct. If done using renewable energy, the process could make for completely carbon-zero cement.

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