Melittin, a protein found in bee venom, can be used to treat eczema ©Getty Images
Melittin, a protein found in bee venom, can be used to treat eczema ©Getty Images

From bee venom to printing with honey: a world of innovation

Where supply chains make a difference

South Korea
Sufferers of atopic dermatitis – a form of eczema – might one day be treated with a compound made from the protein found in bee venom. Melittin has been found by scientists in South Korea and Australia to suppress the immune response that causes discomfort for one in five children and 3% of adults worldwide.

UK
Cambridge University scientists have been able to capture solar energy by linking photosynthesis with the enzyme hydrogenase. The method – which converts water to hydrogen and oxygen, releasing energy – creates a battery-like electrochemical cell, mimicking photosynthesis, but absorbing and storing even more solar light.

Japan
University of Tokyo scientists have created the strongest ever controllable magnetic field, which could help produce unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion. The magnetic field theoretically needed to produce fusion power from plasma is “tantalisingly similar” to this, said the scientists. 

Sri Lanka
Paint company JAT Holdings has created a paint using discarded flowers, to reduce the waste from offerings left at Buddhist temples. Around 200kg of dried flowers are used to make the pigment for 50 litres of Petal Paint. The specially created colours will be used to restore faded temple murals. 

Australia
A camera lense that is 100-times thinner than a human hair may help link quantum computers to an optical fibre network. The new device, according to scientists at Australia National University, will be useful as it is provides a compact and portable way of manipulating quantum light. 

China
A sensor that can smell rotting meat has been developed by scientists at Nanjing University. It can detect biogenic amines, which give meat its rotting smell. The device could prove a valuable replacement for unreliable human noses, and prevent deaths from food poisoning.

Indonesia
A satellite developed for state-owned telecoms operator Telkom Indonesia will provide coverage using concentrated spot beams as well as standard wide area beams, delivering much higher data rates. The satellite has been made with 3D-printed components.

USA
Printing with virtually any liquid, from human cells to honey, is possible with a new technique from Harvard researchers. Using sound waves to manipulate gravity’s pull, they control the size and frequency with which liquid drops form, regardless of viscosity. The method could drive advances in pharmaceuticals, which use sugar-based substances 25,000 times as viscous as water, to make biopharmaceuticals.

Crunching the numbers

6,000km
The distance that could be cut from shipping routes if Maersk's freight ship’s maiden journey through the Northern sea route (North of Russia) from East Asia to Europe becomes standard.

848,000
The number of people who could escape poverty if Ghana’s agricultural productivity doubled by 2030, according to the Goalkeepers 2018 report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

$100m
The cost of Brexit, according to drug firms Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. The pharmaceuticals industry will be hit particularly hard, with nearly three-quarters of Britain’s drugs coming from the EU.

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