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New DNA techniques helping with unsolved cases

Advances in DNA technology are being used to help solve what happened to Priscilla Berry.

Detectives are using advances in DNA technology to try and identify human remains discovered in North Wales in the last 50 years.

Under Operation Orchid, officers say they hope to bring closure to families who have lived with uncertainty for a long time.

Criminality is not suspected in any of the cases.

One mystery dates back to January 1980, when female human remains were recovered from the sea 15 miles off Llandudno and were interred at a local cemetery.

Police inquiries with the National Missing Persons Bureau have identified a possible match with 39-year-old Priscilla Berry, possibly of the maiden name Sturgess.

She went missing from her home in Mochdre, Colwyn Bay, in June 1978.

It is now possible to link close family members such as siblings or children through DNA. If we can locate a brother, sister or child of Mrs Berry we can take a DNA sample to compare to the remains.

Although Mrs Berry went missing over 35 years ago, we believe it is still important for her family to know what became of their relative - and we will do all we can to help.

It is by no means certain that the remains are those of Mrs Berry, but the proposed tests should provide a definitive answer.

We are therefore appealing to anyone who is related to Priscilla Berry or knows any of her family members to contact North Wales Police.

– Detective Constable Don Kenyon

Welsh scientists lead the fight against dementia

A new approach aims to accelerate research. Credit: Daniel Karmann/DPA/PA Images

Cardiff scientists are heading up a £16 million programme to detect, treat and prevent dementia.

They will lead the Medical Research Council's new UK Dementia Research Platform (UKDP).

It will examine not just what is going wrong in the brain but at the brain in the context of the whole body.

"We know that neurodegeneration can be linked to changes taking place in other parts of the body seemingly unrelated to the brain and many years before dementia is diagnosed."

Dr John Gallacher Cardiff University School of Medicine

UKPD brings together industry expertise and investigators from eight universities and teaming them with what they say will be the world's largest group of participants in dementia research (more than two million people)


Cardiff scientists find new uses for gold

Researchers are discovering gold's hidden value. Credit: ROBERT JAEGER/APA/PA Images

Gold is traditionally regarded as chemically uninteresting because it doesn't react readily with other substances.

But researchers at Cardiff University's School of Chemistry say when broken down into nanoparticles, containing a few hundred atoms, it becomes incredibly reactive.

That makes it an efficient catalyst to speed up chemical and biological processes.

The scientists say they have discovered gold is the best catalyst for making the main ingredient for PVC and it could replace environmentally harmful mercury.

It's hoped using gold in catalysis could mean the better use of raw materials and the ability to generate fuels, plastics and other chemicals from renewables.

1,000 native crayfish released at Builth Wells

The native crayfish is under threat from a non-native species. Credit: Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) says more than 1,000 native white-clawed crayfish have been released into a Welsh river as part of continued efforts to save the species from extinction.

It's the third year NRW officers have captive reared and released the juvenile crayfish working in conjunction with the Wye and Usk Foundation.

The one-year-old crayfish were reared at Natural Resources Wales Cynrig Fish Culture Unit and have been released into specially selected ‘ark’ sites on a tributary of the River Irfon, near Builth Wells.

Releases sites are free from a lethal fungus. Credit: Natural Resources Wales

NRW says to date more than 2,700 captive reared crayfish have been released into the wild in a bid to offset the damage caused by the non-native American signal crayfish, climate change and the impact of pollution on habitat and water quality to the native crayfish population.

Life sciences network among three launching today

The discovery of new drugs and development of new treatments will form the basis for a new science network launching today. One of three, the life sciences and health network, based at Cardiff University will work on areas that have unmet medical need.

A new network launching today will look into the development of new drugs Credit: PA

Another area to be looked at will be the growing needs of society, such as the need for food. The network will carry out research into the relationships between land, water, the provision of food and energy production.

The network is one of three Ser Cymru National Research Networks for Wales launching today. They are funded by £7m from the Welsh Government and are designed attract more scientific research business to the country.

Science network to focus on materials and engineering

One of three new science networks launching today will focus on materials and engineering. It aims to carry out research that could have applications in manufacturing.

Solar technology is one area of research for a new science network launching today Credit: PA

One area of research for the network, based at Swansea University, will be solar technology. Different materials that could be used to coat buildings to harness solar energy, instead of using solar panels, are already being discussed.


Multi-million pound investment in science networks

Millions of pounds are being invested in new science networks Credit: PA

Wales is to gain three new science networks. The Ser Cymru National Research Networks for Wales are the product of a £7m investment by the Welsh Government. They are designed to attract scientific research business and cover various disciplines from medicine, manufacturing, energy and food security.

'Too few young women' studying science in Wales

Boys 'continue to dominate scientific subjects at A Level'. Credit: Klaus OhlenschlÀger/DPA/Press Association Images

The Welsh Conservatives say fewer young women are studying science subjects at A Level.

Boys outnumber girls by five to one.

The Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales says a science plan's being developed.

It'll include actions to address the low take up of girls for A level physics.

Welsh scientists use seaweed to battle diseases

Seaweed compounds are being used in clinical trials. Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

The disease-fighting qualities of seaweed compounds are being investigated by an international network of scientists including experts from Cardiff University and Swansea University.

They say trials for new inhalation therapies for people with cystic fibrosis are already underway.

The condition affects 10,000 people in the UK alone and leads to those with the disease being hospitalised up to three times a year.

Scientists say research conducted by the universities has shown that some seaweed compounds are capable of combating multi-drug resistant infections.

Studies are also paving the way towards the improved treatment of chronic non-healing skin wounds.

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