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Bristol’s top five discoveries in 2013

11 December 2013

Some of the most important historical discoveries of the last century happened at Bristol, and this year has been no exception. Here are our highlights of 2013.

Some of the most important historical discoveries of the last century happened at Bristol, and this year has been no exception. From hidden canyons to breakthroughs in the fight against cancer and heart disease, Bristol continues to open doors to discoveries that will shape our future for the better.

Here are our highlights from 2013:

1. Under pressure

Bristol scientists discovered that size doesn't matter when it comes to hypertension. In fact, treatment for high blood pressure could be as simple as removing one of the tiniest organs in the body, and may actually be more effective than existing therapies. This discovery could revolutionise the treatment of the world’s biggest silent killer, and the results of a human clinical trial are expected next year.

2. What lies beneath?

A team led by the School of Geographical Sciences uncovered a previously unknown canyon, hidden beneath two kilometres of ice in Greenland. It's hard to believe that there are still places to discover on Earth, but Bristol researchers continue to show that what we know about our planet only just scratches the surface.

3. A prison cell for cancer

In the future, cancer could be prevented from spreading by manipulating the levels of a protein known as 'PRH'. This pioneering discovery, by researchers at Bristol and Birmingham, will help find new ways to control and manage multiple cancers.

4. Seeing smiles

Seeing happiness rather than anger in ambiguous facial expressions could help reduce levels of anger and aggression on a day-to-day basis, according to Bristol researchers. The results of the study were particularly noticeable in young people at high-risk of criminal offending and delinquency, so could help pioneer new behavioural treatments in the near future.

5. Flower power

Researchers from the School of Biological Sciences created a buzz around the UK when they revealed that bees and flowers communicate using electrical fields. Electrical signals are used to attract bumblebees to a flower's pollen, and the voltage of the signal changes to warn when nectar is running low.