Monday, January 21, 2019

Science X Newsletter Monday, Jan 21

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 21, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers develop a machine learning method to identify fake honey

Elastronics—hydrogel-based microelectronics for localized low-voltage neuromodulation

Mystery orbits in outermost reaches of solar system not caused by 'Planet Nine'

Skin patch biomarker sensor that doesn't need batteries

Researchers capture an image of negative capacitance in action

New eclipsing cataclysmic variable discovered

Study: On Facebook and Twitter your privacy is at risk—even if you don't have an account

Mechanical engineers develop process to 3-D print piezoelectric materials

New nanoparticle targets tumor-infiltrating immune cells, flips switch

Mouse studies show 'inhibition' theory of autism wrong

Youthful cognitive ability strongly predicts mental capacity later in life

Greenland ice melting four times faster than in 2003, study finds

Fossilized slime of 100-million-year-old hagfish shakes up vertebrate family tree

Ancient climate change triggered warming that lasted thousands of years

How hot are atoms in the shock wave of an exploding star?

Astronomy & Space news

Mystery orbits in outermost reaches of solar system not caused by 'Planet Nine'

The strange orbits of some objects in the farthest reaches of our solar system, hypothesised by some astronomers to be shaped by an unknown ninth planet, can instead be explained by the combined gravitational force of small objects orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune, say researchers.

New eclipsing cataclysmic variable discovered

Using the Mobile Astronomical System of Telescope-Robots (MASTER), an international team of astronomers has detected a new eclipsing cataclysmic variable. The newfound object, designated MASTER OT J061451.70–272535.5, is most likely of the polar subclass. The finding is detailed in a paper published January 9 on arXiv.org.

How hot are atoms in the shock wave of an exploding star?

A new method to measure the temperature of atoms during the explosive death of a star will help scientists understand the shock wave that occurs as a result of this supernova explosion. An international team of researchers, including a Penn State scientist, combined observations of a nearby supernova remnant—the structure remaining after a star's explosion—with simulations in order to measure the temperature of slow-moving gas atoms surrounding the star as they are heated by the material propelled outward by the blast.

Total lunar eclipse woos sky watchers

An unusual set of celestial circumstances came together over Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday for sky watchers in Europe, Africa and the Americas, where the moon was fully obscured before lighting up again with a faint red glow.

The disintegrating exoplanet K2-22b

Exoplanet surveys have yielded many surprises over the years, and the discovery of "disintegrating" exoplanets was one of them. These are planets that produce asymmetric shapes in the dips of the light curves seen as they transit across the faces of their stars. The asymmetry is hypothesized to be due to tails of dusty material from the planets' disintegration. At present, only three such planets known around main sequence stars, one being K2-22b. There are currently over 3800 confirmed exoplanets, suggesting either that such objects are intrinsically rare or that they have very short lifetimes, in which case it is lucky to catch any in the act of disintegration. These systems have been under intense study to better understand their formation and evolution and to constrain the properties of the grains in the dust tails.

ExoMars software passes ESA Mars Yard driving test

Navigation software destined for the ExoMars 2020 mission to the Red Planet has passed a rover-based driving test at ESA's 'Mars Yard'.

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

The only total lunar eclipse this year and next came with a supermoon bonus.

Europeans contemplating moon mission by 2025

The ArianeGroup wants to send a scientific mission to the moon before 2025.

US spy satellite launched into orbit from California

A powerful Delta 4 Heavy rocket carrying a U.S. spy satellite lifted off Saturday from California.

Seeding the Milky Way with life using 'Genesis missions'

When exploring other planets and celestial bodies, NASA missions are required to abide by the practice known as "planetary protection." This practice states that measures must be taken during the designing of a mission to ensure that biological contamination of both the planet/body being explored and Earth (in the case of sample-return missions) are prevented.

Technology news

Researchers develop a machine learning method to identify fake honey

A team of researchers at Imperial College London and UCL have recently developed a new method to authenticate honey using machine learning and microscopy. Their technique, outlined in a paper pre-published on arXiv, could detect diluted or mislabeled honey at a far lower cost than existing methods.

Skin patch biomarker sensor that doesn't need batteries

An international team of researchers has developed a skin patch that serves as a biomarker sensor—one that does not need batteries. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances,, the group describes the new device patch and how it works.

Study: On Facebook and Twitter your privacy is at risk—even if you don't have an account

A new study shows that privacy on social media is like second-hand smoke. It's controlled by the people around you.

Xiaomi has been working on improvements for in-display fingerprint scanning

Fingerprint sensors—modern tools of convenience or awkwardly placed tools that are just plain difficult for instant use?

Amazon's safety wearable is for human-robot workspace

Idea: A safety wearable to alert robots that a human is nearby. Idea maker: Amazon Robotics. Goals: Less obstacle hassles involving robots and workers.

Algorithm predicts the next shot in tennis

QUT researchers have developed an algorithm that can predict where a tennis player will hit the next ball by analysing Australian Open data of thousands of shots by the top male tennis players.

North Sea rocks could act as large-scale renewable energy stores

Rocks in the seabed off the UK coast could provide long-term storage locations for renewable energy production, new research suggests.

Report: Facebook's privacy lapses may result in record fine

Facebook may be facing the biggest fine ever imposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations involving the personal information of its 2.2 billion users.

Chips are down for online gamblers as US moves toward new ban

US authorities have begun an effort to ban all forms of internet gambling, reversing course from a 2011 decision and imperiling a burgeoning online wagering sector in several American states.

France nears implementation of digital tax

France will push ahead with its own tax on large internet and technology companies by introducing a bill that would be retroactive to January 1, its finance minister said Sunday.

EU's antitrust cop lays groundwork for more tech scrutiny

Silicon Valley's notorious nemesis, Margrethe Vestager, plans to end her term as the European Union's antitrust enforcer this year with a bang, laying out a long-term plan to intensify scrutiny of the world's big tech companies.

Staff fraud may cost China's DJI drone maker $150 million

Chinese drone maker DJI has placed 45 employees under investigation for alleged fraud that could cost the company more than one billion yuan ($150 million) in losses, the firm said Monday.

New material to push the boundaries of silicon-based electronics

The electronics market is growing constantly and so is the demand for increasingly compact and efficient power electronic systems. The predominant electronic components based on silicon will in the foreseeable future no longer be able to meet the increasing industrial requirements. This is why scientists from the university of Freiburg, the Sustainability Center Freiburg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have joined forces in order to explore a new material structure that may be better suited for future power electronics.

A new low-latency congestion control for cellular networks

Heavy traffic on narrow roads could be one of the leading causes of traffic congestion, which also applies to communication networks. If more data is collected than the allowed data capacity can accommodate, communication latency results. This has a devastating effect on 5G-based internet services such as self-driving cars, autonomous robots and remote surgery.

Researcher using computer vision, machine learning to ensure the integrity of integrated circuits

David Crandall is an associate professor in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington. He, Sara Skrabalak and Martin Swany are the first IU researchers whose work is being advanced through the Indiana Innovation Institute, or IN3.

Biased algorithms: here's a more radical approach to creating fairness

Our lives are increasingly affected by algorithms. People may be denied loans, jobs, insurance policies, or even parole on the basis of risk scores that they produce.

Facebook to expand Ireland operations with 1,000 staff

Facebook will expand its presence in Ireland with an additional 1,000 staff over 2019, the firm announced Monday, bolstering the tech giant's largest base outside of its California headquarters.

France hits Google with 50 million euro data consent fine

France's data watchdog on Monday announced a fine of 50 million euros ($57 million) for US search giant Google, using the EU's strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the first time.

Despite controversies, Facebook apps were the most used and downloaded in 2018

Despite all the controversies Facebook saw in 2018, with hackings, data breaches and a round of apologies, consumers never gave up on the social network.

EU countries split over copyright overhaul

Divisions between EU countries could delay or derail plans to overhaul copyright law, an ambition that has set up a battle pitting media firms against internet giants like Facebook and Google.

Report: Snap fires 2 execs after alleged sexual misconduct

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Snap recently fired two executives after one allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a contract worker.

Coffee clash brewing in China: startup Luckin takes on Starbucks

When Starbucks came to China two decades ago it promised to open a new store every 15 hours. Now a homegrown rival, Luckin Coffee, plans to build a high tech-driven shop every three and a half hours to dethrone the US giant.

France pushes Japan to accept Renault-Nissan merger: reports

Japanese media reported Sunday that France wants a merger between Renault and Nissan following the arrest of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, but according to France's economy minister changing the current set-up is "not on the table".

Airbus sells 65 jets to SMBC Aviation Capital

Aircraft leasing company SMBC Aviation Capital has finalised an order for 65 Airbus planes from the A320neo family with a catalogue price of $7.47 billion (6.6 billion euros), Airbus said Monday.

Russian watchdog launches 'administrative proceedings' against Facebook, Twitter

Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor launched "administrative proceedings" Monday against US social media giants Facebook and Twitter, accusing them of not complying with Russian law, news agencies reported.

Scientists turn carbon emissions into usable energy

A recent study affiliated with UNIST has developed a system that produces electricity and hydrogen (H2) while eliminating carbon dioxide (CO2), the main contributor of global warming. This breakthrough has been led by Professor Guntae Kim in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST in collaboration with Professor Jaephil Cho in the Department of Energy Engineering and Professor Meilin Liu in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Following accidents, Dutch Uber lifts minimum driver age

Ride hailing firm Uber said Monday it is raising the minimum age of its drivers in the Netherlands and taking other measures to increase road safety after a series of fatal accidents involving Uber drivers.

Spanish taxi strike against app services spreads to Madrid

Madrid taxi drivers began an open-ended strike Monday against online ride-hailing services like Uber, joining their counterparts in Barcelona who walked off the job three days ago.

Netflix is in a battle royale with Fortnite in the fight for your screen time

Even though every other media company seems to be starting a streaming service, Netflix is facing an on-screen challenge from another corner: "Fortnite," that ultra-popular, multiplatform videogame, appears to be a formidable foe.

Medicine & Health news

Elastronics—hydrogel-based microelectronics for localized low-voltage neuromodulation

Implantable neuromodulation devices such as deep brain stimulators and vagus nerve stimulators, are widely used to treat neurological diseases. Most devices are composed of rigid probes that limit spatial resolution and increase mechanical mismatch with surrounding tissues for incompatibility in vivo. Novel approaches have focused on the structural design to include ultrathin syringe-injectable electronics and macro-porous mesh electronics for improved compatibility. An alternative, low-cost approach is to develop stretchable microelectronics to form tissue-like biomaterials that use strain engineering methods to confer low Young's modulus and offer soft mechanical properties for flexible "elastronics" at the tissue level.

Mouse studies show 'inhibition' theory of autism wrong

A detailed study of four mouse models of autism challenges the most common assumption about what goes wrong in brain circuits to cause disease symptoms.

Youthful cognitive ability strongly predicts mental capacity later in life

Early adult general cognitive ability (GCA)—the diverse set of skills involved in thinking, such as reasoning, memory and perception—is a stronger predictor of cognitive function and reserve later in life than other factors, such as higher education, occupational complexity or engaging in late-life intellectual activities, report researchers in a new study publishing January 21 in PNAS.

Brain training app improves users' concentration, study shows

A new 'brain training' game designed by researchers at the University of Cambridge improves users' concentration, according to new research published today. The scientists behind the venture say this could provide a welcome antidote to the daily distractions that we face in a busy world.

At least half of parents try non-evidence-based cold prevention methods for kids

Vitamin C to keep the germs away. Never go outside with wet hair. Stay inside.

Genetic study provides novel insights into the evolution of skin color

Skin colour is one of the most visible and variable traits among humans and scientists have always been curious about how this variation evolved. Now, a study of diverse Latin American populations led by UCL geneticists has identified new genetic variations associated with skin colour.

How gut bacteria affect the treatment of Parkinson's disease

Patients with Parkinson's disease are treated with levodopa, which is converted into dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. In a study published on 18 January in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from the University of Groningen show that gut bacteria can metabolize levodopa into dopamine. And since dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, this makes the medication less effective—even in the presence of inhibitors that should prevent the conversion of levodopa.

'Safe' herbicide in Australian water affects male fertility

The last 50 years has seen a rapid decline in male reproductive health. Decreased sperm counts, increased rates of testicular cancer and a range of malformations in male genitalia have been reported in industrialised countries across the globe.

Genes affect where fat is stored

A recent study from Uppsala University has found that genetic factors influence whether people store fat around the trunk or in other parts of your body, and that this effect is predominant in women and much lower in men. In the study, which is published in Nature Communications, the researchers measured how fat was distributed in nearly 360,000 voluntary participants.

Scientists find genes with large effects on head and brain size

Children's heads expand steadily to accommodate their growing brains, and doctors routinely measure head circumference during the first years of life to assess healthy brain development. Children from around the world follow similar patterns of head growth, and final head size is largely achieved by the age of six years. "We know very little about genetic factors influencing head circumference scores beyond infancy," says Beate St Pourcain, who is lead scientist on the study and group leader at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Psycholinguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen and the University of Bristol. "Studying head circumference in older children and adults is important, as it is a permanent measure of our peak brain size that is robust to aging," she explains.

How brains distinguish between self-touch and touch by others

The brain seems to reduce sensory perception from an area of skin when we touch it ourselves, according to a new study from Linköping University published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The finding increases the understanding of how the brain distinguishes between being touched by another person and self-touch.

Blood test detects Alzheimer's damage before symptoms

A simple blood test reliably detects signs of brain damage in people on the path to developing Alzheimer's disease—even before they show signs of confusion and memory loss, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Germany.

Genetic study reveals possible new routes to treating osteoarthritis

In the largest genetic study of osteoarthritis to date, scientists have uncovered 52 new genetic changes linked to the disease, which doubles the number of genetic regions associated with the disabling condition.

Secret to sepsis may lie in rare cell

In a paper published in Nature Immunology, scientists from Seattle Children's Research Institute reveal how a rare group of white blood cells called basophils play an important role in the immune response to a bacterial infection, preventing the development of sepsis. Researchers say their findings could lead to better ways to prevent the dangerous immune response that strikes more than 30 million people worldwide every year.

Energizing the immune system to eat cancer

Immune cells called macrophages are supposed to serve and protect, but cancer has found ways to put them to sleep. Now researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania say they've identified how to fuel macrophages with the energy needed to attack and eat cancer cells. It is well established that macrophages can either support cancer cell growth and spread or hinder it. But most tumors also express a signal called CD47, which can lull macrophages into a deep sleep and prevent them from eating. Researchers have found that rewiring macrophage metabolism can overcome this signal and act like an alarm clock to rouse and prepare macrophages to go to work. Their findings were published in Nature Immunology today.

Molecular profiling could catch lung cancer early and lead to new treatments

The world's first genetic sequencing of precancerous lung lesions could pave the way for very early detection and new treatments, reports a new study led by UCL researchers.

Research sheds light on spinal cord injuries

Thousands of people worldwide suffer severe spinal cord injuries each year, but little is known about why these injuries often continue to deteriorate long after the initial damage occurs.

Unexpected link found between feeding and memory brain areas

The search for a mechanism that could explain how the protein complex NCOR1/2 regulates memory has revealed an unexpected connection between the lateral hypothalamus and the hippocampus, the feeding and the memory centers of the brain, respectively. The findings, which were published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience by a multidisciplinary team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, have implications for studies on brain function, including those related to autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities and neurodegenerative disease.

Firsthand accounts indicate fentanyl test strips are effective in reducing overdose risk

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so potent that a miniscule amount equivalent to several grains of saltcan cause afataloverdose. Yet it's difficult for people who use drugs to detect, which presents a major public health hazard given how commonly fentanyl is used to lace heroin or cocaine.

Mandibular contour surgery training system beneficial

(HealthDay)—An intraoral mandibular contour surgery (MCS) training system is effective for improving clinical surgery time and accuracy, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

Wait times have improved in VA health care system

(HealthDay)—From 2014 to 2017, there were improvements in wait times in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, resulting in reduced wait times versus the private sector (PS) in 2017, according to a study published online Jan. 18 in JAMA Network Open.

American yogurt: the race to find the next blockbuster

While Americans eat comparatively little yogurt, there is fierce competition to capture the latest trend and find a new hit seller to dethrone the superstar: Greek yogurt.

Researchers conduct first population-based study of suicide risk in people with autism

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After decades of research, much about this condition remains unclear. Researchers at the University of Utah Health conducted the first population-based study of suicidality in individuals with ASD in the United States. The 20-year retrospective study found that for individuals with autism, particularly females, the risk of suicide has increased through time compared to their non-autistic peers. The results are available online on January 17 in the journal Autism Research.

Cancer survivors face significant hardships related to medical bills

New research indicates that cancer survivors carry greater financial burdens related to medical debt payments and bills compared with individuals without a cancer history, with the greatest hardships in younger survivors. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study also found that among privately insured survivors, those who enrolled in high deductible health plans and did not have health savings accounts were particularly vulnerable to medical financial hardship.

Signs of memory problems could be symptoms of hearing loss instead

Older adults concerned about displaying early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease should also consider a hearing check-up, suggest recent findings.

Asking patients about sexual orientation, gender identity

Patients are open to being asked about their sexual orientation and gender identity in primary care, which can help make health care more welcoming, although the stage should be set for these questions and they should include a range of options, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Managing gender dysphoria in adolescents: A practical guide for family physicians

As a growing number of adolescents identify as transgender, a review aims to help primary care physicians care for this vulnerable group and its unique needs. The review, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), looks at emerging evidence for managing gender dysphoria, including social and medical approaches for youth who are transitioning.

Pakistan kicks off year's first polio campaign in 2019

A Pakistani health official says the country has kicked off its first nationwide polio vaccination campaign for the year in efforts to eradicate the crippling disease by the end of 2019.

Fecal transplants could be used to treat intestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease

Poop transplants have become routine treatment for nasty recurrent diarrheal infections, but trials for other conditions have hit a bum note. Now, the fecal faithful have re-examined the evidence.

How long do people need to be monitored after fainting?

For the first time, physicians in the Emergency Department (ED) have evidence-based recommendations on how best to catch the life-threatening conditions that make some people faint. New research published in Circulation suggests that low-risk patients can be safely sent home by a physician after spending two hours in the ED, and medium and high-risk patients can be sent home after six hours if no danger signals are detected.

Delaying newborn baths increases rates of breastfeeding

While it has been standard practice for decades to whisk newborns off to a bath within the first few hours of their birth, a new Cleveland Clinic study found that waiting to bathe a healthy newborn 12 or more hours after birth increased the rate of breastfeeding exclusivity during the newborn hospital stay.

Pregnant mom's high blood sugar affects kids at ages 10 to 14

Up to 20 percent of women develop gestational diabetes – high blood sugar – during pregnancy, but the long-term effects on their children haven't been known.

Study finds unique form of chronic sinusitis in older patients

Older patients with a diagnosis of chronic sinusitis—a disease of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses that often persists over many years—have a unique inflammatory signature that may render them less responsive to steroid treatment, according to a new study published by Vanderbilt researchers.

Women urged to put mental health on pre–conception checklist

Women who are depressed before conception are more likely to have children with poor psychosocial outcomes, University of Queensland researchers have found.

Expert discusses why middle-class black women dread the doctor's office

The anxiety of being black, female and at the mercy of the U.S. healthcare system first hit Tina Sacks when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Bette Parks Sacks, then in her 50s, intuitively knew something was wrong but, like many African American women, was afraid her doctor would give her the brush-off.

Risk of suicide—as well as depression—found in the genome

Yale researchers have discovered several genetic variants that signal the risk of serious suicide attempts and noted some variants have also been linked to major depressive disorder, they report Jan. 17 in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Study tracks link between PTSD treatment utilization and compensation exams

Veterans who sought compensation for service-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were more likely to attend PTSD-related treatment sessions before their compensation exams than after, but only if the veterans had strong beliefs about a treatment-compensation connection, according to a new study by Yale Department of Psychiatry researchers.

New therapeutic avenue in the fight against chronic liver disease

An international team of researchers has identified a novel route that regulates the signaling pathways induced by extracellular matrix (ECM). This may serve as a new diagnostic marker and therapeutic target in the fight against chronic liver diseases.

Antibodies to a retina protein to be used as a kidney cancer marker

Sechenov University researchers and German colleagues report a highly sensitive, painless method for diagnosing kidney cancer. This method is based on measuring of the immune response to arrestin-1, a retina protein that is synthesized in the cancerous cells of kidneys.

Exposure to chemicals during pregnancy is not associated with an increase in blood pressure

Exposure to certain chemicals such as phthalates, parabens or bisphenol A could be associated with a decrease in blood pressure during pregnancy. This is one of the main conclusions of a study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and published recently in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health.

Killer blows? Knockout study of pair of mouse MicroRNA provides cancer insight

The abnormal expression of different classes of molecules is known to be linked to various types of cells becoming cancerous. This is also true for the recently discovered group of small, noncoding molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs), although much remains to be investigated about how they can prevent or induce tumors.

Antiepileptic drugs linked to increased hospital stays in persons with Alzheimer's disease

People with Alzheimer's disease who used antiepileptic drugs had a higher number of accumulated hospital stays than people with Alzheimer's disease who did not use antiepileptics, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The results were published in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association. During a two-year follow-up, persons who initiated antiepileptic drugs accumulated approximately eight more hospital days per person-year.

Researchers zero in on type of cancer that killed John McCain

Hope for treating the kind of brain cancer that took the life of U.S. Sen. John McCain lies with a compound, identified by researchers at UWM and the Medical College of Wisconsin, that slows the growth of this aggressive cancer, called glioblastoma, in animal testing.

Why a gentler, less costly approach to IVF remains unpopular

There is a well-known way to make in vitro fertilization cheaper, easier and safer for women.

Diet or exercise—or both?

(HealthDay)—There's no doubt that an unhealthy diet and couch potato lifestyle put your health at risk, but when considering improvements, should you change one at a time or both at once?

A prescription for feeling young forever

(HealthDay)—You know about the value of exercise for heart health and for staying strong and independent as you age. There's also proof that exercise keeps your body young physically as well as mentally.

Teens keep active despite asthma or eczema, study finds

A fresh look by the University of Bristol at how teenagers are affected by their asthma, eczema or obesity has some reassuring findings published in BMJ Open today (Monday 21 January).

How new tests might help find treatments for cancers with no known origin

Where a cancer first grows in the body plays a huge part in choosing how to treat it. But for two in every 100 cancers diagnosed in the UK each year, doctors can't find that original tumour.

Research into opioid painkillers could provide clues for safer drug development

Researchers have taken a step closer to understanding the body's response to opioid painkillers such as morphine and fentanyl, which could lead to the development of safer opioid drugs.

Some pregnant women don't believe cannabis is harmful to their fetus

Up to one-third of pregnant women do not believe cannabis is harmful to their fetus, according to a new review by UBC researchers.

Body size may influence women's lifespan more than it does men's

Body size-height and weight- may influence women's lifespan far more than it does men's, suggests research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Taiwan's traditional medicine stores struggle on life support

Traditional medicine store owner Gu Cheng-pu knows her dispensary can only stay open as long as her ailing father-in-law lives, their careers hostage to a quirk in Taiwanese law that is killing off the industry.

Bangladesh 'Tree Man' returns to hospital as condition worsens

A Bangladeshi father dubbed "Tree Man" for the bark-like growths on his body returned to hospital on Sunday after his condition worsened, he told AFP.

Can nanotechnology rewire an injured spinal cord?

According to the World Health Organisation, up to a half-million people around the world suffer a spinal cord injury each year. Often caused by road traffic crashes, accidents or violence, the loss of motor control or paralysis significantly impacts quality of life and requires years of treatment and care. Spinal cord injury is also associated with lower rates of school enrollment and economic participation, and carries substantial individual and societal costs.

High fat diet increases risk of food poisoning from Listeria monocytogenes

APC Microbiome Ireland scientists based at University College Cork have shown for the first time that a high fat "western" diet reduces the efficiency of the immune system to fight infectious disease particularly in the gut, and to infection with the foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes.

Half of employers say they are less inclined to recruit obese candidates – it's not OK

Obesity is one of the most pressing and controversial public health challenges. It has the distinction of being a crisis about which most people have an opinion – often based on a simple diagnosis – but for which nobody has found a correspondingly neat solution.

Implantable device curbs seizures and improves cognition in epileptic rats

A protein-secreting device implanted into the hippocampus of epileptic rats reduces seizures by 93 percent in three months, finds preclinical research published in JNeurosci. These results support ongoing development of this technology and its potential translation into a new treatment for epilepsy.

How concussions may lead to epilepsy

Researchers have identified a cellular response to repeated concussions that may contribute to seizures in mice like those observed following traumatic brain injury in humans. The study, published in JNeurosci, establishes a new animal model that could help improve our understanding of post-traumatic epilepsy.

Mice pass on brain benefits of enriched upbringing to offspring

Mice growing up in a basic cage maintain lifelong visual cortex plasticity if their parents were raised in an environment that promoted social interaction and physical and mental stimulation, according to a multigenerational study published in eNeuro. The research suggests life experience may be transmitted from one generation to the next through a combination of changes in gene expression and parental caretaking behavior.

Biology news

New technologies enable better-than-ever details on genetically modified plants

Salk researchers have mapped the genomes and epigenomes of genetically modified plant lines with the highest resolution ever to reveal exactly what happens at a molecular level when a piece of foreign DNA is inserted. Their findings, published in the journal PLOS Genetics on January 15, 2019, elucidate the routine methods used to modify plants, and offer new ways to more effectively minimize potential off-target effects.

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

Over the years, scientists have identified dams, pollution and vessel noise as causes of the troubling decline of the Pacific Northwest's resident killer whales. Now, they may have found a new and more surprising culprit: pink salmon.

Ecological benefits of part-night lighting revealed

Switching off street lights to save money and energy could have a positive knock-on effect on our nocturnal pollinators, according to new research.

How staying in shape is vital for reproductive success

Cells must keep their shape and proportions to successfully reproduce through cell division, finds new research from the Francis Crick Institute and King's College London.

Cane toads: What they do in the shadows

Cane toads are picking up some shady habits, according to a new study co-authored by a Macquarie University researcher.

Leaf age determines the division of labor in plant stress responses

A new study from researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research published in the journal PNAS shows that the crosstalk between plant responses to physical and biological stresses varies between young and old leaves to enable optimal plant performance when the two kinds of stress are encountered simultaneously.

Haze smoke affects butterfly caterpillars

NUS biologists have discovered that haze affects the survival and development of butterflies, which could have an adverse impact on our environment.

Competing species can both survive, study finds

When species compete for limited resources, structures in their environment can be the difference between coexistence or one eliminating another. Relationships between species also are important, according to new research by University of Oregon scientists.

China seems to confirm scientist's gene-edited babies claim

Chinese authorities appear to have confirmed a scientist's unpublished claim that he helped make the world's first gene-edited babies and that a second pregnancy is underway, and say he could face consequences for his work.

Having stressed out ancestors improves immune response to stress

Having ancestors who were frequently exposed to stressors can improve one's own immune response to stressors, according to Penn State researchers. The results suggest that family history should be considered to predict or understand the health implications of stress.

Herpetologists describe new species of snake found in stomach of predator snake

Herpetologists at The University of Texas at Arlington have described a previously unknown species of snake that was discovered inside the stomach of another snake more than four decades ago.

Hong Kong failing to tackle wildlife smuggling epidemic: study

Hong Kong must do more to crack down on illegal wildlife smuggling by ending legal loopholes and lenient sentences, conservation groups said Monday, as they detailed the city's role in the lucrative trade.

Second woman carrying gene-edited baby in China: state media

A researcher who claimed to have created the world's first genetically-edited babies will face a Chinese police investigation, state media said Monday, as authorities confirmed that a second woman fell pregnant during the experiment.

DNA's on/off switch

The enzyme DNA primase synthesizes the RNA primers essential to initiate the replication of our genomes.

Researchers report mechanism for cellular signal amplification by scaffold proteins

Cellular signaling pathways involved in everything from the proliferation of fatty tissue to the death of neurons in the brain are tightly regulated by "cascades" of sequentially activated enzymes, MAP kinases. These enzymes are held in the proper position for activation by "scaffold" proteins.

Plant peptide helps roots to branch out in the right places

How do plants space out their roots? A Japanese research team has identified a peptide and its receptor that help lateral roots to grow with the right spacing. The findings were published on December 20, 2018 in the online edition of Developmental Cell.

Green turtle: The success of the reintroduction program in Cayman Islands

The reintroduction program for the green turtle in the Cayman Islands is crucial for species recovery. The turtles are threatened by the effects of human overexploitation, according to a study published in the journal Molecular Ecology led by experts Marta Pascual and Carlos Carreras from the Evolutionary Genetics laboratory of the University of Barcelona.

Global mercury pollution threatens to impact the energy metabolism of birds

Mercury is a highly toxic and pervasive pollutant that has dramatically increased in the environment as a result of coal combustion, gold mining, cement production, hospital waste incineration, and various other human activities around the globe. Its impacts on birds and other wildlife are not yet fully understood, but a new study published in the journal Environmental Pollution suggests that current levels of mercury contamination in many parts of the world are capable of compromising the ability of birds, and likely other vertebrates, to both conserve and rapidly exert energy when needed.

Research on environmental DNA in salmon monitoring could have economic benefits

Each year wild salmon return to the streams in which they were born to spawn and die. Salmon fishery managers must ensure that adequate numbers of fish return each year to spawn and produce offspring for future harvest. It is expensive and labor intensive to count returning salmon, especially in remote streams.

New drug resistance process found in bacteria

A team of researchers has discovered a new process capable of generating resistance to synthetic antibacterial drugs within bacterial populations long before they are put to clinical use.

China says doctor behind gene-edited babies acted on his own

Chinese investigators have determined that the doctor behind the reported birth of two babies whose genes had been edited in hopes of making them resistant to the AIDS virus acted on his own and will be punished for any violations of the law, a state media report said Monday.

Study to look at a dog's emotional attachment to toys

Does your dog have an attachment to toys? If so, researchers from the University of Bristol Vet School and School of Psychological Science want to hear from dog owners for a new study on pets' attachment to toys.


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