Thursday, February 20, 2020

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Feb 20

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 20, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Highly sensitive pressure sensors for robotics and healthcare applications

Study finds microbes can alter an environment dramatically before dying out

Old carbon reservoirs unlikely to cause massive greenhouse gas release

Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered

Bumblebees can experience an object using one sense and later recognize it using another

Researchers develop new method to isolate atomic sheets and create new materials

Microchannel network hydrogel-induced ischemic blood perfusion connection

How newborn stars prepare for the birth of planets

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

Watching TV helps birds make better food choices

Illuminating interactions between decision-making and the environment

Can AI flag disease outbreaks faster than humans? Not quite

You might just be addicted: Smartphone use physically affects your brain, study says

Plant-based relatives of cholesterol could give boost to gene therapy

First genetic evidence of resistance in some bats to white-nose syndrome, a devastating fungal disease

Astronomy & Space news

How newborn stars prepare for the birth of planets

An international team of astronomers used two of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world to create more than three hundred images of planet-forming disks around very young stars in the Orion Clouds. These images reveal new details about the birthplaces of planets and the earliest stages of star formation.

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

Surprising new data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suggests the smooth, settled "brim" of the Sombrero galaxy's disk may be concealing a turbulent past. Hubble's sharpness and sensitivity resolves tens of thousands of individual stars in the Sombrero's vast, extended halo, the region beyond a galaxy's central portion, typically made of older stars. These latest observations of the Sombrero are turning conventional theory on its head, showing only a tiny fraction of older, metal-poor stars in the halo, plus an unexpected abundance of metal-rich stars typically found only in a galaxy's disk, and the central bulge. Past major galaxy mergers are a possible explanation, though the stately Sombrero shows none of the messy evidence of a recent merger of massive galaxies.

Eighteen-hour-year planet on edge of destruction

Astronomers from the University of Warwick have observed an exoplanet orbiting a star in just over 18 hours, the shortest orbital period ever observed for a planet of its type.

Sub-Neptune sized planet validated with the habitable-zone planet finder

A signal originally detected by the Kepler spacecraft has been validated as an exoplanet using the Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF), an astronomical spectrograph built by a Penn State team and recently installed on the 10m Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas. The HPF provides the highest precision measurements to date of infrared signals from nearby low-mass stars, and astronomers used it to validate the candidate planet by excluding all possibilities of contaminating signals to very high level of probability. The details of the findings appear in the Astronomical Journal.

Journey to the center of Mars: A new compositional model for the red planet

While InSight's seismometer has been patiently waiting for the next big marsquake to illuminate its interior and define its crust-mantle-core structure, two scientists, Takashi Yoshizaki (Tohoku University) and Bill McDonough (Tohoku University and University of Maryland, College Park), have built a new compositional model for Mars. They used rocks from Mars and measurements from orbiting satellites to predict the depth to its core-mantle boundary, some 1,800 km beneath the surface and have been able to suggest that its core contains moderate amounts of sulfur, oxygen and hydrogen as light elements.

Sex in space: Could technology meet astronauts' intimate needs?

The 2018 movie A.I. Rising explores how machines could fulfill desires and support humans during space travel. Lo and behold, it might contain the solution to problems related to space exploration.

One small step: Getting started with astronomy

Keen to get into astronomy or stargazing, but no idea how to start? Don't worry—it's easier than you think.

Stargazing with computers: What machine learning can teach us about the cosmos

Gazing up at the night sky in a rural area, you'll probably see the shining moon surrounded by stars. If you're lucky, you might spot the furthest thing visible with the naked eye—the Andromeda galaxy. It's the nearest neighbor to our galaxy, the Milky Way. But that's just the tiniest fraction of what's out there. When the Department of Energy's (DOE) Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera at the National Science Foundation's Vera Rubin Observatory turns on in 2022, it will take photos of 37 billion galaxies and stars over the course of a decade.

Technology news

Highly sensitive pressure sensors for robotics and healthcare applications

Microscopic sensors that can detect small changes in pressure have numerous useful applications, particularly for the development of robots and health-monitoring wearable devices. Most existing capacitive and transistor-based pressure sensors, however, have a number of limitations, including low sensitivity, slow response speed, high power consumption and unsatisfactory stability.

Tiny, battery-free ID chip can help combat losses to counterfeiting

To combat supply chain counterfeiting, which can cost companies billions of dollars annually, MIT researchers have invented a cryptographic ID tag that's small enough to fit on virtually any product and verify its authenticity.

Magnet-controlled bioelectronic implant could relieve pain

A team of Rice University engineers has introduced the first neural implant that can be both programmed and charged remotely with a magnetic field.

Eclypsium security report shows unsigned firmware as ongoing headache

Risky business has an impact on computer users and known brand-name vendors, and it is all about firmware, rarely scanned for vulnerabilities, and which can subvert existing security controls. A new report from enterprise firmware security company Eclypsium reports on Windows and Linux firmware vulnerabilities.

Silicon Valley inventor of 'cut, copy and paste' dies

Silicon Valley on Wednesday was mourning a pioneering computer scientist whose accomplishments included inventing the widely relied on "cut, copy and paste" command.

Google updates terms in plain language after EU scrutiny

Google is attempting to make sure people know exactly what they're signing up for when they use its online services—though that will still mean reading a lengthy document.

The car is king in L.A. County—despite growing public transit options

Despite Los Angeles County's legendary traffic jams, residents remain wedded to their cars and reluctant to use public transportation due to concerns over safety and convenience, according to the new USC Dornsife/Union Bank LABarometer mobility survey. But in identifying specific concerns, the survey, which was conducted by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR), also pointed to potential solutions for increasing use of public transportation.

AI agrees with mom: Take good care of yourself

Analysis by researchers at the University of Waterloo using artificial intelligence (AI) supports the conventional wisdom that taking care of yourself makes you feel good.

Protecting essential connections in a tangled web

It's winter. And as any frequent traveler knows, winter can mean airport weather delays. A blizzard in Minneapolis, a major airport hub, can quickly lead to delays in balmy Miami or foggy London.

New study presents all‐solid‐state printed bipolar Li–S batteries

Ultrahigh‐capacity and fire‐resistant batteries have been developed. The new battery has improved both the performance and safety of the "lithium-sulfur batteries," which have much larger capacities than commercialized lithium ion batteries, thus is easy to manufacture via the printing process.

France shuts oldest reactors, but nuclear power still reigns

France will start closing its oldest atomic power plant on Saturday after 43 years in operation, the first in a series of reactor shutdowns but hardly a signal the country will reduce its reliance on nuclear energy anytime soon.

TikTok offers feature that gives parents more control over their kids' access

Parents concerned with their children's TikTok obsession can perk up with the app's new feature that lets them have more control over how many videos is too many.

Tesla surges amid high solar power expectations

It looks like the sun is continuing to shine on Tesla.

Bluetooth stickers on your clothing? Startup Wiliot gets $20M for tracking tech

Giants in technology and consumer products are funneling more cash into a small tech startup in San Diego that's developing tiny bluetooth stickers that can transform everyday items—like clothing, wallets, or Amazon packages—to trackable "connected" devices.

New artificial intelligence algorithm better predicts corn yield

With some reports predicting the precision agriculture market will reach $12.9 billion by 2027, there is an increasing need to develop sophisticated data-analysis solutions that can guide management decisions in real time. A new study from an interdisciplinary research group at University of Illinois offers a promising approach to efficiently and accurately process precision ag data.

US expert says 5G tiff could affect information exchanges

The top U.S. diplomat for cybersecurity policy says he welcomes European Union moves toward recognizing the risks at stake in 5G technology, but warned that the U.S. will not be able to share top-level information with countries that choose "untrusted" vendors, such as China's Huawei.

CBS streaming service to grow with Viacom, Paramount videos

ViacomCBS is planning a new streaming service that will combine the existing CBS All Access service with Paramount movies and shows from Viacom channels such as MTV and BET.

New Mexico sues Google over collection of children's data

New Mexico's attorney general sued Google Thursday over allegations the tech company is illegally collecting personal data generated by children in violation of federal and state laws.

Going viral: Demand for disease-themed movies and games explodes

As the world confronts the spread of a deadly new virus, interest in disease-themed movies, games and TV series has exploded, with worried viewers turning to documentaries and disaster flicks for answers and ways to cope.

Qantas cuts flights to Asia as coronavirus hits profits

Australian airline Qantas on Thursday announced a major reduction in flights to Asia as the deadly coronavirus outbreak that began in China impacts demand and eats into profits.

Boeing supports state tax change to avoid EU sanctions

US aerospace manufacturer Boeing said Wednesday it supports a tax reform in Washington state that would eliminate a tax break but defuse a long-standing dispute with the European Union.

Coronavirus buffets Air France as 2019 profits dive

French-Dutch airline Air France-KLM said Thursday the coronavirus has blown a large hole in 2020 earnings to date while separately unveiling lower profits for 2019.

Estonia starts building 100-million-euro data center

An Estonian tech company has kicked off construction of the Baltic states' largest commercial data center, an estimated 100-million-euro ($108-million) project aimed at large financial services, telecom and technology firms in the region.

'Wood' you like to recycle concrete?

Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science, a part of The University of Tokyo, have developed a new procedure for recycling concrete with the addition of discarded wood. They found that the correct proportion of inputs can yield a new building material with a bending strength superior to that of the original concrete. This research may help drastically reduce construction costs, as well as slash carbon emissions.

Asia-Pacific airlines could lose $27.8 bn to coronavirus: IATA

Airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined $27.8 billion of revenue this year in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association said on Thursday.

Software giant SAP shuts India offices after swine flu scare

German software giant SAP on Thursday shut down their offices in India for an "extensive sanitation" after two employees tested positive for H1N1 swine flu at its Bangalore headquarters, the company said.

Uber reactivates Colombia service after three-week hiatus

Transport platform Uber restarted its operations in Colombia on Thursday following a three-week suspension after it lost a case brought by taxi drivers for unfair business practices.

Medicine & Health news

Can AI flag disease outbreaks faster than humans? Not quite

Did an artificial-intelligence system beat human doctors in warning the world of a severe coronavirus outbreak in China?

You might just be addicted: Smartphone use physically affects your brain, study says

In a world that relies on people having smartphones—from work emails to cashless businesses—developing an addiction to your device is becoming increasingly difficult. While some think it's only a mental issue, a new study suggests that this constant usage physically affects your brain the same way drug addiction does.

Plant-based relatives of cholesterol could give boost to gene therapy

Gene-infused nanoparticles used for combating disease work better when they include plant-based relatives of cholesterol because their shape and structure help the genes get where they need to be inside cells.

Scientists find many gene 'drivers' of cancer, but warn: Don't ignore 'passengers'

A massive analysis of the entire genomes of 2,658 people with 38 different types of cancer has identified mutations in 179 genes and gene regulators as "drivers"—variations in DNA sequences that lead to the development of cancer.

Scientists solve long-debated puzzle of how the intestine heals itself

Deep within the lining of the human intestine lies the source of the organ's ability to renew itself and recover from damage: intestinal stem cells (ISCs), lodged in pockets of tissue called crypts, generate the cells that continuously repopulate the intestinal lining. Even the stem cells themselves have a safety net: when they're damaged, healthy replacements appear in less than a week.

Origins of immune system mapped, opening doors for new cancer immunotherapies

A first cell atlas of the human thymus gland could lead to new immune therapies to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases. Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Newcastle University and Ghent University, Belgium, mapped thymus tissue through the human lifespan to understand how it develops and makes vital immune cells called T cells. In the future, this information could help researchers to generate an artificial thymus and engineer improved therapeutic T cells.

New treatments for diabetes may lie in metabolic products of intestinal flora

In a study published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers at McGill University, Kyoto University and INSERM/University of Paris show that an organic compound produced by the intestinal flora, the metabolite 4-Cresol, exhibits protective effects against type 1 and type 2 diabetes by stimulating the proliferation and function of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. These results pave the way for new therapeutic options that could improve the situation of millions of patients.

New insights into the processes that cause Parkinson's disease

In a breakthrough for Parkinson's disease, scientists at EPFL have reconstructed the process by which Lewy bodies form in the brain of patients. The study offers new insights into how Parkinson's disease begins and evolves, and opens up a set of potential new treatment targets.

Scientists identify drug fragments that could lead to new cancer drugs

Researchers have found drug fragments, which could help improve our understanding of the function of a key cancer protein and ultimately lead to new drug treatments.

Scientists identify new human genes controlling HIV infection

Viruses are parasites. The only way they can grow is by hijacking their hosts. When they infect a human host, viruses use human proteins to multiply and modify the human cells to sustain the infection. At the same time, the human host activates defense mechanisms to fight the infection.

New results on the function of the tumor suppressor HERC protein

The RAF protein could be a therapeutical target to treat tumor growth in regulated pathways by the p38 protein, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of experts of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Barcelona and the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL).

Scientists aim to learn how serotonin modulates behavior

In popular experience the story of how serotonin modulates the brain might seem simple: pop an antidepressant, serotonin levels go up, mood improves. But neuroscientists acknowledge how little they know about how the neurotransmitter affects circuits and behavior in the incredibly complex human brain. To reveal the basics of how serotonin really works, scientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, funded by a new $1.16 million, four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, will employ a far simpler model: the nematode worm C. elegans..

New discovery has important implications for treating common eye disease

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have made an important discovery with implications for those living with a common, debilitating eye disease (age-related macular degeneration, AMD) that can cause blindness.

MicroRNA exhibit unexpected function in driving cancer

Researchers long thought that only one strand of a double-stranded microRNA can silence genes. Though recent evidence has challenged that dogma, it's unclear what the other strand does, and how the two may be involved in cancer. New research from Thomas Jefferson University has revealed that both strands of some microRNA coordinate to act on the same cancer pathways, across multiple cancers, to drive aggressiveness and growth—two hallmarks of poor prognosis for cancer patients.

Some antibiotics prescribed during pregnancy linked with birth defects

Children of mothers prescribed macrolide antibiotics during early pregnancy are at an increased risk of major birth defects, particularly heart defects, compared with children of mothers prescribed penicillin, finds a study published by The BMJ today.

Rise in global deaths and disability due to lung diseases over past three decades

There has been an increase in deaths and disability due to chronic respiratory (lung) diseases over the past three decades, finds an analysis of data from 195 countries published by The BMJ today.

Help with medication reduces hospital admissions in older patients: study

People aged 65 years and over are less likely to be readmitted to hospital if they are given help with their medication for three months after discharge, new research from the University of Bradford (UK) has found.

New study supports the safety of varenicline

A real-world study of over 600,000 adult participants without a history of depression has found that the stop-smoking medication varenicline (marketed as Chantix in the US and Champix elsewhere in the world) does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular or neuropsychiatric hospitalization compared with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). These findings, published in the scientific journal Addiction, confirm those of earlier clinical trials, providing further evidence of the safety of varenicline as an aid to stop smoking.

Study shows dietitians are an effective part of weight loss

A new study in the journal Family Practice shows that intensive behavioral therapy from dietitians may be a very effective ways for older Americans to lose weight.

Paying attention to complaints can protect nurses from violence

Complaints from patients and their family members could signal future violence against nurses and should not be ignored, suggests new research from the University of British Columbia.

Two former Japan cruise ship passengers die

Two elderly former passengers from the coronavirus-wracked Diamond Princess died Thursday, Japanese authorities said, as fears mount for those who have left the ship after testing negative for the virus.

China sees drop in new virus cases, but more deaths abroad

China on Thursday touted a big drop in new virus infections as proof its epidemic control efforts are working, but the toll grew abroad with deaths in Japan and South Korea.

Upbeat Chinese FM says virus control efforts 'are working'

China's efforts to control the deadly outbreak of a new coronavirus "are working", Beijing's top diplomat said Thursday, attributing an easing in new cases to his country's "forceful action" against the illness.

New study indicates amino acid may be useful in treating ALS

A naturally occurring amino acid is gaining increased attention from scientists as a possible treatment for ALS following a new study published today in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology. The study showed that the amino acid, L-serine, successfully reduced ALS-like changes in an animal model of ALS.

New research takes p*** out of incontinence

Millions of people might eventually be spared the embarrassment and extreme isolation caused by wetting themselves, thanks to new research.

Patients frequently refuse insulin therapy, delaying blood sugar control

Patients with type 2 diabetes who have high levels of blood sugar are at greater risk of serious complications such as chronic kidney disease, heart disease and blindness. While lifestyle changes and medications can help some patients better control their blood sugar levels, type 2 diabetes tends to progress, and patients typically need more intense treatment to continue to maintain blood sugar control. Insulin offers the most robust way to control blood glucose, but insulin therapy is often delayed, sometimes by several years. A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital finds that more than 40 percent of patients refuse a physician's recommendation of insulin therapy. The study also finds that patients who decline insulin therapy had worse blood sugar control and it took them significantly longer to lower their blood sugar levels than patients who began insulin therapy. The team's findings are published in Diabetic Medicine.

Lassa fever hits Lagos as Nigeria deaths top 100

An outbreak of Lassa in Nigeria has killed 103 people this year, health authorities said, as the first confirmed case was reported in the economic hub Lagos.

New Chinese virus cases decline, but method revised again

New virus cases in China have again declined, up just 394, after authorities on Thursday again changed how they count new daily infections. They are now discounting cases that came back negative after laboratory tests.

Research reveals link between high cholesterol levels and risk of aortic valve disease

Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford have found that while having high cholesterol levels does not influence your risk of aortic or mitral valve regurgitation, it does increase your risk of developing another major heart valve disease—aortic stenosis.

New model of C. elegans helps progress study of rare genetic disease

The IDIBELL Neurometabolic Diseases group, with international collaboration, has identified a model of chromosome X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) in C. elegans. X-ALD is a rare disorder of the nervous system with no available treatment.

Modified tuberculosis vaccine as a therapy for bladder cancer

The human immune system can recognize and eliminate not only germs but also cancer cells. This is why treatments with weakened germs can help the immune system in its fight against cancer. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin have genetically modified the tuberculosis vaccine BCG in a way that it stimulates the immune system more specifically. Consequently, the new vaccine offers much greater protection against tuberculosis. A clinical study with patients suffering from cancer of the bladder has now shown that a therapy with VPM1002 could successfully prevent the recurrence of tumors in almost half of the patients who had not responded previously to the BCG therapy. The results could lead to the early approval of the drug for the treatment of cancer of the bladder so that as many patients as possible can profit from this quickly.

Vaccines are like teams: They work better together and when you keep them updated

Influenza, measles, mumps and coronavirus COVID-19 are illnesses people hear about on a regular basis.

Renewed call to address health gap for people with intellectual disability

UNSW Professor Julian Trollor will today give evidence at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Brain measurements reveal success of public health campaigns

By studying how our brains "synchronize" during shared experiences, Konstanz researchers are shedding light on what makes public health campaigns effective—and in the process paving the way to revealing the neural underpinnings of group processes.

Bariatric surgery effective against early-onset obesity

Surgical treatment of obesity is as effective for individuals who developed the disorder early, by the age of 20, as for those who have developed obesity later in life, a study from the University of Gothenburg shows.

To save on healthcare, Americans are willing to make major lifestyle changes

Many Americans are willing to make significant personal tradeoffs to lower their health insurance rates or medical costs, such as agreeing to 24/7 personal monitoring or working with artificial intelligence instead of a human doctor, the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has found.

When will there be a coronavirus vaccine?

The genetic code of the new coronavirus has been found: it is closely related to the SARS virus from 2003. Professor of Molecular Virology, Eric Snijder, has been researching coronaviruses for years. We asked him a few questions about the outbreak.

Decision time predicts the risk of depression relapse

In a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, researchers have shown that it is possible to predict the risk of relapsing into depression after stopping antidepressant medication. People who relapse take longer to decide how much effort to invest for a reward.

Why obesity is more common than you think

The World Health Organization has described obesity as a global epidemic and one of today's "most blatantly visible yet neglected public health problems." In the last few years reports on the rise of this life-threatening condition among children and adults across the globe have been alarming.

Getting children to eat their greens? Both parents need to set an example

A positive example set by both the mother and the father promotes the consumption of vegetables, fruit and berries among 3–5-year-old children, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The study explored the association of the home food environment and parental influence with the consumption of vegetables among kindergarten-aged children. The findings were published in Food Quality and Preference.

New front opened in fight against common cancer driver

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have revealed a new vulnerability in lymphomas that are driven by one of the most common cancer-causing changes in cells.

The making of a living ovarian cancer biobank

It's an ordinarily overcast day, but the artificial lights of the lab radiate a crude brightness for Professor Stephen Taylor and his team.

China changes method of counting virus infected... again

China said Thursday it has again changed the method of counting patients with the novel coronavirus and will now include only those diagnosed by sophisticated laboratory testing.

A deep dive into cellular aging

Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and Harvard University have discovered that mitochondria trigger senescence, the sleep-like state of aged cells, through communication with the cell's nucleus—and identified an FDA-approved drug that helped suppress the damaging effects of the condition in cells and mice. The discovery, published in Genes & Development, could lead to treatments that promote healthy aging or prevent age-associated diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and more.

Most youth with chronic fatigue syndrome undiagnosed

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) remains largely undiagnosed in youth, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in the Child & Youth Care Forum.

Moderate-to-late preemies likely go home at 36 weeks

Moderate-to-late preterm babies (born at a gestational age of 32 to 36 weeks) with no significant medical problems on admission are likely to be discharged at 36 weeks of postmenstrual age, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Perinatology.

Want to live longer? Stay in school, study suggests

Life expectancy in the United States has been in decline for the first time in decades, and public health officials have identified a litany of potential causes, including inaccessible health care, rising drug addiction and rates of mental health disorders, and socio-economic factors. But disentangling these variables and assessing their relative impact has been difficult.

How AI helps people with atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke and other heart-related complications. Up to 6.1 million people in the U.S. have the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How the brain detects fine differences

How do people manage to find their way around the neighborhood even though the streets look similar? Researchers at the University of Bonn have gained new insights into a mechanism that very likely plays a major role in this ability. Especially interesting: It only seems to work well when the brain is oscillating in a special rhythm. The results have been published in the journal eLife.

Why it's so difficult to regulate the online wellness industry

Netflix recently released Gwyneth Paltrow's new six-part series, The Goop Lab. Each episode explores an area of the wellness industry, including psychedelics, cold therapy, lifestyle interventions, female pleasure and sexual healing. The series has received criticism from the scientific and medical community with experts concerned about Netflix legitimizing pseudoscience and misinformation.

Colorectal cancer partner-in-crime identified

A protein that helps colorectal cancer cells spread to other parts of the body could be an effective treatment target.

Language disorders as indicators of the diagnosis and progression of Huntington's disease

Huntington's disease is a hereditary neurodegenerative disorder caused by a gene on chromosome 4 that affects a very important area of the brain, the striatum. People are born with the defective gene but symptoms do not appear until the age of 30 or 40. This disease, in addition to motor impairments, cognitive and affective problems, also involves changes in language. A study shows that the first symptoms of the disease are revealed through linguistic changes in spontaneous speech.

Finding new clues to brain cancer treatment

Glioblastoma is an aggressive, killer disease. While victims of this fast-moving brain tumor comprise only about 15% of all people with brain cancer, its victims rarely survive more than a few years after diagnosis.

New therapy stops seizures in mouse model of rare childhood epilepsy

Seizure disorders in babies are frightening and heartbreaking. A new basic science breakthrough offers hope for a potential treatment for rare developmental and epileptic encephalopathies resulting from a single genetic mutation. The gene in question, called SCN8A, controls a sodium channel that allows neurons to transmit an electric signal. When this gene is mutated, these channels can become hyperactive, resulting in recurrent seizures. The average age of onset of SCN8A-related encephalopathy is just four months old.

Outreach effective for opioid use disorder long-term treatment

Proactive outreach, including knocking on the doors of individuals who recently overdosed on opioids, can be an effective way to engage more people who have opioid use disorder with long-term care, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Study highlights potential need to standardize quality measurement for cardiovascular care

In a new study published today in JAMA Cardiology, a team of researchers led by Rishi Wadhera, MD, MPP, MPhil, an investigator in the Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), found that hospitals that received awards from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) for the delivery of high-quality care for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and heart failure (HF) were more likely to be financially penalized under value-based programs than other hospitals.

E-cigarette users are exposed to potentially harmful levels of metal linked to DNA damage

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have completed a cross-sectional human study that compares biomarkers and metal concentrations in the urine of e-cigarette users, nonsmokers, and cigarette smokers.

New drug combination restores beta cell function in animal model

The loss of the identity of insulin-secreting beta cells in the islet of Langerhans, a process also called beta cell dedifferentiation, has been proposed to be a main reason for the development of diabetes. If and how dedifferentiated beta cells can be targeted by pharmacological intervention for beta cell regeneration is unknown. In a new study in mice, Helmholtz Zentrum München in collaboration with Novo Nordisk, demonstrated for the first time that a targeted combinatorial drug treatment is able to restore beta cell function, achieve beta cell redifferentiation and therefore potentially open new ways for diabetes remission.

Study highlights new strategies for helping children process negative emotions

A recent study of indigenous people in southern Chile challenges some Western assumptions about children's emotional capabilities and highlights the potential value of spending time outdoors to help children regulate their emotions.

Psychologists discover secret to achieving goals

Research led by scientists at Queen Mary University of London has provided new insights into why people often make unrealistic plans that are doomed to fail.

Study shows long-term survival benefit for certain patients with advanced lung cancer

According to the results of a large, global study led by Yale Cancer Center researchers, even a tiny amount of a biomarker known as PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand1) can predict a long-term survival benefit from using pembrolizumab (Keytruda). The drug is one of the first checkpoint inhibitors to be developed and used in cancer treatment. The findings are published online today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

A potential new weapon against deadly brain and soft tissue cancers

Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have designed a new drug cocktail that kills some types of brain and soft tissue cancers by tricking the cancer cells to behave as if they were starving for their favorite food—glucose. The researchers' findings were recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and may pave the way for targeted cancer treatments with greater efficacy and less harmful side effects.

Risk of coronavirus importation in Africa

Egypt, Algeria and Republic of South Africa are the African countries most at risk for coronavirus COVID-19 importation in the continent, due to high air traffic with the contaminated Chinese provinces. But these countries are also among the best equipped on the continent to quickly detect and deal with new cases. In other African countries, the risk of importation is lower, but health organizationdeficiencies raise concerns about rapid spread.

Patients most at risk of overdose at the beginning and after end of methadone treatment

A new study, led by RCSI researchers, has found that patients receiving methadone treatment are most at risk of overdosing in the month following the end of methadone treatment and during the first four weeks of treatment.

Developmental disability diagnosis more likely in rural children

(HealthDay)—Children living in rural areas are more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental disability compared with those living in urban areas, according to a study published online Feb. 19 in National Health Statistics Reports, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Polymer-based stents noninferior for patients with high bleeding risk

(HealthDay)—Polymer-based zotarolimus-eluting stents are noninferior to polymer-free drug-coated stents among patients at high bleeding risk undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), according to a study published online Feb. 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Research opens new avenues to reduce foot, toe amputations

Emerging research may help doctors devise better ways to prevent some of the tens of thousands of amputations unrelated to traumatic injury that occur in the U.S. each year.

Earth-based or star-bound, heed these heart-healthy lessons from space

On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn made history when he became the first American to orbit the Earth.

How 'Stranger Things' widened awareness of a rare disorder

(HealthDay)—Teenage actor Gaten Matarazzo III was born with a rare genetic disorder that affects bone development. And ever since his Netflix series "Stranger Things" became a hit, public interest in the condition has shot up, a new study finds.

Your best bet against heart attack, stroke? Lower blood pressure

(HealthDay)—Millions of Americans with high blood pressure are at risk of heart attack and stroke, but just a few changes might cut that risk.

Therapeutic cooling effectively targets site of brain injury

When a newborn suffers lack of oxygen before or during birth, doctors have very little time to save precious brain tissue. The only proven effective way to treat babies with hypoxic brain injuries is by reducing body temperature through controlled cooling. In a new study, Children's Hospital Los Angeles neonatologist Tai-Wei Wu, MD, uses leading-edge imaging to measure temperature deep in the brains of these patients. The results demonstrate effective cooling in the deep areas of the brain, which are most often damaged by lack of oxygen.

About 8 percent of West Virginia babies are exposed to alcohol shortly before birth

About 8 percent of West Virginia newborns are exposed to alcohol two to four weeks before birth, according to a new study.

Survey of Canadians' condom use reveals demographic, social trends in protective practices

Researchers at McMaster University have peered into the most intimate moments of sexually active women and men across Canada to ask if they're using condoms, all in an effort to gather data that could inform decisions around public health and sex education.

Clinical trial exposes deadly kidney cancer's Achilles' heel

An experimental drug already shown to be safe and help some patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma, a deadly form of kidney cancer, effectively disables its molecular target. The finding from a team of researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center's Kidney Cancer Program, published in the Feb. 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, reveals a weakness in this cancer that could be further exploited with other targeted treatments in the future.

Study shows UV technology raises the standard in disinfecting ORs and medical equipment

Ultraviolet (UV) technology developed by the New York-based firm PurpleSun Inc. eliminates more than 96 percent of pathogens in operating rooms (ORs) and on medical equipment, compared to 38 percent using manual cleaning methods that rely on chemicals to disinfect surfaces, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC).

Physics tool helps track cancer cell diversity

Cancer cells are a wily adversary. One reason the disease outfoxes many potential treatments is because of the diversity of the cancer cell population. Researchers have found this population difficult to characterize and quantify.

Fast treatment via mobile stroke unit reduced survivor disability

Treating stroke patients in specialized ambulances speeds treatment and reduces patients' disability, according to late breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020.

Follow-up study suggests brain stents are safe and effective for reducing recurrent stroke risk

A brain stent appears safe and effective for reducing the risk of recurrent stroke in patients with cholesterol-clogged brain arteries, according to late breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020.

Research shows new drug helps to preserve brain cells for a time after stroke

After 50 years of research and the testing of over 1,000 drugs, there is new hope for preserving brain cells for a time after stroke. Treating acute ischemic stroke patients with an experimental neuroprotective drug, combined with a surgical procedure to remove the clot improves outcomes as shown by clinical trial results published today in The Lancet.

Half of transgender youth avoid disclosing gender identity to a health care provider

Researchers at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh surveyed patients in a local clinic providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth and found that a surprisingly high number of them intentionally avoided disclosing their gender identity to doctors outside the clinic.

Australian evacuees from virus-hit ship begin 2nd quarantine

Around 180 Australians evacuated from a virus-stricken cruise ship in Japan arrived Thursday in the city of Darwin to begin a second quarantine period.

Addiction in paradise: Seychelles battles heroin crisis

On a plain suburban street in Seychelles, far from the idyllic coastline and luxury resorts pampering honeymooners and paradise-seekers, heroin addicts queue anxiously for their daily dose of methadone.

Single gene cluster loss may contribute to initiation/progression of multiple myeloma

The loss of one copy of the miR15a/miR16-1 gene cluster promoted initiation and progression of multiple myeloma in mice.

A significant number of New Zealand teenagers are missing school because they cannot afford menstrual products

"Period poverty is when people are unable to access menstrual items due to the cost," says Dr. Terry Fleming from the Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington's Faculty of Health. "Those suffering from period poverty miss out on school, work, and other opportunities."

Brisbane's grass pollen season the worst on record

Brisbane's grass pollen levels over the past two months have been up to four times higher than levels recorded anywhere in Australia since comparative records have been kept, QUT's Professor Janet Davies told a federal parliamentary inquiry this week.

Respiratory syncytial virus outbreaks tend to occur from October to May

Q: My granddaughter is less than 1 year old and has had RSV twice. I seem to hear about RSV more often these days. How common is it? Could it have lasting effects on my granddaughter's health?

Lower income linked to certain kidney diseases

A new study found an inverse association between socioeconomic status and certain kidney diseases. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN.

Racial/ethnic disparities in stroke-prevention among patients undergoing dialysis

In a study of patients with kidney failure and atrial fibrillation, racial/ethnic minorities experienced higher rates of stroke compared with non-Hispanic White patients, and they were less likely to fill prescriptions of stroke-preventive medications. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of JASN, indicate that equalizing the distribution of such prescriptions may help address stroke-related disparities among patients.

Researchers say extended antidepressant use creates physical dependence

Patients who have taken antidepressants for years should consider coming off the medication. However, researchers say they will likely face difficult and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms due to a physical dependence.

Three new coronavirus cases in Iran after two deaths

Iran has confirmed three new coronavirus cases following the deaths of two elderly men, the health ministry told AFP on Thursday, as Iraq banned travel to and from its neighbour.

Euthanasia's legal status in Europe

Euthanasia is legal in only three European countries while others allow terminally ill people to refuse life-maintaining treatment or to have help to die.

Amid protests, Portugal lawmakers vote to allow euthanasia

Portugal's parliament voted Thursday in favor of allowing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people.

Bundled payments have not led to 'cherry-picking' of patients for joint replacement surgery

A pilot program introducing bundled payments for hip and knee replacement (HKR) in Medicare patients hasn't led hospitals to "cherry-pick" healthier patients at lower risk of complications, reports a study in the February 19, 2020 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Lower dose of newer clot-buster may be appropriate for some stroke patients

New research confirms that the lower 0.25mg/kg dose of the clot-busting agent tenecteplase is appropriate for eligible stroke patients and can reduce the need for mechanical clot removal, according to late breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020.

Wearable brain stimulation could safely improve motor function after stroke

A non-invasive, wearable, magnetic brain stimulation device could improve motor function in stroke patients, according to preliminary late breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020.

Biology news

Study finds microbes can alter an environment dramatically before dying out

When a plant or animal species is introduced to a new environment with few natural predators, it can spread uncontrollably, transforming the ecosystem and crowding out existing populations. One well-known example is the cane toad, which was introduced into Australia in 1935 and whose population is now well into the millions.

Bumblebees can experience an object using one sense and later recognize it using another

How are we able to find things in the dark? And how can we imagine how something feels just by looking at it?

Microchannel network hydrogel-induced ischemic blood perfusion connection

Controlled angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels) at damaged sites is an unresolved issue in the clinical setting. Most attempts include local treatment with pro-angiogenic molecules,Jo although the approach can induce inflammatory coupling, tumorous vasculature activation and off-target circulation. Bioengineers predict that a three-dimensional (3-D) structure could guide desirable biological functions at the implant site, without any therapeutic treatment. In a new report on Nature Communications, Jung Bok Lee and a research team at the Departments of Medical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering in the U.S. and the Republic of Korea generated such microchannel networks in a gelatin hydrogel.

Watching TV helps birds make better food choices

By watching videos of each other eating, blue tits and great tits can learn to avoid foods that taste disgusting and are potentially toxic, a new study has found. Seeing the 'disgust response' in others helps them recognise distasteful prey by their conspicuous markings without having to taste them, and this can potentially increase both the birds' and their prey's survival rate.

First genetic evidence of resistance in some bats to white-nose syndrome, a devastating fungal disease

A new study from University of Michigan biologists presents the first genetic evidence of resistance in some bats to white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that has decimated some North American bat populations.

Cyanobacteria problems will worsen if carbon concentrations continue to rise

Scientists from the University of Amsterdam are warning that problems with toxic cyanobacteria are likely to increase in the future. In an article in the journal Science Advances, they show that a common cyanobacterium adapts exceptionally easily to rising CO2 concentrations. This toxic cyanobacterium can increase its CO2 uptake rate by a factor of five at high CO2 concentrations, the strongest response recorded thus far in any alga.

Scientists uncover a novel generic mechanism for the division of artificial cells into two daughter cells

The success of life on earth is based on the amazing ability of living cells to divide themselves into two daughter cells. During such a division process, the outer cell membrane has to undergo a series of morphological transformations that ultimately lead to membrane fission. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, and at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, have now achieved unprecedented control over these shape transformations and the resulting division process by anchoring low densities of proteins to the artificial cell membranes.

Artificial intelligence yields new antibiotic

Using a machine-learning algorithm, MIT researchers have identified a powerful new antibiotic compound. In laboratory tests, the drug killed many of the world's most problematic disease-causing bacteria, including some strains that are resistant to all known antibiotics. It also cleared infections in two different mouse models.

More clues for how the monkeyflower got its spots

The monkeyflower, or Mimulus, though possessing a relatively simple genome is able to produce a stunning array of pigmentation patterns. A team of researchers is one step closer to understanding exactly how this genus of wildflowers is able to achieve such remarkable diversity, their work will be published Thursday in Current Biology.

Let there be 'circadian' light: New study describes science behind best lights to affect sleep, mood and learning

Researchers at UW Medicine have decoded what makes good lighting—lighting capable of stimulating the cone photoreceptor inputs to specific neurons in the eye that regulate circadian rhythms.

I'll scratch yours if you scratch mine: How rats help each other out

Rats are happy to help each other out, but only if another rat helps them out first, according to new research from the University of St Andrews and the University of Bern, Switzerland.

High frequency of unwanted duplications in CRISPR-Cas9 edits

A team of researchers working at the University of Münster has found a high frequency of unwanted duplications during routine CRISPR-Cas9 genetic insertions in mice. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes how they uncovered the unwanted duplications and give a warning to other researchers.

Tadpoles create their own air bubbles to breathe

A pair of researchers at the University of Connecticut, has found that hatchling tadpoles create their own air bubbles in order to breathe. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Kurt Schwenk and Jackson Phillips describe their study of tadpoles in a tank of water and what they learned about them.

Curing genetic disease in human cells

While the genome editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, developed in 2012, cuts a mutation out of a gene and replaces it with a gene-piece, a newer type of CRISPR, called base-editing, can repair a mutation without cutting the DNA. Therefore, genome editing using base-editor is considered safer. Scientists from the research groups of Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute) and Jeffrey Beekman (UMC Utrecht) show for the first time that this base-editing can safely cure cystic fibrosis in stem cells derived from patients. The results of this study were published in Cell Stem Cell on the 20th of February.

Social networks reveal dating in blue tits

Winter associations predict social and extra-pair mating patterns in blue tits. Researchers of the Max Planck Institutes for Ornithology in Seewiesen and for Animal Behavior in Radolfzell show in their new study that blue tits that often foraged together during winter were more likely to end up as breeding pairs or as extra-pair partners, whereby bonds between future breeding partners seem to establish earlier in winter than those between future extra-pair partners.

Research team tackles superbug infections with novel therapy

There may be a solution on the horizon to combating superbug infections resistant to antibiotics. The tenacious bacteria and fungi sicken more than 2.8 million people and lead to more than 35,000 deaths in the United States each year.

DNA from ancient packrat nests helps unpack Earth's past

New work shows how using next-generation DNA sequencing on ancient packrat middens—nests made out of plant material, fragments of insects, bones, fecal matter, and urine—could provide ecological snapshots of Earth's past. Published today in the journal Ecology and Evolution, the study may pave the way for scientists to better understand how plant communities—and possibly animals, bacteria, and fungi as well—will respond to human-caused climate change.

Exploring a genome's 3-D organization through a social network lens

Computational biologists at Carnegie Mellon University have taken an algorithm used to study social networks, such as Facebook communities, and adapted it to identify how DNA and proteins are interconnected into communities within the cell nucleus.

A scaffold at the center of our cellular skeleton

All animal cells have an organelle called a centrosome, which is essential to the organization of their cell skeleton. The centrosome plays fundamental roles, especially during cell division, where it allows equal sharing of genetic information between two daughter cells. When the cells stop dividing, the centrioles, cylindrical structures composed of microtubules at the base of the centrosome, migrate to the plasma membrane and allow the formation of primary and mobile cilia, which are used respectively for the transfer of information and the genesis of movement. While performing these crucial biological functions, centrioles are therefore subjected to many physical forces, which they must resist. Scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have discovered an internal structure at the center of these nano-cylinders, a real cellular scaffolding that maintains the physical integrity of this organelle. This study, published in the journal Science Advances, will provide a better understanding of the functions of the centriole and the pathologies associated with its dysfunction.

Fifty years of data show new changes in bird migration

A growing body of research shows that birds' spring migration has been getting earlier and earlier in recent decades. New research from The Auk: Ornithological Advances on Black-throated Blue Warblers, a common songbird that migrates from Canada and the eastern U.S. to Central America and back every year, uses fifty years of bird-banding data to add another piece to the puzzle, showing that little-studied fall migration patterns have been shifting over time as well.

What makes dogs so special? Science says love

The idea that animals can experience love was once anathema to the psychologists who studied them, seen as a case of putting sentimentality before scientific rigor.

Nearly 900,000 pangolins trafficked in Southeast Asia: watchdog

Nearly 900,000 pangolins are believed to have been trafficked across Southeast Asia in the past two decades, a wildlife watchdog said Thursday, highlighting the challenge in tackling the illicit trade.

Himalayan wolf discovered to be a unique wolf adapted to harsh high altitude life

The Himalayan wolf is considered an ancient wolf as it evolved prior to the contemporary grey wolf which is found in large parts of North America and Eurasia. Very little is known about the Himalayan wolf, because science and conservation have overlooked these high-altitude wolves as just another grey wolf until recently. As a result, very little research had been conducted on this wolf and no conservation action has been in place, risking a silent population decline of this wolf. This research, published today in the Journal of Biogeography, reveals this wolf's evolutionary uniqueness based on many different genetic markers; including a genetic adaptation to cope with the high-altitude environment, which is an adaptation that is not found in any other wolf. The Himalayan wolf is a top carnivore in the Asian high-altitudes, which hold some of the last intact large wilderness areas on our planet. The protection of the Himalayan wolves is critical to preserve these ecosystems given that top carnivores are key to keep an ecosystem healthy and balanced. This becomes even more relevant when considering that the Asian high-altitudes hold the water resources for billions of people in south-east Asia and it is of global interest to keep those ecosystems and their wildlife populations healthy.

Following sea trout minute by minute

Sea trout populations have declined sharply. Researchers have studied the life of sea trout by means of acoustic telemetry tags and listening stations. Now they know more about what we need to do to protect the sea trout population.

Over 100 eucalypt tree species newly recommended for threatened listing

The Threatened Species Recovery Hub has undertaken a conservation assessment of every Australian eucalypt tree species and found that over 190 species meet internationally recognised criteria for listing as threatened: most of these are not currently listed as threatened.

Revealed: Protein 'spike' lets the 2019-nCoV coronavirus pierce, invade human cells

Researchers in the United States have unveiled the structure of the "spike protein" of 2019-nCoV—the virus behind the current coronavirus disease outbreak.

Sharp decrease in sparrows caused by use of artificial grass in city parks

Researchers at the Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology of the University of Valencia as well as the University of Alicante have found a new reason for the decrease in the number of sparrows (Passer domesticus) in urban areas: the replacement of natural grass with artificial grass in parks. They have verified that in four years, the number of sparrows has decreased by 60%.

Logistics of self-assembly processes

The efficient self-assembly of functional protein complexes is a major goal of industrial biotechnology. A new LMU study shows that the productivity of such processes crucially depends on tight regulation of the supply of components.

Shark may avoid cold blood by holding its breath on deep dives

Scalloped hammerhead sharks stay warm as they descend into cold, deep water off the coast of Hawaii, suggesting the cold-blooded species may maintain its body temperature on dives by holding its breath, according to new research presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 in San Diego, California.

Plant protein helps control powerhouse of plant cell

A new Michigan State University study shows how a protein, called peroxiredoxin Q, or PRXQ, connects two biochemical pathways that are vital for plant chloroplast health.

Veterinary behavior expert demystifyies feline behavior

They know their names. We can read their facial expressions, sort of. And some of them really like having us around. These are among the purported findings of recent scientific studies aimed at deciphering the behavior of some of our most mysterious yet ubiquitous companions: pet cats.

Record number of wild baby Siamese crocodiles spotted in Cambodian hotspot

Ten baby Siamese crocodiles have been spotted in the wild in Cambodia, a sure sign that conservation efforts are having a real impact on a species once believed to be extinct in the wild.

Into watching horseshoe crabs have sex? Florida needs your help

Arthropod passions will soar along Florida's coastal waters in March and April as we reach peak mating season for horseshoe crabs.

New climate model projects major impact on coral, important fish habitats

A new model has projected that current trends in climate change could place over 50% of North Atlantic cold-water coral habitat at risk, while suitable habitats for commercially important deep-sea fish could shift by up to 1000 km northwards. These effects could have far-reaching impacts on the ocean, including significant loss of suitable habitats for deep-sea species, which will in turn affect economies and communities reliant on fish stocks.

Researchers start to understand blood vessels one cell at the time

Surprising new knowledge on endothelial cells in a dozen different murine tissues is now available in an open access, user-friendly, database for professionals. This is the result of a new ground-breaking research study, published in the journal Cell: a study that may help to explain why there are, for instance, more severe graft rejections of lung transplants compared to other organs.

Citizen scientists discover a new snail, name it after Greta Thunberg

A new to science species of land snail was discovered by a group of citizen scientists working together with scientists from Taxon Expeditions, a company that organises scientific field trips for teams consisting of both scientists and laypeople. Having conducted a vote on how to name the species, the expedition participants and the local staff of the National Park together decided to name the mollusc Craspedotropis gretathunbergae. The species name honours the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg for her efforts to raise awareness about climate change. The study is published in the open access journal Biodiversity Data Journal.

Study shows how dogs can benefit from scented toys

The welfare of dogs in kennels and rehoming centres may be improved if they're able to play with scented toys, according to new research by a team that included Hartpury University's Ben Brilot.

Pacific marine national monuments do not harm fishing industry

New scientific findings released today in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications, show that expansion Aof the Pacific Remote Islands and Papahanaumokuakea marine national monuments did not cause overall economic harm to the Hawaii-based longline tuna fishing fleet.

How to keep the nucleus clean

Cells are small factories that constantly produce protein and RNA molecules by decoding the genetic information stored in the DNA of their chromosomes. The first phase of this decoding, the transcription process, 'transcribes' the DNA code into RNA molecules. In humans, and most other organisms, all cells of the body carry the full genetic information of the entire organism, with each individual cell requiring only a small subset of its DNA decoded. Even so, the first decoding phase (transcription) is pervasive and produces a large amount of surplus RNAs.

Earthquakes disrupt sperm whales' ability to find food, study finds

Otago scientists studying sperm whales off the coast of Kaikōura have discovered earthquakes affect their ability to find food for at least a year.

A better pregnancy test for whales

It's not easy to do pregnancy tests on whales. You can't just ask a wild ocean animal that's the size of a school bus to pee on a little stick. For decades, the only way scientists could count pregnant females was by sight and best guesses based on visual characteristics. For the last several years, researchers have relied on hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive (not negative or positive), and researchers couldn't confidently say if the animal was pregnant or just ovulating.

Plants can detect insect attacks by 'sniffing' each other's aromas

Fragrant aromas from plants can actually be a response to attacks by insects, and can alert neighbours to an attack or summon the insects' predators. Now, scientists are deciphering these secret codes to develop better, greener chemicals to defend crops against herbivorous insects.


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