Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Nov 30

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The all-new 2016 Multiphysics Simulation magazine is here. See how engineers are using simulation for design and innovation. View online or download here:

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 30, 2016:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

New process makes hydrogels useful for more applications

Modeling offers new perspective on how Pluto's 'icy heart' came to be

Team combines quantum physics and photosynthesis to make discovery that could lead to highly efficient solar cells

Mobbing mongooses get by with a little help from their friends

Learning makes animals intelligent

Study explains evolution phenomenon that puzzled Darwin

Lack of sleep costing US economy up to $411 billion per year

Online epidemic tracking tool embraces open data and collective intelligence

A method for storing vaccines at room temperature

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator

Brain training video games help low-vision kids see better

Zika in fetal brain tissue responds to a popular antibiotic

Gram-negative bacteria may influence Alzheimer's disease pathology

When and why do children give others the bigger piece of the pie?

Researchers find evidence of original 1620 Plymouth settlement

Astronomy & Space news

Modeling offers new perspective on how Pluto's 'icy heart' came to be

Pluto's "icy heart" is a bright, two-lobed feature on its surface that has attracted researchers ever since its discovery by the NASA New Horizons team in 2015. Of particular interest is the heart's western lobe, informally named Sputnik Planitia, a deep basin containing three kinds of ices—frozen nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide—and appearing opposite Charon, Pluto's tidally locked moon. Sputnik Planitia's unique attributes have spurred a number of scenarios for its formation, all of which identify the feature as an impact basin, a depression created by a smaller body striking Pluto at extremely high speed.

First signs of weird quantum property of empty space?

By studying the light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetized neutron star using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarization of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence.

Data from ISS Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer suggests possibility of unknown source of positrons

(—A team of researchers known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) Collaboration has found evidence of a possible unknown source of positrons making their way through the universe to Earth. In their paper published in Physical Review Letters, the team offers a report on cosmic ray strikes that have been reported by the AMS aboard the International Space Station and why they believe the data suggests that some of the recorded strikes could not be attributed to primary cosmic rays colliding with gas atoms in space.

Smallest known asteroid characterized using Earth-based telescopes

Astronomers have obtained observations of the smallest asteroid ever characterized in detail. At 2 meters (6 feet) in diameter, the tiny space rock is small enough to be straddled by a person in a hypothetical space-themed sequel to the iconic bomb-riding scene in the movie "Dr. Strangelove."

NASA spacecraft embarks on ring-skimming mission at Saturn

Consider it a cosmic carousel with countless rings up for grabs.

'Thank the aliens': Thousands displaced for China's huge telescope

Humanity's best bet at detecting aliens is a giant silver Chinese dish the size of 30 football fields—one that simultaneously showcases Beijing's abilities to deploy cutting-edge technologies and ignore objectors' rights as it seeks global prominence.

Image: The Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System for astronauts

The Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, or MARES for short, is a three-in-one muscle-measurement machine on the International Space Station to monitor astronauts' muscles as they work out.

NASA radio on Europe's new Mars Orbiter aces relay test

Data from each of the two rovers active on Mars reached Earth last week in the successful first relay test of a NASA radio aboard Europe's new Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).

Image: Saturn's icy moon Mimas

Saturn's icy moon Mimas is dwarfed by the planet's enormous rings.

Image: Fiery south Atlantic sunset

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed a sunset that looks like a vast sheet of flame. With Earth's surface already in darkness, the setting sun, the cloud masses, and the sideways viewing angle make a powerful image of the kind that astronauts use to commemorate their flights.

Technology news

Android malware steals million Google accounts: researchers

Malicious software designed to attack Android smartphones has breached the accounts of more than a million Google users, security researchers said Wednesday.

Sun setting on Japan's solar energy boom

The sun is setting on Japan's clean-energy boom, despite projects like a massive floating solar farm near Tokyo, as the government cuts subsidies and bets on nuclear and coal-fired power, critics say.

Low-cost technology to better provide drinking water in developing countries

A Purdue-affiliated startup has developed a low-cost, low-maintenance slow sand water filter technology to better provide clean and safe drinking water to schools and communities in developing countries around the world.

EU police agency blames human error for data security breach

European Union police agency Europol on Wednesday blamed human error for a breach of its data security rules by a former staff member that reportedly led to dossiers containing information about terrorism investigations becoming visible online.

Study examines effect of privacy controls on Facebook behavior

Despite the widespread popularity of online social network platforms, privacy remains a troublesome issue. A new study from the Naveen Jindal School of Management assesses the impact of Facebook's granular privacy controls and its effects on user disclosure behavior.

Colombia plane crash—how can people survive deadly air disasters?

A plane crash in Colombia has killed at least 75 people including most of one of Brazil's top football teams, leaving just six survivors. While the investigation may take some time to reveal the factors behind the accident, the distressingly high – but not total – number of fatalities raises the question of how some people are able to survive such a devastating disaster.

3-D printed operational drone with embedded electronics using aerospace-grade material

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have 3-D printed a ready-to-fly drone with embedded electronics using aerospace-grade material.

EU unveils plans to boost 'clean energy' use

The EU on Wednesday unveiled "clean energy" plans to boost renewable use, cut waste and reduce subsidies for coal power in a bid to meet its commitments to the Paris climate deal.

Ohio to invest $15M on 35-mile self-driving truck test

Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) says the state will invest $15 million to support research in self-driving highway technology along a 35-mile stretch of an Ohio road.

Throwing new light on printed organic solar cells

Researchers at the University of Surrey have achieved record power conversion efficiencies for large area organic solar cells. In recent years scientists have been attempting to increase the efficiency of these cells to allow commercial applications such as integration into a building's glass façade, generating electricity to power the building. 

Speed warning system saves lives and reduces emissions

Universal adoption of the ISA speed warning system in Norway could reduce both the average speed of vehicles and their emissions, concludes a recent SINTEF report. Lower speeds also lead to fewer fatalities and serious injuries on the roads.

Big data analytics—Nostradamus of the 21st century

With much of the debate as to whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would win the election taking place online, people blogging, tweeting or updating social media with their thoughts on the topic provided data researchers with a rich source of information about what people were thinking and feeling about the election race.

Binge watching on Netflix no longer requires internet access (Update)

Netflix subscribers can now binge on many of their favorite shows and movies even when they don't have an internet connection.

Researchers tackle challenge of communicating with test flights using weaker frequencies

Imagine this engineering headache: Using a wireless transmitter, you need to send 40 megabytes of data every single second (about the same amount of data as 10 YouTube videos streaming at the same time) over a distance of 100 miles. To complicate matters, one of the transmitters can't be bigger than a pack of chewing gum. Oh, and it's going to be traveling onboard an object 30,000 feet overhead at double the speed of sound.

Team finds new method to improve predictions

Researchers at Princeton, Columbia and Harvard have created a new method to analyze big data that better predicts outcomes in health care, politics and other fields.

GoPro cuts staff, shifts focus

Mini-camera maker GoPro announced plans Wednesday to cut 15 percent of its staff as its shifts its focus to its core manufacturing operations.

Wacky gifts for the tech-savvy person who has everything

The latest technology can make for an easy holiday gift, but when it comes to the ultra-tech-savvy people in your life, finding a cool gadget they don't already own can be tough.

EPA to keep strict gas mileage standards in place

The Obama administration has decided not to change government fuel economy requirements for cars and light trucks despite protests from automakers.

New mini robot sub unveiled at the National Oceanography Centre

The first robotic microsub capable of being deployed from a robotic boat was unveiled at the Marine Autonomous and Technology Annual Showcase this November, at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

Enabling the offshore wind supergrid

In 2010, world leading companies in offshore wind came together to form 'The Friends of the Supergrid'—an association that advocates for an efficient, interconnected and resilient electricity grid to complement existing national transmission infrastructure. The MEDOW project is playing its part by advancing research on multi-terminal DC grids, which are considered as the key technology to connect offshore wind farms to this supergrid.

IBM unveils Watson-powered imaging solutions for healthcare providers

IBM today announced at the Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA 2016) it will preview new imaging solutions from Watson Health and Merge Healthcare (Merge; an IBM Company) designed to help healthcare providers pursue personalized approaches to patient diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. The solutions benefit from more than a decade of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) work conducted in IBM Research. Further, IBM Research has partnered with the Radiological Society to debut a live demonstration of how Watson understands, reasons and learns from imaging information.

The surprising technology behind the future of autonomous driving

As autonomous driving (AD) technology brings new advances and features to mobility, important questions inevitably arise. For example, how will drivers come to trust their autonomous vehicles? How will vehicles communicate with drivers and alert them to the presence of other vehicles on the road? And, what actions will vehicles take after identifying objects, signs and other road infrastructure such as painted lanes?

Data-driven maintenance in the industry leads to cost savings

Smarter strategies for maintenance in the industry, using data from components, can reduce costs by 20-40 percent and make new forms of business possible, according to new research from Linnaeus University, Chalmers and SICS.

UT Dallas WindSTAR team works to improve the energy of air

For three consecutive years, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UT Dallas has received funding from the National Science Foundation to support a center that, in partnership with industry, conducts research to increase the amount of energy the nation gets from wind.

Chrysler minivan gets 84 mpg equivalent in electric mode

Fiat Chrysler says its new gas-electric hybrid minivan will get the equivalent of 84 miles per gallon in electric mode and 32 mpg in city-highway mileage when in hybrid mode.

Medicine & Health news

Lack of sleep costing US economy up to $411 billion per year

A lack of sleep among the U.S. working population is costing the economy up to $411 billion a year, which is 2.28 percent of the country's GDP, a new report finds.

Online epidemic tracking tool embraces open data and collective intelligence

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Imperial College London have developed Microreact, a free, real-time epidemic visualisation and tracking platform that has been used to monitor outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and antibiotic-resistant microbes. The team have collaborated with the Microbiology Society to allow any researcher around the world to share their latest information about disease outbreaks. Details of the platform are published in the journal Microbial Genomics today.

Brain training video games help low-vision kids see better

A new study by vision scientists at the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University found that children with poor vision see vast improvement in their peripheral vision after only eight hours of training via kid-friendly video games. Most surprising to the scientists was the range of visual gains the children made, and that the gains were quickly acquired and stable when tested a year later.

Zika in fetal brain tissue responds to a popular antibiotic

Working in the lab, UC San Francisco researchers have identified fetal brain tissue cells that are targeted by the Zika virus and determined that azithromycin, a common antibiotic regarded as safe for use during pregnancy, can prevent the virus from infecting these cells.

Gram-negative bacteria may influence Alzheimer's disease pathology

For the first time, researchers have found higher levels of Gram-negative bacteria antigens in brain samples from late-onset Alzheimer's disease patients. Compared to controls, patients with Alzheimer's had much higher levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and E coli K99 pili protein. In addition, The UC Davis team also found LPS molecules congregated with amyloid plaques, which have been linked to Alzheimer's pathology and progression. The research was published today in the print edition of the journal Neurology.

When and why do children give others the bigger piece of the pie?

In one episode of Sesame Street, Ernie takes a bigger piece of pie for himself and gives a smaller piece to Bert. Bert responds, "That is not very polite. I mean, if I had two pieces of pie, I'd offer you the big piece and take the small one for myself." Confused, Ernie replies, "Well… you have the small piece, Bert."

Drug delivery modification sidesteps allergic responses

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have reconfigured a popular drug-delivery technology to evade immune responses that have halted some clinical trials.

Scientists identify unique genomic features in testicular cancer

Researchers led by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have identified unique genomic changes that may be integral to testicular cancer development and explain why the great majority are highly curable with chemotherapy - unlike most solid tumors.

New research provides key insight about mitochondrial replacement therapy

A new discovery may unlock the answer to a vexing scientific question: How to conduct mitochondrial replacement therapy, a new gene-therapy technique, in such a way that safely prevents the transmission of harmful mitochondrial gene mutations from mothers to their children.

New imaging method can detect, monitor and guide treatment for, prostate cancer

An international group of researchers report success in mice of a method of using positron emission tomography (PET) scans to track, in real time, an antibody targeting a hormone receptor pathway specifically involved in prostate cancer. This androgen receptor pathway drives development and progression of the vast majority of prostate cancers. The technique shows promise, the investigators say, as a novel way to use such an antibody to detect and monitor prostate and other hormone-sensitive cancers, as well as to guide therapy in real time.

Mending a broken heart: New advanced heart patch developed

Researchers have made a significant advance in heart attack research, with the development of a polymer patch which improves the conduction of electrical impulses across damaged heart tissue.

Quitting smoking at any age reduces the risk of death after 70

Tobacco use continues to be a major cause of cancer and premature death. Most studies of cigarette smoking and mortality have focused on middle-aged populations, with fewer studies examining the impact of tobacco cessation on disease and mortality risk among the elderly. A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that people aged 70 or older currently smoking were more than three times more likely to die than never-smokers, while former smokers were less likely to die the sooner they quit.

Potential new tool to aid breast cancer surgery (Update)

University of Adelaide researchers have developed an optical fiber probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue - potentially allowing surgeons to be much more precise when removing breast cancer.

Doctors should counsel even low-risk patients on heart health

(HealthDay)—Primary care doctors should offer counseling about healthy lifestyle habits to prevent heart disease—even to adults who have a low or average risk of developing heart troubles, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises.

Improved cognitive status seen following TAVR

(HealthDay)—Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is associated with global improvement in cognitive status, according to a study published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Creation of micro muscles aids better understanding of muscle efficiency

A biomedical research scientist is taking the lead in the creation of muscle cells and micro muscles to test muscle efficiency in the laboratory - and he is able to carry out this new and innovative work thanks to the support he has received to get him back into science after a career break.

Team releases gene edited human stem cell lines

The Allen Institute for Cell Science has released the Allen Cell Collection: the first publicly available collection of gene edited, fluorescently tagged human induced pluripotent stem cells that target key cellular structures with unprecedented clarity.

How do musician's brains work while playing?

When musicians play instruments, their brains are processing a huge amount and variety of information in parallel. Musical styles and strengths vary dramatically: Some musicians are better at sight reading music, while others are better at playing by ear. Does this mean that their brains are processing information differently?

Women are not affected by their menstrual cycle during exercise heat stress

Menstrual cycle phase does not affect a woman's autonomic heat responses (skin blood flow and sweating) at rest or during fixed intensity exercise.

Prohibiting sperm donor anonymity could reduce the number of donors

A new study published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences suggests that prohibiting anonymous sperm donation would result in a decline in the number of donors, and that those willing to donate would likely demand compensation for donation.

California hospitals take obesity fight to supermarkets

Enter a US supermarket and the dilemma is all-too common: Will what I buy be healthy? Fattening? A substitute? That's when many wish they had a specialist at their side.

Aerobic exercise preserves brain volume and improves cognitive function

Using a new MRI technique, researchers found that adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who exercised four times a week over a six-month period experienced an increase in brain volume in specific, or local, areas of the brain, but adults who participated in aerobic exercise experienced greater gains than those who just stretched. The study will be presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Untangling fibril formation and dissociation in Parkinson's disease

Prions are misfolded proteins. The complex three-dimensional structure of a prion's progenitor protein becomes altered, somehow causing it to malfunction. Worse, the malformation of these progenitor proteins into prions causes them to aggregate into amyloid plaques that can result in a disease state. Prions are responsible for protein-caused infectious neurodegenerative diseases like mad cow disease and scrapie in livestock.

Research suggests new possibility for treating aggressive ovarian cancer

A recent discovery by researchers from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) may lead to a new treatment strategy for an aggressive ovarian cancer subtype.

Student startup plans to offer app that can detect concussions

Brightlamp LLC, a Purdue student-based startup, is working to become the first company to offer a downloadable app for public use that can detect concussions in real time.

Where Latino teens learn about sex does matter

The U.S. teen pregnancy rate is at a historic low, with the number of teen births declining dramatically over the past decades.

Groundbreaking technique helping to pave the way for advances in personalized medicine

Imagine, one day in the future, you go into the pharmacy with a prescription from your doctor, you swipe your health card and a robot in the back provides you with the exact drug composition that will work for your body. No more trial and error with multiple drugs. No more experimenting with drug dosages.

Opinion: Good food policies – it's time we all got involved to get what we want

I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't notice. In the furore of Trumpagedon, a little publicised revolution was taking place in America: five cities in the US voted for sugary drinks taxes.

Need for best practice guidelines for counseling women who relinquish their parental rights

A new study by The University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work and The Donaldson Adoption Institute provides groundbreaking research on the experiences of first/birth parents and the need for best practices guidelines in options counseling for first/birth parents.

Research uncovers role of 'cancer bubbles' in deadly clotting

Chemotherapy stimulates the release of tiny bubbles from the surface of cancer cells that cause potentially fatal blood clots, new University of Otago research has found.

No need to wait to conceive after miscarriage

Women who get pregnant soon after a miscarriage are more likely to have a successful pregnancy than those who wait to conceive again.

Study points to possible treatment for a rare vascular disease

In individuals with a rare genetic disorder that affects blood vessels, arteries and veins develop abnormal connections, causing bleeding in the skin, nose, and other organs. In most cases, the condition—hereditary hemorraghic telangiectasia, or HHT—is due to mutations in two genes that regulate proteins in the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels. Treatment options are limited.

Researchers find evidence of shelved negative results in preclinical studies of anxiety

A systematic review of rodent studies of anxiety drug targets has found a possible reason for thwarted drug development in the field: researchers might not reveal all the data they collect.

DNA profiling technique could improve scientists' approach to fighting cancer drug resistance

A method for analyzing DNA in cells at a deeper level is set to give a clearer picture of the biology of tumors and could revolutionize the way they are treated.

Faster, non-invasive method to determine the severity of a heart failure

Methods currently employed to determine the severity of a heart failure are very limited. Researchers at TU/e and the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven have therefore developed a method that is very quick, non-invasive, cost-effective and can be performed at the hospital bedside. Moreover, this method appears to have a predictive value for whether or not a double pacemaker will be successful. Researchers Ingeborg Herold and Salvatore Saporito received their doctorates earlier this month for their study.

Sedentary lifestyle may impair academic performance in boys

A sedentary lifestyle is linked to poorer reading skills in the first three school years in 6-8 year old boys, according to a new study from Finland. The study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Cambridge was recently published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

Cartoons help children decide on participation in research

Children are often able to decide for themselves whether they want to take part in medical research. In order to be able to make an informed decision, they need clear information. PhD candidate Ronella Grootens set a good example and created a cartoon story. PhD defence 6 December.

New insights into skin cells could explain why skin doesn't leak

The discovery of the shape and binding capability of epidermal cells could explain how skin maintains a barrier even when it is shedding.

Young cancer survivors have twice the risk of suicide

Survivors of cancer diagnosed before the age of 25 had a more than two-fold increased risk of suicide compared to their non-cancer peers.

Study suggests prescribing of baclofen for alcohol dependence 'should be reconsidered'

The drug baclofen has received high visibility as a possible breakthrough treatment for alcohol dependence. Now a new randomised controlled trial from the University of Amsterdam found no evidence for the usefulness of high-dose baclofen in treating alcoholism when added to psychosocial treatments.

HIV expert's studies yielding insights into diseases of aging

While AIDS originally was seen as an adaptive immune disease, the research of Alan Landay, PhD, has contributed to a view of it as a cell driven-inflammation linked to immunosenescence—the gradual deterioration of the immune system that also accompanies normal aging.

Dopaminergic drugs cause changes in deep brain areas of Parkinson's patient

A drug like levodopa, which is used by patients with Parkinson's disease, causes changes in the communication between deep brain areas that are important for learning and behaviour. As a result of this, impulse control disorders such as gambling addiction or hypersexuality can occur. PhD researcher Payam Piray demonstrated this during research carried out at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen. He will defend his doctoral thesis on Thursday 1 December 2016. His research was funded with a grant from the NWO Free Competition.

Microbubbles and ultrasound open the blood-brain barrier to administer drugs

The impassable blood–brain barrier prevents microorganisms from entering the brain; however, it also blocks medicines that could help treat Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Now, a Spanish physicist and other researchers at the University of Columbia (USA) have succeeded in embedding these substances in tiny lipid bubbles in such a way that ultrasound can be used to release them into the specific area of the brain where they are needed.

What makes print more readable for the visually impaired?

The number of visually impaired people in Norway is high. The Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted estimates that 180,000 Norwegians have been diagnosed with an eye condition. Even more people have poor eyesight due to natural visual deterioration. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU)  Research Laboratory for Universal Design (the UU lab) have published the biggest readability study of printed text for the visually impaired evLr done in Norway.

At long last—stroke patients can be monitored at home, using a sensor suit

From now on it will be possible to accurately monitor and analyse how stroke patients move during everyday life. This involves the use of a new suit fitted with 41 sensors, plus the infrastructure needed to transmit, store and process all of the data collected. This technology and information will make it possible to improve the rehabilitation process and cut healthcare costs. Bart Klaassen developed the system together with an international team of engineers and healthcare professionals. He will defend his thesis (which is based on this research) on 30 November, at the University of Twente.

Is an agent used to treat psoriasis aimed at the wrong target?

The antibody ustekinumab is in use for treatment of psoriasis since 2009. It inhibits the underlying inflammation by neutralizing certain messengers of the immune system. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Technical University of Munich and the University of Zurich have now shown in 'Nature Communications' that one of these messengers could actually be helpful in battling the illness.

Researchers identify cause for lower-extremity overgrowths in obese patients

Morbidly obese individuals—those whose weight is more than double normal weight—are prone to overgrowths in their lower extremities that can lead to infections and other health-threatening complications. Little was previously known about the underlying causes of this condition, and conventional treatment has involved surgical removal of these overgrowths. However, a new study published online as an "article in press" ahead of print in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons has identified the underlying cause for these overgrowths, and the researchers recommend that weight loss, not a surgical procedure, be the preferred initial treatment for these patients.

Levels of total cholesterol, LDL-C, triglycerides continue to decline among US adults

In a study published online by JAMA Cardiology, Asher Rosinger, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Md., and colleagues examined whether earlier trends of a decline (between 1999 and 2010) in average levels of total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides, and low­ density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) continued.

Web-based help for insomnia shows promise

(HealthDay)—People find help for all sorts of maladies online. Now, insomnia might be one of them.

Students make $750 drug cheaply with Open Source Malaria team

Sydney Grammar students, under the supervision of the University of Sydney and global members of the Open Source Malaria consortium, have reproduced an essential medicine in their high school laboratories.

Use of frailty screening initiative before surgery associated with reduced risk of death

In a study published online by JAMA Surgery, Daniel E. Hall, M.D., M.Div., M.H.Sc., of the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System and University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues examined the effect of a Frailty Screening Initiative (FSI) on death and complications by comparing the surgical outcomes of patients treated before and after implementation of the FSI.

We like what experts like—and what is expensive

Whether Peter Paul Rubens or Damien Hirst – the personal taste of art can be argued. Scientists from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Vienna have now shown that the individual taste of art is also dependent on social factors. The personal valuation of art was influenced by who else liked the work - or not. And even the value of a painting strengthened the subjective feeling of how much a work of art appeals to us. The study was recently published in the international journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts.

Zika and glaucoma linked for first time in new study

A team of researchers in Brazil and at the Yale School of Public Health has published the first report demonstrating that the Zika virus can cause glaucoma in infants who were exposed to the virus during gestation.

Elusive receptor for progranulin found

Progranulin is produced and secreted by most cells in the body. From skin to immune cells, brain to bone marrow cells, progranulin plays a key role in maintaining normal cellular function. In cancer, too much progranulin makes tumors (particularly prostate carcinomas) more aggressive and metastatic, whereas in neurodegenerative diseases, too little is associated with disease onset and progression. Until now, studying progranulin has been tricky as the receptor that communicates biological information to the cell's signaling machinery has remained elusive for decades. Now, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center discovered a cell-surface receptor highly expressed by cancerous and brain cells that directly and tightly binds progranulin. Importantly, the researchers also showed that this binding activates a cellular program that makes cancer cells more aggressive.

Benefits of daily aspirin outweigh risk to stomach: study

Stomach bleeds caused by aspirin are considerably less serious than the spontaneous bleeds that can occur in people not taking the drug, concludes a study led by Cardiff University.

Vapors from some flavored e-liquids contain high levels of aldehydes

Traditional cigarettes pose a well-established risk to smokers' health, but the effects of electronic cigarettes are still being determined. Helping to flesh out this picture, researchers are reporting in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology what happens to e-liquid flavorings when they're heated inside e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine-delivery systems. The study found that when converted into a vapor, some flavorings break down into toxic compounds at levels that exceed occupational safety standards.

Flu forecasts successful on neighborhood level

Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health developed a computer model to predict the onset, duration, and magnitude of influenza outbreaks for New York City boroughs and neighborhoods. They found the model effective in a test using data from 2008-2013; results appear in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.

A safer supper: Study finds recipes with hand-washing, temperature reminders improve food safety

Kansas State University researchers have discovered the secret ingredient to improving kitchen food safety: include hand-washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes.

New function of a signal path known from blood pressure research discovered

The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) plays an important role in regulating the body's fluid levels and blood pressure. However, a new signal path in the RAS may also have a substantial influence on immune cells, as a recent study conducted by researchers at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in collaboration with colleagues at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf found. Their findings have been published in the renowned journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Tai Chi proves feasible and beneficial for vets with PTSD

Veterans with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who participated in in Tai Chi not only would recommend it to a friend, but also found the ancient Chinese tradition helped with their symptoms including managing intrusive thoughts, difficulties with concentration and physiological arousal.

Scientists use CRISPR for first time to correct clotting in newborn and adult mice

CRISPR/Cas9, a powerful genome editing tool, is showing promise for efficient correction of disease-causing mutations. For the first time, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a dual gene therapy approach to deliver key components of a CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene targeting system to mice to treat hemophilia B. This disorder is also called factor IX deficiency and is caused by a missing or defective clotting protein. Their research will be presented during the 58th Annual American Society of Hematology Meeting and Exposition in San Diego from December 3-6 (Abstract #1174).

Feeling bad has academic benefits, research says

For some, the start of December marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. But for most university students, the coming weeks mean final exams, mounting stress and negative moods.

Preschoolers' expectations shape how they interpret speech

When we listen to people speak, we aren't just hearing the sounds they're making, we're also actively trying to infer what they're going to say. Someone might misspeak, forget a word, or be drowned out by background noise, and yet we often get their meaning anyway. This is because we use our past experience with language to hear what we expect them to say. Adults tend to manage this kind of "noisy channel" communication fairly easily, but new findings suggest 4- and 5-year-old children show the same adaptive ability.

I get by with help from my friends: Maintaining immune cells in head and neck cancer

In an article published September 22, 2016 in Frontiers in Immunology, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center report that inhibiting prostaglandin production slows the progression of premalignant lesions to head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Preclinical studies showed that treatment of premalignant lesions with indomethacin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) similar to aspirin, increased the presence of immune cells and lessened tumor burden.

Aspirin regimen for older adults has long-term benefits

For older Americans with a high risk of heart disease, taking low-dose aspirin every day could reduce their risk of a heart attack, prevent some cancers and cancer death, extend their lives and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients over the course of 20 years, according to a new USC study.

Gluten-free diet may not reduce intestinal damage in all children with celiac disease

In surprising findings, researchers from MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and Boston Children's Hospital (BCH) have discovered that nearly one in five children with celiac disease sustained persistent intestinal damage, despite strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. The findings are consistent with recent research in adults, which showed that more than 33 percent of adult patients on a gluten-free diet have persistent intestinal damage, despite a reduction of symptoms or the results of blood tests.

Study shows thinning of brain tissue remains in college football players

A growing body of research continues to raise concerns about the effects of head trauma sustained while participating in popular contact sports, particularly football. But this may not be confined to professional players only. A new study from researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, show that even college-level players may be vulnerable to the effects of head trauma, and that even several years after graduation, college football players continue to show evidence of neuropathic brain changes. The findings were published online in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

Philip Morris looking towards cigarette phase-out

Tobacco giant Philip Morris is aiming to stop selling conventional cigarettes and replace them with a less harmful product, its chief executive said Wednesday.

UK experts give green light to 'three-parent babies'

British scientists on Wednesday approved the use of so-called "three-parent baby" fertility treatments, paving the way for the country to become the first in the world to officially introduce the procedures.

Standing up may unmask cognitive deficits in patients with Parkinson's

In a new study published online today in the journal Neurology, a research team led by neurologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and neuropsychologists at Boston University has shown that when patients with Parkinson's disease experience a drop in blood pressure upon standing up - a condition known as orthostatic hypotension (OH) - they exhibit significant cognitive deficits. These deficits reverse when they lie down and their blood pressure returns to normal.

Vitamin D status in newborns and risk of MS in later life

Babies born with low levels of vitamin D may be more likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life than babies with higher levels of vitamin D, according to a study published in the November 30, 2016, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Fewer Americans struggle with medical bills: report

(HealthDay)—Fewer Americans are struggling to pay medical bills now than five years ago, a new government report shows.

Having trouble hearing? Maybe it's not your ears

(HealthDay)—Seniors who struggle to make out what people are saying around the dinner table or on a noisy street may have perfectly "normal" hearing. The problem could actually be in the brain, a new study suggests.

Use of needle exchange programs up dramatically in 10 years: CDC

(HealthDay)—Although there was a significant increase in the use of syringe services programs (SSPs)—more commonly known as needle exchange programs—across the United States over the past decade, many injection drug users don't always use sterile needles, a federal government report says.

Preemies often receive gastroesophageal reflux meds

(HealthDay)—Thirty-seven percent of premature infants receive gastroesophageal reflux (GER) medications, with more than three-quarters initiating medication use after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), according to a study published online Nov. 23 in Pediatrics.

NIAAA two-question alcohol screen valid in pediatric ERs

(HealthDay)—The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) two-question alcohol screen is valid for use within pediatric emergency departments (PEDs), according to a study published online Nov. 29 in Pediatrics.

Meta-analysis: statins cut risk of advanced colorectal adenoma

(HealthDay)—Statins seem not to be associated with the risk of colorectal adenoma, but are associated with reduced risk of advanced adenoma, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Nov. 23 in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Interrupting sitting time improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes

A new study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]) suggests that a 'Sit Less' intervention ? breaking sitting with standing and light-intensity walking ? may be an alternative to structured exercise to promote blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes, giving improved 24-hour glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity.

Increased risk of blood clots soon after starting testosterone treatment

Starting testosterone treatment is associated with an increased risk of serious blood clots (known as venous thromboembolism or VTE) that peaks within six months and declines gradually thereafter, concludes a study in The BMJ today.

Risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes affected by PCSK9 and HMGCR genetic variations

In a new study published in the December 1, 2016 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and a collaboration of international researchers, studied variants in the genes encoding HMGCR (the target of statins) and PCSK9 (the target of PCSK9 inhibitors) that affect cholesterol levels, and found that variants that lowered LDL (or "bad") cholesterol in each gene were associated with nearly identical protective effects on the risk of cardiovascular events per unit reduction in LDL cholesterol.

Researcher develops mouse model for studying development of visual cortex

A day by day log of cortical electric activity in the mouse visual cortex was published in the Journal of Neuroscience by George Washington University (GW) researcher Matthew Colonnese, Ph.D. This research is the first to establish a mouse model for human fetal electrographic development. The mouse is an important preclinical model of disease and development; and Colonnese's model will give key information for understanding cortical circuit development in humans.

Combination of new drug, CB-839, with everolimus stops advanced kidney tumors growing

Munich, Germany: The first drug to target a key enzyme that cancer cells need to keep them alive has shown that it is effective in controlling disease in patients with advanced kidney cancer when it is used in combination with another anti-cancer drug, everolimus.

New guidelines for the investigation of sudden unexpected death in infancy launched

National guidance for professionals handling cases of sudden unexpected child death which draws upon University of Warwick expertise are published today (30 November 2016).

Child resuscitation under scrutiny

A new study to assess how surf lifeguards are doing with child resuscitation skills is underway in the north this summer.

Early marriage and pregnancy risk for adolescent Syrian refugees

Education and counselling are key to improving the lives of Syrian girls in Jordanian refugee camps, according to a new study. Writing in the journal Pathogens and Global Health, three current and former experts at the United Nations Population Fund outline the dire situation in which many young women in the Zaatari Camp find themselves. The Syrian crisis has left almost five million women of reproductive age without adequate sexual and reproductive health education.

Program teaches women to make lifestyle changes

"I know you're all not eating that bread on your plate," Robin Pratts, MHA, jokes to a room of women. Laughter fills the room.

Gaming for agricultural safety

Family farming differs from other professions because people in this field both work and live in the same location. This means the risk of injury in the workplace is higher than usual; you never leave the workplace. Agriculture ranks among the most dangerous industries, with an estimated annual cost of agricultural injuries exceeding $4.5 billion. Researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Education, in partnership with the Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, began research to see how a video game can be used to educate young farmers.

Innovative HIV self-testing study empowers young women in rural South Africa

A Public Health research unit at Wits University is leading a study that enables young women in rural South Africa to test themselves for HIV.

Even mildly excessive body iron stores increase the risk of type 2 diabetes

Even mildly elevated body iron contributes to the prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes, according to research from the University of Eastern Finland. Excess body iron accumulation is a known risk factor of type 2 diabetes in hereditary hemochromatosis, but the results presented by Dr Alex O. Aregbesola in his doctoral thesis show that elevated iron is a risk factor in the general population as well, already at high levels within the normal range.

Inflammatory complications of immunodeficiency disease may benefit from imaging technique

A new proof of concept study has shown that an imaging technique more commonly used to assess cancer patients may also be of help in assessing disease and treatment effects in patients with inflammatory diseases. The study is published in Clinical & Experimental Immunology.

Corneal collagen cross-linking for keratoconus: Now data provide hint of benefit

In patients with keratoconus the cornea of the eye begins to bulge. So-called corneal collagen cross-linking aims to halt this process. In this procedure, the cornea is stiffened through locally applied vitamin B2 in combination with UVA radiation. The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) investigated what advantages or disadvantages this procedure can have for patients and published its final report on 15 November.

Lawsuits challenge abortion restrictions in 3 states

Taking the offensive after Election Day setbacks, Planned Parenthood and its allies filed lawsuits Wednesday in North Carolina, Missouri and Alaska challenging laws that they view as unconstitutional restrictions on abortion.

New federal rule bans smoking in public housing

Smoking will be prohibited in public housing developments nationwide under a final rule announced Wednesday by the Obama administration.

The tax man cometh: California ponders legal pot, paying up

California's legal marijuana industry is expected to involve everything from backyard growers to sprawling fields in the farm belt, storefront sellers along rural roads to chain-store like outlets in Los Angeles.

Biology news

Mobbing mongooses get by with a little help from their friends

In their notorious battles with snakes, dwarf mongooses are more likely to help attack the enemy if they are closely bonded to the individual raising the alarm, reports new experimental research from scientists at the University of Bristol.

Learning makes animals intelligent

The fact that animals can use tools, have self-control and certain expectations of life can be explained with the help of a new learning model for animal behaviour. Researchers at Stockholm University and Brooklyn College have combined knowledge from the fields of artificial intelligence, ethology and the psychology of learning to solve several problems concerning the behaviour and intelligence of animals.

Study explains evolution phenomenon that puzzled Darwin

Why do some animals have extravagant, showy ornaments—think elk and deer antlers, peacock feathers and horns on dung beetles—that can be a liability to survival? Charles Darwin couldn't figure it out, but now a Northwestern University research team has a possible explanation for this puzzling phenomenon of evolution.

Giant rays shown to be predators of the deep

Research revealing that giant manta rays are deep-sea predators is likely to be critical to efforts to protect the species.

Production and shedding of tissues in sponges found to be slower than believed

(—A pair of researchers with the University of Alberta in Canada has found that shedding and production of new tissue in sponges is much more complicated and slower than has been thought. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the researchers describe their multi-year study of sponges, what they found and what their findings might mean for future ocean management.

Intensification of land use leads to the same species everywhere

In places where humans use grasslands more intensively, it is not only the species diversity which decreases—the landscape also becomes more monotonous, and ultimately only the same species remain everywhere. This results in nature no longer being able to provide its 'services', which range from soil formation for food production to pest control. Led by the Technical University of Munich (TUM), 300 scientists studied the consequences of land-use intensification across different species groups at the landscape level for the very first time.

Virus-inspired delivery system transfers microscopic cargo between human cells

Scientists from the University of Utah and University of Washington have developed blueprints that instruct human cells to assemble a virus-like delivery system that can transport custom cargo from one cell to another. As reported online in Nature on Nov. 30, the research is a step toward a nature-inspired means for delivering therapeutics directly to specific cell types within the body.

Study reveals key role of mRNA's 'fifth nucleotide' in determining sex in fruit flies

A team of scientists led by the University of Birmingham has shown how a common mRNA modification, N6-methyladenosine (m6A), regulates gene expression to determine the sex of fruit flies.

Using sound to stop destructive beetles in their tracks

What would the paradise of Hawaii be without swaying coconut palms, with succulent fruit that is almost synonymous with the tropical island? Unfortunately, that may be the future of the island unless scientists find some way to stop the destructive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle which feeds on the coconut palms, stripping them of their leaves and decimating the vegetation. A team of researchers at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu are using acoustics to help to understand this beetle, its habits and movements in order to protect the state's valuable natural resources.

Bioenergy grass can withstand freezing temperatures

March 2012 was unusually warm. Biomass crops around the Midwest were well established and thriving. But when a late frost came in mid-April, all of that changed.

How a researcher discovered a completely undocumented whale

One evening in November 2013, the noted whale researcher Salvatore Cerchio sat down to dinner with his team of scientists on Nosy Iranja, a small island known for its white sands and turquoise waters that's located off the northwest coast of Madagascar. As he took his seat, Cerchio could barely contain his excitement. He'd spent the better part a decade working in the general region of Madagascar, heading up research into the local population of dolphins and whales with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and he was pretty sure that, earlier in the day, he and his team had encountered six Bryde's whales, an exceedingly rare cousin of the humpback.

The black rail—a bird that's been flying under the radar since Audubon's day

The eastern black rail is small, secretive, mysterious and in trouble.

Intuitive and efficient solution to eliminate anomalies in immunological studies

A*STAR researchers have developed a new bioinformatics tool called flowAI, which provides a more objective, efficient and intuitive solution to the quality control of data acquired via a common biological technique called flow cytometry.

The evolution of the baleen in whales

Baleen whales, such as the gigantic 30m-long blue whale, are the largest animals that have ever lived on this planet. They even beat the largest of the dinosaurs. But, ironically, the secret to their success lies in their taste for tiny prey.

Tail hairs reveal dietary choices of three horse species in the Gobi Desert

Przewalski's horse, a species of wild horse that has been successfully reintroduced to the Gobi Desert, shares its pasture grounds with wild asses and free-roaming domestic horses. A scarce supply of food could lead to food competition among the different species, especially if they make the same dietary choices. A team led by researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna therefore chemically analysed the tail hairs of the animals to determine the seasonal dietary habits of the three species. While the wild ass switches from being a grazer in the summer to also browse in the winter, the wild and domestic horses eat exclusively grass all year round. In the lean winter months, this leads to increased food competition between wild and domestic horses. This realisation could help improve wildlife management measures for the Przewalski's horse in the future. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Corals much older than previously thought, study finds

Coral genotypes can survive for thousands of years, possibly making them the longest-lived animals in the world, according to researchers at Penn State, the National Marine Fisheries Service and Dial Cordy & Associates.

Genomics technique could accelerate detection of foodborne bacterial outbreaks

A new testing methodology based on metagenomics could accelerate the diagnosis of foodborne bacterial outbreaks, allowing public health officials to identify the microbial culprits in less than a day. The methodology could also identify co-infections with secondary microbes, determine the specific variant of the pathogen, and help alert health officials to the presence of new or unusual pathogens.

Researcher says management of pine beetle not working

A method to control the spread of mountain pine beetles—pheromone baiting—may actually help the pest's population increase, UBC research shows.

Cycad seed tissue loaded with carbohydrates

Learning how to make a seed was one of the crucial transitions for the world's plants. The competitive advantages that seed-producing plants possess has led to their dominance in most contemporary natural habitats. Additionally, the crops that comprise the bulk of today's human diet are all seed-producing plants. The original plants that learned to make a seed did so without a flower and fruit to aid in the process. Some of these original plants have persisted throughout the eons, and studying these plants offers scientists an opportunity to uncover some of the traits that have enabled their persistence.

Rare ferrets settling in, making babies at new Colorado home

Dozens of slinky, ferocious and rare ferrets are settling in and making babies at their new home in Colorado, one year after they were released at a wildlife refuge outside Denver.

As oceans empty, Kenya fishermen must adapt or disappear

Ahmed Ali Mohamed snorkels over sea grass and coral, keeping an eye out for different fish species darting through the waters below him.

S. Korea confirms more cases of deadly bird flu

South Korea Wednesday revealed new cases of a deadly strain of bird flu as authorities said they had slaughtered two million chickens and ducks in a bid to control the outbreak.

Certification would ensure quality welfare during cattle transport

Over 530,000 cattle are shipped to slaughter plants each week, making the transport of cattle a vitally important part of the beef and dairy industries. Almost all beef or dairy cattle are transported once during their life, and often they may be transported as many as 6 times. A new report details how a cattle transporter quality assurance program could help ensure the safe, humane, and expeditious shipping of cattle and benefit the industry significantly in terms of both economics and efficiency.

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