Friday, January 27, 2017

Science X Newsletter Friday, Jan 27

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 27, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers couple then decouple overlapping memories in mice

Scientists find that stem cell exosomes promote survival of retinal ganglion cells in rats

A new test for life on other planets

Rapid trait evolution crucial to species growth, study finds

'Survival gene' stops strains of tuberculosis mutating into deadly 'superbugs'

Artificial intelligence uncovers new insight into biophysics of cancer

Toxic mercury in aquatic life could spike with greater land runoff

Climate models may underestimate future warming on tropical mountains

Researchers are looking at backpack guidance system on the dragonfly

A new brain mapping technique reveals circuitry of Parkinson's disease tremors

A chain reaction to spare the air

Microgel composite could overcome fibrin blockade to accelerate healing

Boron atoms stretch out, gain new powers

Small but mighty—fruit fly muscles

Mouse study shows REM sleep selectively prunes and maintains new synapses

Astronomy & Space news

NASA studies cosmic radiation to protect high-altitude travelers

NASA scientists studying high-altitude radiation recently published new results on the effects of cosmic radiation in our atmosphere. Their research will help improve real-time radiation monitoring for aviation industry crew and passengers working in potentially higher radiation environments.

Star birth with a chance of winds?

The lesser-known constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs), is home to a variety of deep-sky objects—including this beautiful galaxy, known as NGC 4861. Astronomers are still debating on how to classify it. While its physical properties—such as mass, size and rotational velocity—indicate it to be a spiral galaxy, its appearance looks more like a comet with its dense, luminous "head" and dimmer "tail" trailing off. Features more fitting with a dwarf irregular galaxy.

Fluctuating forces of flight captured by new, high-tech paint

As it thunders upward through the Earth's atmosphere to carry a spacecraft into orbit, a rocket is buffeted by a chaotic flow of air. At high speeds, airplanes experience a similar, unsteady flow of air over their wings. This creates considerable pressure forces that change rapidly in strength and direction, especially at or near the speed of sound.

Why the Earth's magnetic poles could be about to swap places – and how it would affect us

The Earth's magnetic field surrounds our planet like an invisible force field – protecting life from harmful solar radiation by deflecting charged particles away. Far from being constant, this field is continuously changing. Indeed, our planet's history includes at least several hundred global magnetic reversals, where north and south magnetic poles swap places. So when's the next one happening and how will it affect life on Earth?

Tiny satellites poised to make big contributions to essential science

Tiny satellites, some smaller than a shoe box, are currently orbiting around 200 miles above Earth, collecting data about our planet and the universe. It's not just their small stature but also their accompanying smaller cost that sets them apart from the bigger commercial satellites that beam phone calls and GPS signals around the world, for instance. These SmallSats are poised to change the way we do science from space. Their cheaper price tag means we can launch more of them, allowing for constellations of simultaneous measurements from different viewing locations multiple times a day – a bounty of data which would be cost-prohibitive with traditional, larger platforms.

NASA opens exhibit on 50th anniversary of Apollo 1 fire

NASA opened an exhibit Friday honoring the astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire—50 years to the day they died.

A farewell to Plutoshine

Sometimes, its not the eye candy aspect of the image, but what it represents. A recent image of Pluto's large moon Charon courtesy of New Horizons depicting what could only be termed 'Plutoshine' caught our eye. Looking like something from the grainy era of the early Space Age, we see a crescent Charon, hanging against a starry background…

Technology news

Researchers are looking at backpack guidance system on the dragonfly

(Tech Xplore)—A micro-aerial vehicle is in project focus with surprising components: an actual dragonfly insect being steered to create an aerial vehicle smaller lighter and stealthier than anything that is man made.

Startup brings solar-powered, phone-charging park benches and digital signs to cities worldwide

Equipped with high-tech versions of common city fixtures—namely, smart benches and digital information signs—and fueled by a "deploy or die" attitude, MIT Media Lab spinout Changing Environments is hoping to accelerate the development of "smart" cities that use technology to solve urban challenges.

The French ponder 'joie de vivre' in a work-free future

What role will work play in our future lives populated with robots and driverless vehicles? As France prepares to elect a new president, it is wrangling with bigger issues than simple election manifestos.

The future of unmanned flight approaches

The once-small community of drone hobbyists has transformed into a worldwide phenomenon. In 2016 especially, significant technology improvements and regulatory clarity have paved the way for even more dramatic changes in the coming years.

Nordic countries are bringing about an energy transition worth copying

What can we learn from the Nordic low-carbon energy transition given the new US leadership vacuum on climate change? A new study by Professor Benjamin Sovacool at the University of Sussex offers some important lessons.

German prosecutors widen Volkswagen emissions probe

Prosecutors in Germany said Friday they are expanding their probe into Volkswagen's scandal over diesel cars that cheated on emissions tests.

Craigslist founder donates $500K to curb Wikipedia trolls

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is donating $500,000 to help curb harassment on Wikipedia.

Real-life 'Q' is a woman, British spy chief reveals

The inventor behind James Bond's ingenious gadgets, codenamed "Q" in the spy films, exists in reality and is actually a woman, the head of Britain's MI6 espionage agency has said.

Ride-hailing service for women launches next week

An Uber-like service connecting female riders and drivers is launching in Boston following a rebranding and leadership change.

Apple joins group devoted to keeping AI nice

A technology industry alliance devoted to making sure smart machines don't turn against humanity said Friday that Apple has signed on and will have a seat on the board.

Rogue tweeters in government could be prosecuted as hackers

Who are the federal government's rogue tweeters, using official agency social media accounts to poke President Donald Trump? Are these acts of civil disobedience, or federal crimes?

Pilot plant to obtain strategic metals through energy recovery from solid urban waste

The FARM consortium has developed a pilot plant that carries out an integral process for strategic metal concentration and recycling in solid urban waste (SUW) energy recovery facilities.

Connection control technology for LTE and wi-fi to improve communication speed in wi-fi areas

Fujitsu Laboratories today announced the development of connection control technology for LTE and Wi-Fi to boost communication speed in areas with Wi-Fi. When devices doing high-load communications tasks, such as streaming videos, are concentrated on a single Wi-Fi access point, deterioration in communications speed for each of these devices is a problem. Up to this point, devices have been equipped with technology to enable them to choose a communications route to mitigate communication speed deterioration, such as connecting to LTE instead of Wi-Fi when the Wi-Fi's communication quality is poor. However, as each device determines its communications route independently, without considering the impact on other devices, this can instead cause overall communications speed to decrease.

New app facilitates mobility and parking for people with disabilities and avoids fraud

Although treaties of the European Union guarantee the fundamental right of any European citizen to move freely between its member states, people with reduced mobility cannot yet fully enjoy it.

EU wants Trump reassurances on data protection: commissioner

The EU is hoping for reassurances from new US President Donald Trump that he will stick by a hard-won personal data protection accord with Europe, a top official said Friday.

Mark Zuckerberg dropping lawsuits seeking to buy Hawaii land

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Friday that he was dropping lawsuits seeking to buy out Native Hawaiians who own small pieces of land within his sprawling estate on the island of Kauai, promising to work with the community on "a new approach."

Medicine & Health news

Researchers couple then decouple overlapping memories in mice

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at the University of Toyama in Japan has found a way to uncouple overlapping memories in mice. In their paper published in the journal Science, the researchers describe how they induced two separate memories in test mice, how they caused the two memories to overlap and then how they decoupled them without erasing either

Scientists find that stem cell exosomes promote survival of retinal ganglion cells in rats

A new study in rats shows that stem cell secretions, called exosomes, appear to protect cells in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. The findings, published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine, point to potential therapies for glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

'Survival gene' stops strains of tuberculosis mutating into deadly 'superbugs'

Scientists have discovered a key 'survival gene' that prevents strains of tuberculosis (TB) from mutating into drug-resistant 'superbugs'.

Artificial intelligence uncovers new insight into biophysics of cancer

Scientists from Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences, the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County have used artificial intelligence to gain insight into the biophysics of cancer. Their machine-learning platform predicted a trio of reagents that was able to generate a never-before-seen cancer-like phenotype in tadpoles. The research, reported in Scientific Reports on January 27, shows how artificial intelligence (AI) can help human researchers in fields such as oncology and regenerative medicine control complex biological systems to reach new and previously unachievable outcomes.

A new brain mapping technique reveals circuitry of Parkinson's disease tremors

If a piece of electronics isn't working, troubleshooting the problem often involves probing the flow of electricity through the various components of the circuit to locate any faulty parts.

Mouse study shows REM sleep selectively prunes and maintains new synapses

(Medical Xpress)—A small team of researchers with affiliations to the New York University School of Medicine and Peking University has found evidence of pruning and maintenance of synapses during REM sleep. In their paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Wei Li, Lei Ma, Guang Yang and Wen-Biao Gan describe their study of mouse brains and REM sleep, what they learned and how it might apply to humans.

Scientists find brain hormone that triggers fat burning

Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a brain hormone that appears to trigger fat burning in the gut. Their findings in animal models could have implications for future pharmaceutical development.

Researchers help the body protect itself against inflammation and colon cancer

Could inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer be prevented by changing the shape of a single protein?

Twice-daily radiation therapy cuts deaths from head and neck cancer

Treating head and neck cancer patients with a twice-daily radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy could save more lives, according to new research presented at the European Cancer Congress 2017.

Oral devices reduce sleep apnea but may not affect heart disease risk factors

In patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), oral appliances that treat the condition by moving the lower jaw forward appear to improve sleep but not reduce key risk factors for developing heart and other cardiovascular disease, according to new research published online, ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Rush for 'Barbie' vagina has experts stumped

A rush of women going under the knife for designer genitals has taken even plastic surgeons by surprise and divided medical professionals on the ethics and benefits of "labiaplasty".

Roots of Alzheimer's disease can extend as far back as the womb

Biochemical reactions that cause Alzheimer's disease could begin in the womb or just after birth if the fetus or newborn does not get enough vitamin A, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Clue to how cancer cells spread

In a second human case, a Yale-led research team has found that a melanoma cell and a white blood cell can fuse to form a hybrid with the ability to metastasize. The finding provides further insight into how melanoma and other cancers spread from solid tumors with implications for future treatment.

Trump administration pulls back on ads

The Trump administration says it is pulling back advertising to promote as open enrollment draws to a close for this year.

Lack of exercise might invite dementia

(HealthDay)—Parking yourself in front of the TV may make you as likely to develop dementia as people genetically predisposed to the condition, a Canadian study suggests.

Why do we need large population studies?

Per Magnus, director of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) at the NIPH, together with two researchers from the UK and Denmark, have written a commentary article in the latest issue of the prestigious journal JAMA Pediatrics. The journal is published by the American Medical Association.

Why advances in treating those with brain injuries require advances in respecting their rights

Several years ago a father approached me, concerned about the care his son was receiving. The son had been in a car accident that left him with severe brain injury. He was placed in a nursing home, and his dad stopped by regularly to check in on him. The father feared his son was being ignored or, worse, left in pain or distress.

How educated Sub-Saharan African immigrant mothers teach children about sex

While many African immigrants make efforts to retain their culture, when it comes to sex education, acculturation can occur three times faster than average.

Zika uses axons to spread havoc in central nervous system

The Zika virus wreaks havoc in the central nervous system well after the initial stages of pregnancy and can use long axon projections of neurons to spread, a new Yale School of Medicine study suggests. 

New association found between gene mutations and cancer metastasis

Researchers at Uppsala University have identified gene mutations that are associated with the spread of metastases in colorectal cancer. The findings that have recently been published in the journal Cancer Research could be used to identify patients that would benefit most from further therapy, after having surgery, and that require close monitoring to detect disease recurrence.

Food and antibiotics may change microorganisms in gut, causing IBS

A recent review of research suggests that changes to the microorganisms (microbiota) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may be a cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The review article is published in the American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

Safe utilisation of dietary sugars requires dynamic control of redox balance

The regulatory system to control redox balance involves sugar-dependent gene regulation and protein phosphorylation. Without dynamic control of redox balance animals lose their ability to survive on sugar-rich food.

New insights into infertility-causing sex chromosome disorders

Research carried out by Francis Crick Institute scientists provides new insights into sex chromosome disorders which typically cause infertility, such as Turner syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome. Through their research, the scientists have discovered an exception to a 'rule' or 'principle' of chromosome biology first hypothesised in 1967.

Women treated for precursor of breast cancer can expect to live as long as other women

Women over 50 who have been treated for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) are more likely to be alive ten years later than women in the general population, according to new research presented at the European Cancer Congress 2017.

Study creates 'mini-lung' to study effect of pulmonary fibrosis drugs

Pulmospheres, three dimensional multicellular spheroids composed of lung cells from individual patients, were shown to be effective in predicting the efficacy of medications for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, according to findings from University of Alabama at Birmingham scientists presented today in JCI Insight, a journal of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Detecting counterfeit medicines

Bernard Naughton and Dr David Brindley from Oxford University's Saïd Business School and Medical Sciences Division discuss the problems of identifying fake, substandard and expired medicines.

Some scientific explanations for alien abduction that aren't so out of this world

Accounts of mysterious flashing lights in the sky, spacecrafts and encounters with "real" aliens reflect high levels of public interest in UFOs and the belief that there is "something out there". However, many psychologists are less convinced, and think they can provide more down-to-earth, scientific explanations.

Can simple dietary advice improve maternal and child health?

In Mangochi in Malawi, researchers have mapped local food intake and habits to arrive at simple and accessible nutrition advice for pregnant women. They are now testing how village volunteers can teach women to make small modifications to common dishes. The aim is to improve the intake and uptake of important nutrients during pregnancy, and increase the weight of both the mothers and their babies.

New study into leukemia offers clearer understanding of its biology

Leukemia affects 350,000 people worldwide. It is a cancer of the white blood cells, which are the cells of the immune system and are produced by stem cells in the bone marrow. There are two types of chronic and two types of acute leukemia. One chronic type, chronic myeloid leukemia accounts for ~20% of all cases, and is caused by a mutated enzyme with unregulated activity. This enzyme comes in two sizes, the second of which is associated with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Being the focus of current leukemia treatment, understanding the role of the enzyme is critical. EPFL scientists have now used proteomics to compare the two forms of the enzyme extensively, uncovering a much clearer view of how it may give different forms of leukemia. The work, published in Leukemia, opens up possibilities for improved drug development and therapy.

Examining women's bones during menopause may help head off fractures

Bone fragility has long been a worrisome condition affecting women as they age.

Research suggests way to improve stroke treatments

The standard of care for treating strokes caused by blood clots involves the therapeutic infusion of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which can help to dissolve the clots and restore blood flow. This "thrombolytic" treatment carries the risk of bleeding and swelling in the brain, and it must be administered within three hours after the start of the stroke, which sharply limits its clinical benefits.

Why people are so good at spotting product downsizing and so bad at judging supersizing

But whenever a brand tries to shave a few percentages off the size of their product, consumers immediately notice and complain. The latest revolt occurred earlier when Mondelez reduced the size of its Toblerone chocolate bars in the UK by increasing the gap between its triangular chunks.

Chronic sleep deprivation suppresses immune system

Many people report getting sick when they don't get enough sleep. A new study helps explain why.

Antibodies as 'messengers' in the nervous system

Antibodies are able to activate human nerve cells within milliseconds and hence modify their function—that is the surprising conclusion of a study carried out at Human Biology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). This knowledge improves our understanding of illnesses that accompany certain types of cancer, above all severe intestinal malfunctions.

Nip, tuck, lift and shape: Cosmetic surgery thrives

Demand for cosmetic surgery is showing no sign of abating, with a boom in Asia as the procedures become more affordable and less of a taboo, experts said.

A way out of the junk-food eating cycle

People are easily pulled into binge culture's quick-fix obsession with junk-food. But, according to a study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, they might just as easily be able to pull themselves out of it.

Study: Impact of genetics on human height is not increasing

The relative impact of genetics on height does not increase with improvements to the standard of living. These are the findings of an international research group which analysed the impact of genetic and environmental factors on adult height over a span of more than a century. The research material comprised 40 twin cohorts, including more than 143,000 twin pairs from 20 countries.

Joints that make those popping or cracking sounds

(HealthDay)—If you've ever heard a loud pop as you bent down to pick something up, you'll be relieved to know that it's normal for your joints to make popping and cracking noises.

Slim but sedentary: risk of prediabetes may rise

(HealthDay)—Here's yet another reason to get off the couch: Inactivity is associated with greater risk of prediabetes, even for healthy-weight adults, a new study finds.

Schools reach beyond 'Just Say No' on opioid dangers

Schools are going beyond "Just Say No" as they teach students as young as kindergartners about the dangers of opioids in the hope that they don't later become part of the growing crisis.

Bacteria in the cervix may be key to understanding premature birth

Depending on the specific type, bacteria in a woman's vagina and cervix may increase the risk of premature birth or protect against it, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Results of the study provide groundbreaking information that the authors suggest could help physicians learn how to prevent preterm birth, either by eliminating the "bad" bacteria, or increasing the "protective" bacteria. The study was presented this week at the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine's 37th Annual Pregnancy Meeting in Las Vegas, and received the March of Dimes Award for Best Abstract on Prematurity.

High-mileage runners expend less energy

(HealthDay)—The bodies of runners who put in a lot of mileage appear to be more efficient at running compared to those who run less, a new study finds.

HT to preserve fertility doesn't appreciably affect survival

(HealthDay)—For young patients with endometrial cancer, survival does not appear to be significantly impacted by hormone therapy (HT) before surgery to preserve fertility, according to a study published online Dec. 27 in Cancer.

Ketone monitoring infrequent in patients with type 1 diabetes

(HealthDay)—For patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D), self-reported ketone monitoring is infrequent overall, according to research published online Jan. 18 in Diabetes Care.

Aromatase inhibitor plus growth hormone can optimize height

(HealthDay)—Use of an aromatase inhibitor in combination with growth hormone seems effective for optimizing height in 11β-hydroxylase-deficient congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), according to a case report published online Jan. 26 in Pediatrics.

Level 3 polysomnography data noninferior for OSA

(HealthDay)—For patients with suspected obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), use of level 3 (L3) polysomnography (PSG) data with fewer recording channels is noninferior to level 1 (L1) PSG, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Flu hospitalizations, deaths increasing: CDC

(HealthDay)— Although this year's flu season appears to be an average one so far, more hospitalizations are being reported and deaths are increasing, federal health officials reported Friday.

Rebalancing gut microbiome lengthens survival in mouse model of ALS

A bacterial by-product known to be important in maintaining gut health may slow the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS - a progressive, neurodegenerative disease.

Researchers explore how protein production gets distorted in skin cancer

Each cell in the body follows a strict protocol for manufacturing the proteins it needs to function. When a cell turns cancerous, however, its protein production goes off script. A new study led by researchers at The Rockefeller University takes a close look at one way in which this procedure goes haywire in skin cells as they turn cancerous.

Evaluating the benefits of health insurance on cancer care

Millions of Americans acquire their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, including individuals from disadvantaged communities (as defined by a summary measure comprised of U.S. Census measures of income, education, and employment). Patients with one of the four leading causes of cancer deaths have lower rates of cancer-specific survival based on where they live, specifically based on their social determinants of health. The extent to which health insurance can ease the effects of these social determinants of health on cancer care is the subject of current research led by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center's Sandra Wong, MD, Vice President and Chair of the Department of Surgery. Her work, "The impact of health insurance status on cancer care in disadvantaged communities" was recently published in the journal, Cancer.

US anti-abortion camp rallies in DC with Trump's backing (Update)

Optimistic anti-abortion advocates rallied in the US capital on Friday, with the White House throwing its weight behind the cause and Vice President Mike Pence hailing it as a "historic" time for the movement.

Use of digital technology can have negative effects on mental and physical health

Researchers have found that our increasing thirst for digital technology can have negative effects on our mental and physical health, neurological development and personal relationships.

AP-NORC Poll: Broad worries about potential health care loss

Though "Obamacare" still divides Americans, a majority worry that many will lose coverage if the 2010 law is repealed in the nation's long-running political standoff over health care.

Free refills from soda fountains no longer on tap in France

Offering free refills from self-service soda fountains has been uncommon in France, but now the practice is illegal.

Nursing study investigates link between growth of retail-based clinics and nurse practitioner scope-of-practice reform

Just as primary care provider shortages are becoming acute, retail-based clinics in pharmacies and grocery stores are set to fill the gap in accessible patient care. Yet in some states, access to this convenient care is constrained due to restrictive scope-of-practice laws.

New system for therapeutic gene delivery increases transgene expression up to 100-fold

Advanced engineering of a mini-intronic plasmid (MIP) system designed to carry a therapeutic gene can significantly enhance the expression of the transgene delivered using an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector. The ability to increase transgene expression by up to 40 to 100-fold, which would reduce the cost of manufacturing and perhaps also lessen the immune response of AAV/MIP-based gene therapy, is reported in Human Gene Therapy.

EU nurses registering in UK falls by 90% post-Brexit

The number of European nurses registering to work in Britain has fallen by more than 90 percent since last June's Brexit vote, the British Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) told AFP on Friday.

No torture, psychologists' group says to Trump

(HealthDay)—Torture is ineffective and cruel, says a group of U.S. psychologists urging President Donald Trump not to restart the CIA's so-called "enhanced" interrogation program.

Researchers study interaction between 'accelerator' and 'brake' in the striatum

In order to drive a car, you need a good balance between accelerator and brake. The same applies to a part of the brain - the striatum - that controls our movements. Research at Lund University in Sweden has led to new findings on the interaction between the "accelerator" and the "brake" in the striatum. These findings may guide the development of treatments for movement disorders such as those occurring in Parkinson's disease.

Health care signup deadline approaches on Jan. 31

The future of the Affordable Care Act is unclear, stirring up financial and medical concerns for many consumers. It leaves some to wonder, What now?

Canada considers contributing to Dutch abortion fund

Canada is considering contributing to a Dutch-led international fund to support abortion services in developing countries, set up in response to US President Donald Trump's order to halt financing of NGOs that support the practice.

Biology news

Rapid trait evolution crucial to species growth, study finds

Rapid evolution at the edges of a given species habitat may play a larger role in population expansions than previously suspected, according to the results of a new University of Colorado Boulder-led study.

Small but mighty—fruit fly muscles

Fruit flies are capable of impressive aerial maneuvers, as is grudgingly acknowledged by anyone who has unsuccessfully tried to swat away one of the familiar kitchen pests. Interestingly, the flies perform these nimble evasive movements using only 12 flight muscles, each controlled by one brain cell, or neuron. In comparison, hummingbirds can produce almost identical aerial patterns but use 100 times more neurons per muscle.

Evolution contributes to invasive beetles' speed, range of dispersion

Just a little bit of help from evolution allows invasive species to disperse farther and faster, according to Rice University scientists.

Corn turning French hamsters into deranged cannibals: research

A diet of corn is turning wild hamsters in northeastern France into deranged cannibals that devour their offspring, alarmed researchers have reported.

California clears hurdle for cancer warning label on Roundup

California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday.

First 3-D observation of nanomachines working inside cells

Currently, biologists who study the function of protein nanomachines isolate these complexes outside the cell in test tubes, and then apply in vitro techniques that allow them to observe their structure down to the atomic level. Alternatively, they use techniques that allow the analysis of these complexes within the living cell but that give little structural information. In this study, the scientists have directly observed the structure and function of the protein machinery in living cells.

Scientists discover BCAS2 involved in alternative mRNA splicing in spermatogonia and the transit to meiosis

Alternative splicing significantly expands the form and function of the genome of organisms with limited gene numbers and is especially important for several stages of mouse spermatogenesis.

The future of genome editing and how it will be regulated

A new technology called CRISPR is making international headlines as a monumental leap in genetic engineering. CRISPR, an acronym for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats," is a genome-editing technology that allows scientists to alter DNA much more quickly, easily and efficiently than older genetic engineering methods.

Dogs share food with other dogs even in complex situations

Humans aren't the only species to exhibit behaviour benefiting others of their kind, such as helping or sharing. Dogs also share their food, albeit mainly with four-legged friends rather than strangers. A new study conducted by behavioural biologists from the Messerli Research Institute at Vetmeduni Vienna has now confirmed this prosocial behaviour among canines. The more complex methodology of the study, however, showed that the experimental set-up has an impact on the dogs' behaviour and that even the mere presence of another dog makes the animals more generous. On the other hand, prosocial dogs remained less charitable with unfamiliar partners. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Diverse natural fatty acids follow 'Golden Mean'

Bioinformatics scientists at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) have discovered that the number of theoretically possible fatty acids with the same chain length but different structures can be determined with the aid of the famous Fibonacci sequence. As they explain in Scientific Reports, the number of possible fatty acids with increasing chain length rises at each step by a factor of approximately 1.618, and therefore agrees with what is called the 'Golden Mean.' The ability to calculate the number of possible fatty acids is of great importance for their chemical analysis ('lipidomics'). This finding can also be used in synthetic biology and in other applications.

Researchers list reasons not to lick a toad

As human diseases become alarmingly antibiotic resistant, identification of new pharmaceuticals is critical. The cane toad and other members of the Bufonidae family produce substances widely used in traditional folk medicine, but endangered family members, like Panama's golden frog, Atelopus zeteki, may disappear before revealing their secrets. Smithsonian scientists and colleagues at the University of Panama; Panama's government research center, INDICASAT AIP; Vanderbilt University in Tennessee; and Acharya Nagarjuna University in Guntur, India, created a compendium of the known chemicals produced by this amphibian family in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, highlighting their largely unexplored potential for new drug discovery.

Group says South African donkeys killed for China market

Reports that donkeys were bludgeoned with hammers and skinned alive on a South African farm highlight the illegal slaughter of increasing numbers of the animals, whose hides are used in traditional medicine in China, according to animal rights activists.

South Central Texas residents bewildered by recent bee behavior

Molly Keck, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist and integrated pest management specialist in Bexar County, has been receiving a number of phone calls from area residents bewildered by recent bee activity.

Paw-fect rescue: Bulgarian stray cats get bionic legs

Two stray Bulgarian cats who lost their hind legs in accidents have been given bionic paws, in what vets say is the first such operation in Europe outside groundbreaking Britain.

Cincinnati Zoo says premature hippo gets some mother's milk

The Cincinnati Zoo says a prematurely born baby hippo is getting some of her mother's milk.

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