Friday, March 17, 2017

Science X Newsletter Friday, Mar 17

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 17, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Astronomers observe a dying red giant star's final act

LHCb observes an exceptionally large group of particles

Researchers find a way to reverse antibiotic resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

For a modest personality trait, 'intellectual humility' packs a punch

Transparent ceramics make super-hard windows

Untreated sleep apnea in children can harm brain cells tied to cognition and mood

New role for immune cells in preventing diabetes and hypertension

Extensive ice cap once covered sub-antarctic island of South Georgia

SWiM—an evolution in one-handed texting

Gold foil discovery could lead to wearable technology

Diagnostic approach for veterans suffering hearing impairment and related brain injury from mild blast trauma

ESA's Jupiter mission moves off the drawing board

Fat cells step in to help liver during fasting

Visualizing assemblies of the proteins that direct cyanobacterial circadian rhythms

Technique could protect robot teams' communication networks from malicious hackers

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers observe a dying red giant star's final act

An international team of astronomers has observed a striking spiral pattern in the gas surrounding a red giant star named LL Pegasi and its companion star 3,400 light-years from Earth, using a powerful telescope in northern Chile called Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA.

ESA's Jupiter mission moves off the drawing board

Demanding electric, magnetic and power requirements, harsh radiation, and strict planetary protection rules are some of the critical issues that had to be tackled in order to move ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – Juice – from the drawing board and into construction.

Scientists make the case to restore Pluto's planet status

Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: Regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So is Europa, commonly known as a moon of Jupiter, and the Earth's moon, and more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under a prevailing definition of "planet."

ALMA's ability to see a 'cosmic hole' confirmed

Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) successfully imaged a radio "hole" around a galaxy cluster 4.8 billion light-years away. This is the highest resolution image ever taken of such a hole caused by the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect (SZ effect). The image proves ALMA's high capability to investigate the distribution and temperature of gas around galaxy clusters through the SZ effect.

Hubble discovery of runaway star yields clues to breakup of multiple-star system

As British royal families fought the War of the Roses in the 1400s for control of England's throne, a grouping of stars was waging its own contentious skirmish—a star wars far away in the Orion Nebula.

Image: Etna erupts

This image of the lava flowing from Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, was captured today at 10:45 GMT (11:45 CET) by the Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite.

NASA says goodbye to Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite after 17 years

The first to map active lava flows from space.

Two more spacewalks for Thomas Pesquet

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will make two more spacewalks under NASA's plans to maintain the International Space Station during his mission.

Why Virgin Orbit's new president isn't worried about a bubble in the small satellite market

It seems like everyone wants their own swarm of small satellites.

New Hubble mosaic of the Orion Nebula

In the search for rogue planets and failed stars astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have created a new mosaic image of the Orion Nebula. During their survey of the famous star formation region, they found what may be the missing piece of a cosmic puzzle; the third, long-lost member of a star system that had broken apart.

Japan launches latest spy satellite

Japan launched a new spy satellite on Friday, the country's space agency said, as the region grows increasingly uneasy over North Korea's quickening missile programme.

Zero2Infinity successfully test launches its Bloostar prototype

Founded in 2009, the private aerospace company Zero2Infinity – which is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain – was created with the vision of delivering orbital payloads and providing space tourism on a budget. But unlike your conventional aerospace companies – i.e. SpaceX, Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, etc – their plan is to do it all using high-altitude stratospheric balloons.

Technology news

SWiM—an evolution in one-handed texting

The growing popularity of mobile devices with large screens – called "phablets" – and also small screen wearable devices, such as smartwatches, is making interacting with them with one hand increasingly difficult. This is especially true when trying to input text with one hand.

Technique could protect robot teams' communication networks from malicious hackers

Distributed planning, communication, and control algorithms for autonomous robots make up a major area of research in computer science. But in the literature on multirobot systems, security has gotten relatively short shrift.

Order is up. Who had the guilt-free, no-slaughter fried chicken wings?

(Tech Xplore)—There is a ready consumer base for meatless strips, patties and breakfast links as awareness has grown over the years about environmental degradation, animal welfare abuses and public health risks. But here is a twist: What if you could browse the supermarket aisles not only for meat-free but meat that is animal-free? How cool is that?

After 75 years, Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics need updating

When science fiction author Isaac Asimov devised his Three Laws of Robotics he was thinking about androids. He envisioned a world where these human-like robots would act like servants and would need a set of programming rules to prevent them from causing harm. But in the 75 years since the publication of the first story to feature his ethical guidelines, there have been significant technological advancements. We now have a very different conception of what robots can look like and how we will interact with them.

Wi-fi on rays of light—100 times faster, and never overloaded

Slow wi-fi is a source of irritation that nearly everyone experiences. Wireless devices in the home consume ever more data, and it's only growing, and congesting the wi-fi network. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with a surprising solution: a wireless network based on harmless infrared rays. The capacity is not only huge (more than 40Gbit/s per ray) but also there is no need to share since every device gets its own ray of light. This was the subject for which TU/e researcher Joanne Oh received her PhD degree with the 'cum laude' distinction last week.

Sony patent application talks about method for wirelessly juicing up devices via NFC

(Tech Xplore)—Wirelessly charging your phone using your friend's phone? You have to hand it to Sony for bright ideas. James Milne, True Xiong and Charles McCoy are named as the inventors on a Sony patent application published earlier this month.

Israeli tech firms revving up engines for self-driving cars

As the world moves toward an era of self-driving cars, Israel is positioning itself to be the Detroit of the future.

Turning James Joyce's 'Ulysses' into a virtual reality game

Students are developing a virtual reality game based on James Joyce's "Ulysses" as part of a class at Boston College.

Intel deal may fuel Israel's rise as builder of car brains

Intel's $15-billion purchase of Israeli firm Mobileye could help fuel the country's rise in the driverless car industry—not as a builder of vehicles, but as the brains behind them.

S&P cuts troubled Toshiba's credit rating

Standard & Poor's cut its credit rating on Toshiba again Friday, warning that the troubled company's finances were quickly deteriorating owing to huge losses at its US nuclear unit.

China blocks Pinterest: censorship watchdogs

Image-curation website Pinterest has become the latest social media service blocked in China, checks on censorship monitoring websites indicated Friday.

Electric bus with Toshiba's wireless charger cuts CO2 emissions by up to 60% in field testing

Toshiba Corporation today announced the results of field tests of electric buses charged with its wireless rapid rechargeable battery system. The tests, carried out with the cooperation of Waseda University, concluded that using the buses to replace standard diesel buses could cut CO2 emissions from daily operation by up to 60%. The project was supported by the Ministry of the Environment's Low Carbon Technology Research and Development Program.

A multi-channel nano-optical device dramatically increases the parallel processing speed

The IBS research group devised disordered arrangement of the antennas to minimize redundancy between the antennas and enabled each antenna to function independently. As a result, the device can provide 40 times wider bandwidth than existing antennas periodically arranged. "We are proposing a new way to connect nanoscale microprocessors to ultra-high-speed optical communications," commented Dr. Choi.

Is fog more secure than cloud?

Computer scientists in Italy are working on a new concept for remote and distributed storage of documents that could have all the benefits of cloud computing but without the security issues of putting one's sensitive documents on a single remote server. They describe details in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.

Bypassing encryption: 'Lawful hacking' is the next frontier of law enforcement technology

The discussion about how law enforcement or government intelligence agencies might rapidly decode information someone else wants to keep secret is – or should be – shifting. One commonly proposed approach, introducing what is called a "backdoor" to the encryption algorithm itself, is now widely recognized as too risky to be worth pursuing any further.

Lockheed Martin to deliver world record-setting 60kw laser to U.S. Army

Lockheed Martin has completed the design, development and demonstration of a 60 kW-class beam combined fiber laser for the U.S. Army.

New computer software program excels at lip reading

A new computer software program has the potential to lip-read more accurately than people and to help those with hearing loss, Oxford University researchers have found.

Germany to test dialect analysis software on asylum-seekers

Germany plans to test software that can automatically recognize a person's dialect to help determine whether asylum-seekers are really where they claim they're from.

Review: SnapPower teaches old plugs and switches some new tricks

Electric outlets, light switches, safety covers and USB charger are impressive in their simplicity

Unlimited data plans offer boon to consumers

In the wireless industry, it's back to the unlimited future.

Software company rises as price configuration takes off

FPX, a pioneering Minnesota software company that survived three decades of industry change, is accelerating its product development with an infusion of capital from a new owner.

AI won't kill you, but ignoring it might kill your business, experts say

Relax. Artificial intelligence is making our lives easier, but won't be a threat to human existence, according to panel of practitioners in the space.

Long before new hacks, US worried by Russian spying efforts

Years before Russian intelligence agencies stood accused of interfering in the U.S. presidential election and of orchestrating a massive Yahoo data breach, there was lingerie model Anna Chapman and her band of "Illegals"—Russian spies who assumed false identities and lived as deep-cover agents in middle-class America.

European teens – especially girls – dream about cars

A study on mobility patterns among young people shows that under-18s have a very positive image of cars. The researchers' approach relied heavily on social media.

Telecom policy tilts in favor of industry under Trump's FCC

Trumpism is slowly taking hold on your phone and computer, as the Federal Communications Commission starts rolling back measures that upset the phone and cable industries.

Bail hearing set for Canadian accused in Yahoo email hack

A Canadian man of Kazakh origins who was arrested in a massive hack of Yahoo emails appeared briefly via video link in a Hamilton, Ontario court on Friday where a date has been set for his bail hearing.

Medicine & Health news

Researchers find a way to reverse antibiotic resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers from Sweden, France, Belgium and Switzerland has found a way to reverse resistance to an antibiotic drug used to treat tuberculosis. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes how they screened compounds that activated different pathways to activate ethionaide, a compound used to treat tuberculosis.

For a modest personality trait, 'intellectual humility' packs a punch

"Intellectual humility" has been something of a wallflower among personality traits, receiving far less scholarly attention than such brash qualities as egotism or hostility. Yet this little-studied characteristic may influence people's decision-making abilities in politics, health and other arenas, says new research from Duke University.

Untreated sleep apnea in children can harm brain cells tied to cognition and mood

A study comparing children between 7 and 11 years of age who have moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea to children the same age who slept normally, found significant reductions of gray matter - brain cells involved in movement, memory, emotions, speech, perception, decision making and self-control - in several regions of the brains of children with sleep apnea.

New role for immune cells in preventing diabetes and hypertension

Immune cells which are reduced in number by obesity could be a new target to treat diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension that affect overweight people, according to a collaborative study between The University of Manchester, Lund University and the University of Salford.

Diagnostic approach for veterans suffering hearing impairment and related brain injury from mild blast trauma

New research findings suggest mild blast trauma suffered by military personnel affects portions of the auditory system that have not been extensively studied after injuries occur, and this impairment might be diagnosed using well-established testing methods.

Fat cells step in to help liver during fasting

How do mammals keep two biologically crucial metabolites in balance during times when they are feeding, sleeping, and fasting? The answer may require rewriting some textbooks.

Visualizing assemblies of the proteins that direct cyanobacterial circadian rhythms

In finding a way to see assemblies of the proteins that direct cyanobacterial circadian rhythms, or biological clocks, UC Merced biochemistry professor Andy LiWang and his colleagues have done what no one else has been able to, despite more than 15 years of trying.

Scientists create 'beating' human heart muscle for cardiac research

Scientists at The University of Queensland have taken a significant step forward in cardiac disease research by creating a functional 'beating' human heart muscle from stem cells.

Researchers review progress of treating glutamate signalling in depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) impacts 15 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability, yet current treatments possess limited efficacy. Ketamine, which has been repurposed as a rapidly acting antidepressant, has emerged as an experimental and potentially promising compound to treat severe depression through a novel drug action mechanism that blocks glutamate receptors.

New toxic pathway identified for protein aggregates in neurodegenerative disease

Led by professor Ludo Van Den Bosch (VIB-KU Leuven), scientists from Belgium, the UK and the US have identified new processes that form protein "clumps" that are characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). How these proteins, which can bind RNA in normal cells, stick together has remained elusive until recently, when scientists demonstrated that they demix from the watery substance inside cells, much like oil separates from water. Prof. Van Den Bosch's team sheds light onto the molecular interactions behind the process in patients with defects in the C9orf72 gene. Their results are featured on the cover of the leading journal Molecular Cell.

Indigenous South American group has healthiest arteries of all populations yet studied, providing clues to healthy lifes

The Tsimane people - a forager-horticulturalist population of the Bolivian Amazon - have the lowest reported levels of vascular ageing for any population, with coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) being five times less common than in the US, according to a study published in The Lancet and being presented at the American College of Cardiology conference.

New research shows late bilinguals are sensitive to unique aspects of second language

Imagine coming across a sentence in English that reads like this: "Mary apple eats her delicious." For most native-English speakers, the sentence would likely strike you as odd because it doesn't seem to be structured in an order that immediately gets the message across.

Drug against alcoholism works, researchers claim

French researchers provided fresh evidence Friday to support claims that a drug touted as a miracle cure for alcoholism, and prescribed for this purpose in France, actually works.

Women, particularly minorities, do not meet nutrition guidelines shortly before pregnancy

Black, Hispanic and less-educated women consume a less nutritious diet than their well-educated, white counterparts in the weeks leading up to their first pregnancy, according to the only large-scale analysis of preconception adherence to national dietary guidelines.

Degree of spinal deformity affects hip replacement surgery success

People with spinal deformity also requiring a total hip replacement are at greater risk for dislocation or follow-up revision surgery, suggesting that these higher-risk patients may benefit from a more personalized approach to their surgeries to reduce the risk of poorer outcomes.

One in four elderly Australian women have dementia

At least a quarter of Australian women over 70 will develop dementia according to University of Queensland researchers.

Researchers develop new animal model to study rare brain disease

Thanatophoric dysplasia (TD) is an intractable disease causing abnormalities of bones and the brain. In a recent study of ferrets, which have brains similar to those of humans, researchers using a newly developed technique discovered that neuronal translocation along radial glial fibers to the cerebral cortex during fetal brain development is aberrant, suggesting the cause underlying TD.

Stressed out by the news? Nature videos will make you happier

Being out in wild nature has been shown to reduce stress and lift our spirits. But does watching nature documentaries have a similar effect? A study from UC Berkeley and BBC Earth suggests so.

A serious and often overlooked issue for patients with brain diseases—swallowing

Recall that last time you had something "go down the wrong pipe"? You spent the next several minutes coughing, choking and feeling like something bad was in your throat.

Abuse accelerates puberty in children

While it has long been known that maltreatment can affect a child's psychological development, new Penn State research indicates that the stress of abuse can impact the physical growth and maturation of adolescents as well.

Hospital alarms blend together, fail to alert caregivers of emergencies

The failure of hospital caregivers to respond to medical alerts is often attributed to "alarm fatigue"—the idea that nurses or doctors can become desensitized to the nonstop cacophony of beeps that patient-monitoring devices make.

Tackling childhood obesity using structured play times

How important is physical activity in children under 5? It's a question Trish Tucker, a professor in the School of Occupational Therapy, tackles on a daily basis. She's currently involved in a major research project that aims to get young children moving – early and often.

The healing power of fat

A healthy-weight adult can have 30 billion fat cells in his or her body, while someone who is considered obese can carry as many as 300 billion.

PARG inhibitors: tipping the scales with a new experimental drug

When cancer cells divide they often make mistakes which can alter their DNA. While this can give cancer cells an upper hand, it can also be their downfall.

Bladder cancer clinical trial to help patients faced with life-changing decision

A pioneering clinical trial led by scientists at the University of Sheffield will help bladder cancer patients who are faced with a life-changing decision during treatment.

Psychology turns to online crowdsourcing to study the mind, but it's not without its pitfalls

You may not know this, but a great deal of our data about the human mind is based on a relatively small but intensively studied population: first-year undergraduate university students.

Changes in gut microbiota after unhealthy diet may protect from metabolic disease

An unhealthy diet changes the composition of the gut flora and it is generally assumed that this maladaptation called "dysbiosis" triggers disease. A study by Matteo Serino and his colleagues at the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France, now challenges this view. Using mice as a model organism, the researchers show that dysbiosis may have beneficial effects on liver metabolism and may protect against metabolic disease. The study is published today in Molecular Systems Biology.

Repairing stroke‑related spatial neglect—researchers study how prism goggles rewire the brain

A team of researchers at Dalhousie University is making and testing "prism goggles" as a means of helping people recover from the post-stroke phenomenon known as hemi-spatial neglect.

Pharmacist medicines reconciliation reduces patient harm

A pilot study, published today in British Medical Journal Open, demonstrates that medicines reconciliation provided by pharmacists can significantly reduce medicine discrepancies and may be associated with reductions in length of hospital stay and readmission.

Tighten the grip on metastasis

Metastasis is the major cause of cancer-related death and its appearance remains a phenomenon that is difficult to predict and manage. We now know that, prior to the arrival of the cancer cells, tumours prepare the ground in the organ that they will later colonise. These areas with ideal conditions for the onset of metastasis are called pre-metastatic niches and targeting them will help improve patient survival. These questions are the subject of a review paper published in Nature Reviews by an international group of experts in this field, including Héctor Peinado, head of the Microenvironment and Metastasis Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO).

Link between Vitamin D treatment and autism prevention

Giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy prevents autism traits in their offspring, University of Queensland researchers have discovered.

Sexual assault victimization disproportionately affects certain minority college students

Students who perceive that their college campus is more inclusive and welcoming of sexual- and gender-minority people have lower odds of being victims of sexual assault, according to a study led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and published today in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Cholesterol drug cuts heart risks, spurs new debate on cost

A long-acting cholesterol medicine cut the risk of having a heart attack or some other serious problems by 15 to 20 percent in a big study that's likely to spur fresh debate about what drugs should cost.

Measles cases triple in Italy as parents shun vaccine

The number of measles cases in Italy has tripled this year, largely because parents are not getting children vaccinated due to spurious health scares, the health ministry said Friday.

PCSK9 inhibition with bococizumab yields mixed results

In a clinical program that was terminated early, the experimental PCSK9 inhibitor bococizumab, when given on top of effective statin therapy, had widely varying effects on LDL cholesterol levels and had no benefit on cardiovascular events among those with LDL lower than 100 mg/dL. However, in patients at high cardiovascular risk who had baseline LDL of greater than 100 mg/dL, bococizumab significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 21 percent compared with placebo, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

Study suggests new drug alongside statins can significantly cut cholesterol

A new class of cholesterol-lowering drug has been found to help patients cut their risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack.

New study finds people who have high levels of two markers at high risk of adverse heart events

New research suggests that GlycA, a newly identified blood marker, and C-reactive protein both independently predict major adverse cardiac events, including heart failure and death. Patients who have high levels of both biomarkers are at especially high risk.

Skilled workers more prone to mistakes when interrupted

Expertise is clearly beneficial in the workplace, yet highly trained workers in some occupations could actually be at risk for making errors when interrupted, indicates a new study by two Michigan State University psychology researchers.

Evolocumab significantly reduces risk of cardiovascular events

Evolocumab, one of the new targeted PCSK9 inhibitor drugs that has been shown to dramatically lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, also significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with existing heart or vascular disease already on statin therapy, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

Routine blood tests can help measure a patient's future risk for chronic disease, new study finds

A new study by researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City finds that combining information from routine blood tests and age of primary care patients can create a score that measures future risk of chronic disease.

Study: More than half of college football athletes have inadequate levels of vitamin D

More than half of college football athletes participating in the NFL Combine had inadequate levels of vitamin D, and this left them more susceptible to muscle injuries, according to a study at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).

Researchers find patients' annual financial burden under Medicare Part D is 'too much too soon'

Medical advances have offered an increasing number of treatment options to patients with serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer, but these "specialty drugs" often come with a high price tag. A study released today by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania documents the patient out-of-pocket cost burden under Medicare prescription drug plans (known as Medicare Part D) and finds that despite having insurance, Medicare patients using specialty drugs paid thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs in a calendar year. Study authors also propose policy changes that would help patients better predict monthly bills for critical medications. The study appears online today in a special issue of The American Journal of Managed Care and was selected as the runner-up in the 2016 PAN Challenge, which asked researchers to offer "sustainable strategies for providing access to critical medications."

Osteoporosis drug found safe in long-term trial

A new study provides reassuring information about the short-term and long-term safety of denosumab, a monoclonal antibody that is used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Eating for two often doesn't translate into a healthier diet

(HealthDay)—Despite the well-known wisdom of eating a healthy diet while pregnant, new research shows that most American women don't.

Shingles vaccine cuts chronic pain, hospitalizations

(HealthDay)—Vaccination greatly reduces the risk of serious complications from shingles, a new study finds.

Pot-laced goodies can poison a child

(HealthDay)—Cupcakes, brownies and candies containing marijuana can look irresistible to kids—but eating even one treat might poison them, a leading group of U.S. pediatricians warns.

Hyperbaric oxygen Tx beneficial for systemic sclerosis ulcers

(HealthDay)—Adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may be beneficial for treatment of systemic sclerosis (SSc) ulcers, according to a report published online Feb. 23 in the International Journal of Dermatology.

Appeals court upholds restaurant salt warning

(HealthDay)—An Empire State appeals court has upheld the New York City health department rule that requires restaurants to warn customers about menu items that exceed the 2,300 mg daily recommended sodium limit, according to a report from the American Medical Association (AMA).

Care costs lower for practices with more high-needs patients

(HealthDay)—Lower spending and utilization are seen for practices with a higher proportion of high-needs patients, according to a study published in the March issue of Health Affairs.

Experimental stem cell treatment leaves three women blind

An experimental treatment - which blinded three women after stem cells from abdominal fat were injected into their eyes - was advertised on a government-run clinical trial website but lacked proper safeguards, researchers reported Wednesday.

Americans having less sex, new study finds

Americans have been saying more often: Honey, not tonight.

New 'gene silencer' drug reduce cholesterol by over 50 percent

The findings come from the largest trial yet to test the safety and effectiveness of this kind of therapy. The technique, known as RNA interference (RNAi) therapy, essentially 'switches off' one of the genes responsible for elevated cholesterol.

Moderate exercise may be beneficial for HCM patients

As one of the most common causes of sudden cardiac death in young people, a diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can push patients into sedentary lifestyles.

Support people with asthma to manage their illness, researchers say

People with asthma should be given tailored support to help them manage their condition, experts say.

New study finds antithrombotic therapy has no benefit for low-risk atrial fibrillation patients

Findings from a large, community-based study show that antithrombotic therapy doesn't decrease low-risk atrial fibrillation patients' risk of suffering a stroke within five years. In fact, researchers found that low-risk patients fared better without any antithrombotic therapy.

Atrial fibrillation patients may safely discontinue blood thinners after successful ablation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular complications, and it is estimated to afflict nearly three million Americans. For patients with persistent AF or those who are at high risk for recurring AF, catheter ablation—a minimally invasive procedure in which the areas of the heart causing the irregularity are cauterized—is recommended, followed most often by continued use of blood thinners, regardless of whether the ablation procedure was effective. However, little is known about the actual need for these drugs following a successful ablation. In new study presented today at the American College of Cardiology 66th Annual Scientific Session, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found that patients with persistent AF, who are successfully treated with ablation many, in fact, no longer need blood thinners.

Study of ASU football team produces largest known dataset for concussion diagnostics

Following a three-year study of the Arizona State University football program, researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have created the largest dataset to date of extracellular small RNAs, which are potential biomarkers for diagnosing medical conditions, including concussions.

Video games linked to sexism in teenagers: study

The more time a teenage spends on video gaming, the likelier he or she is to display sexist attitudes and gender stereotypes, a study of thousands of French gaming aficionados has found.

Patients have high confidence in self-testing INR

(HealthDay)—Most patients have high confidence in self-testing their international normalized ratio (INR), according to a study published online Feb. 23 in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

ACE inhibitors, ARBs may slow percent emphysema progression

(HealthDay)—Use of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) is associated with slowed progression of percent emphysema on chest computed tomography (CT), according to a study published online Feb. 16 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Initiation of renal replacement therapy impacts HRQoL

(HealthDay)—The initiation of renal replacement therapy (RRT) impacts health-related quality of life (HRQL) among patients with end-stage kidney disease, according to a study published online Feb. 27 in the Journal of Renal Care.

Video helps patients meet radiotherapy educational needs

(HealthDay)—Educational videos augmented by three-dimensional (3D) visualization software are useful for addressing radiotherapy patients' educational needs, according to a study published online Feb. 27 in the Journal of Medical Radiation Sciences.

Tocilizumab useful for uveitis in juvenile idiopathic arthritis

(HealthDay)—For patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)-associated uveitis refractory to anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy, tocilizumab (TCZ) is beneficial, yielding improvement in all ocular parameters, according to a study published in the March issue of Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Shorter length of stay tied to earlier readmission for seniors

(HealthDay)—For older patients discharged from the hospital to post-acute care (PAC) facilities, shorter length of hospital stay is associated with earlier readmission, according to a study published online March 3 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

First global guidance for HPV vaccination for cervical cancer prevention

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today issued a clinical practice guideline on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for the prevention of cervical cancer. This is the first guideline on primary prevention of cervical cancer that is tailored to multiple regions of the world with different levels of socio-economic and structural resource settings, offering evidence-based guidance to health care providers worldwide.

Palliative care consults for advanced cancer patients reduces hospitalization and improves care

Cancer patients admitted to the hospital with advanced stages of disease who were referred early to palliative care had decreased health care utilization and increased use of support services following discharge, according to a new study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Published today in the Journal of Oncology Practice, the study also determined that a systemized process of referrals resulted in significant improvements in 30-day readmission rates, hospice referral, and receipt of chemotherapy after discharge in patients with advanced cancers. This is the first study to demonstrate that among advanced cancer patients admitted to an inpatient oncology service, standardized use of triggers for palliative care consultation is associated with substantial improvement on multiple quality measures.

Drosophila effectively models human genes responsible for genetic kidney diseases

The majority of genes associated with nephrotic syndrome (NS) in humans also play pivotal roles in Drosophila renal function, a conservation of function across species that validates transgenic flies as ideal pre-clinical models to improve understanding of human disease, a Children's National Health System research team reports in a recent issue of Human Molecular Genetics.

Allen Cell Types Database updated with new data and models

The Allen Institute for Brain Science has released additional data and computer models of cell activity for inclusion in the Allen Cell Types Database: a publicly available tool for researchers to explore and understand the building blocks of the brain.

A new model of community-based group pregnancy care for refugee women

A new model of community-based group pregnancy care and information, the 'Healthy Happy Beginnings' program, has been developed for Karen women from Burma to help them feel empowered and more confident during pregnancy, childbirth and the months after.

Sky-high drug prices for rare diseases show why Orphan Drug Act needs reform

When Marathon Pharmaceuticals announced in February it would market a drug for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy for US$89,000 a year, the negative reaction was so intense that the company immediately suspended the rollout. (On Thursday, March 16, Marathon announced it was selling the drug to PTC Therapuetics for US$140 million in cash and stock, plus a one-time payment of $50 million if sales reach a certain milestone). Even the industry's trade group cried foul.

Opinion: End-of-life choices—the most personal decision of all

Es It took thirteen days for Terri Schiavo to die after the doctors took out her feeding tube. For fifteen years, this 41-year-old woman from Florida had lain in a vegetative state after cardiac arrest and brain damage. Her death in late March 2005 was preceded by a bitter dispute. Her husband wanted to let her die, but her parents fought for her to be kept alive. Both sides claimed they were acting in her best interests. The Schiavo case went through the US courts, was debated by politicians, and attained considerable worldwide attention. It is regarded today as a tragic example of the complexity that such situations can take on – especially when the person actually affected cannot express an opinion.

Self-expanding TAVR as good as surgery in intermediate-risk patients

Two-year data reveal no difference in the combined rate of stroke and death from any cause when comparing the use of self-expanding transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) with standard open-heart surgery in intermediate risk patients with severe aortic stenosis, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session. Researchers say these results suggest TAVR, which involves threading a replacement valve through a catheter in the groin or chest, is at least as safe and effective as surgery in these patients.

Biology news

For biologists studying tiny worms, new technologies make big improvements

For decades, the tiny roundworm C. elegans has been a vital tool in the biomedical researcher's toolkit, proving central to groundbreaking discoveries such as green fluorescent protein, the molecular marker used universally across research labs. Now, scientists in the laboratories of Shai Shaham and Eric D. Siggia at Rockefeller University are pushing the envelope even further on what C. elegans can teach us. They are developing technologies to study new aspects of how organs and nervous systems develop in these useful creatures.

Barn swallow behavior shift may be evolutionary

Most of our understanding about evolutionary changes and the formation of new animal species is based on the historical record. But a relatively new population of barn swallows in Argentina may help scientists see those changes firsthand.

A new toolkit for rapid bacterial detection

Finding the right treatment plan for patients who have antibiotic-resistant infections is a costly and time-consuming effort. For doctors in rural areas or developing countries, there often is no source of electricity nearby or sterile lab conditions with microbiology specialists on hand. The current standard for bacterial identification is to isolate and grow the species in an assay, which can take hours to weeks.

Green beer highlights the science behind the brew

Working with Scottish Bioenergy, the team found that by limiting all other wavelengths, the algae – known more commonly as Spirulina – will start to mass-produce the blue pigment when exposed to long wavelength red light.

Chimp filmed cleaning dead son's teeth

(—A trio of researchers from the U.K., the Netherlands and the U.S. has filmed a grown female chimpanzee cleaning her son's teeth after he died. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, Edwin van Leeuwen, Katherine Cronin and Daniel Haun offer a description of the circumstances under which they shot the video and their ideas on why the female was behaving the way she was.

First steps in human DNA replication dance captured at atomic resolution

It's a good thing we don't have to think about putting all the necessary pieces in place when one of our trillions of cells needs to duplicate its DNA and then divide to produce identical daughter cells.

Human brain networks developing in adolescence related to evolutionary expansion

Adolescence marks not only the period of physical maturation bridging childhood and adulthood, but also a crucial period for remodeling of the human brain. A Penn study reveals new patterns of coordinated development in the outer layer of the cerebrum of the human brain and describes how these structural patterns relate to functional networks.

Study IDs link between sugar signaling and regulation of oil production in plants

Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they're known for converting solar energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars, plants have sophisticated biochemical mechanisms for regulating how they spend that energy. Making oils costs a lot.

For female mosquitoes, two sets of odor sensors are better than one

Biologists who study the malaria mosquito's 'nose' have found that it contains a secondary set of odor sensors that seem to be specially tuned to detect humans. The discovery could aid efforts to figure out how the insects target humans and develop a preference for them.

One of last vaquita porpoises found dead in Mexico

Environmentalists said they have found the body of a baby vaquita marina porpoise, one of the last of its kind, washed up dead in northern Mexico.

Detroit Zoo's own Dr. Ruth encourages amorous amphibians

Dr. Ruth is bringing her sex-pertise to the Detroit Zoo.

Rare monk seal dies in fish farm off Hawaii

An endangered Hawaiian monk seal has died after wandering into a net pen and becoming trapped at a fish farm that was partially funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Hawaii.

Research could lead to corn crop varieties that can fight off sugarcane mosaic virus

An Iowa State University agronomist has contributed to research identifying a corn gene that resists a virus that has caused substantial yield losses in most corn-cultivating countries.

Researcher studies impact of climate change, deforestation in Namibia

A Virginia Tech graduate student is living in one of the hottest and driest countries in the world this semester so that he can study how climate change, land management, and other human-caused phenomena impact a community of animals known as the cavity guild.

Scientists reveal open-ringed structure of Cdt1-Mcm2-7 complex

Scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology(HKUST) and Tsinghua University have revealed the open-ringed structure of the Cdt1-Mcm2-7 complex as a precursor of the MCM double hexamer (DH).

Biotech firm carves a large niche in tools for research

More than 600,000 times, researchers have cited Bio-Techne Corp. in academic papers as a manufacturer of tools that helped in their search for new tests and treatments.

Highly contagious infection threatens endangered San Joaquin kit fox population

Endangered San Joaquin kit foxes face many threats to their survival, including loss of habitat and competition with non-native species such as the red fox. Now, scientists are rushing to save remaining fragile populations from a new danger - sarcoptic mange, a skin disease caused by mites.

Alaska sea lion study gets help from crowdsource volunteers

A federal wildlife agency studying the Steller sea lion decline in Alaska's Aleutian Islands is looking for help from citizen scientists. Volunteers don't need raincoats or rubber boots to pitch in, just eyeballs and a computer screen.

Study shows wildfire does not damage barbed wire

Don't assume that a grass fire has damaged the barbed wire on a fence.

Researchers developing next-generation sanitisers to control bovine mastitis in the dairy industry

Researchers from the Universities of Otago and Auckland have teamed up with a leading New Zealand animal health innovator, Deosan, to develop new sanitisers for mastitis management. The development and implementation of new sanitisers will continue to enhance New Zealand's position as a global leader in milk quality by improving performance in mastitis prevention and guard against the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Rare butterfly killer convicted in Britain

A British man has been convicted of capturing and killing two of Britain's rarest butterflies, the endangered Large Blues, which have been a prized collector's item since the Victorian era.

UN body urges China to act as bird flu deaths spike

The UN's food agency on Friday urged China to step up efforts to contain and eliminate a strain of bird flu which has killed scores of people this year.

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