Thursday, March 9, 2017

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Mar 9

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Two new tidal disruption events discovered

IBM researchers create world's smallest magnet

Evidence found of ostriches in India 25,000 years ago

Study shows conservatives less likely to apologize than liberals

Is Qualcomm, Microsoft collaboration a sign of less Intel dominance to come?

Don't expect SpaceX-NASA space race

NASA's Kepler provides another peek at ultra-cool neighbor

Computer models could allow researchers to better understand, predict adverse drug reactions

Lasers can detect weapons-grade uranium from afar

Petrol and jet fuel alternatives are produced by yeast cell factories

Chemists can rapidly purify wastewater with sunlight

Sandia creates 3-D metasurfaces with optical possibilities

Dawkins' fabled cooperative gene discovered in microbes

Research chemists develop lighter, field repairable transparent armor

Rabbits' detached retina 'glued' with new hydrogel

Astronomy & Space news

Two new tidal disruption events discovered

In two recently published scientific papers, an international team of astronomers has presented the detection of two new tidal disruption events (TDEs). Using the Palomar Observatory located near San Diego, California, the researchers discovered flares of radiation which turned out to be TDEs. Their findings were described in papers published online March 2 and 3 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Don't expect SpaceX-NASA space race

SpaceX, the upstart company, and NASA, the government agency, both have plans to venture to Mars and orbit the moon. But that doesn't mean they've launched a new space race.

NASA's Kepler provides another peek at ultra-cool neighbor

On Feb. 22, astronomers announced that the ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, hosts a total of seven Earth-size planets that are likely rocky, a discovery made by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope in combination with ground-based telescopes. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also has been observing this star since December 2016. Today these additional data about TRAPPIST-1 from Kepler are available to the scientific community.

Could fast radio bursts be powering alien probes?

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has looked for many different signs of alien life, from radio broadcasts to laser flashes, without success. However, newly published research suggests that mysterious phenomena called fast radio bursts could be evidence of advanced alien technology. Specifically, these bursts might be leakage from planet-sized transmitters powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies.

Hubble dates black hole's last big meal

For the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it's been a long time between dinners. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found that the black hole ate its last big meal about 6 million years ago, when it consumed a large clump of infalling gas. After the meal, the engorged black hole burped out a colossal bubble of gas weighing the equivalent of millions of suns, which now billows above and below our galaxy's center.

New NASA radar technique finds lost lunar spacecraft

Finding derelict spacecraft and space debris in Earth's orbit can be a technological challenge. Detecting these objects in orbit around Earth's moon is even more difficult. Optical telescopes are unable to search for small objects hidden in the bright glare of the moon. However, a new technological application of interplanetary radar pioneered by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has successfully located spacecraft orbiting the moon—one active, and one dormant. This new technique could assist planners of future moon missions.

Experiment aboard space station studies 'space weather'

The weather here on Earth has been a little strange this winter – 60-degree days, followed by blinding snow, only to be followed by 50s and rain – but for Steven Powell, the weather he's interested in can't be felt by humans or measured by barometric pressure.

Report: China developing advanced lunar mission spaceship

China is developing an advanced new spaceship capable of both flying in low-Earth orbit and landing on the moon, according to state media, in another bold step for a space program that equaled the U.S. in number of rocket launches last year.

New technologies for astronomical research

The "Novel Astronomical Instrumentation through Photonic Reformatting" (NAIR) project is being funded by the DFG within the "New Instrumentation for Research" call for proposals. The project is being supported by the Königstuhl State Observatory of the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University, the Institute of Physics I of the University of Cologne, and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam. The researchers in Heidelberg, Cologne and Potsdam will design and test components that can efficiently rearrange the light of stars and galaxies to enable high-precision measurements of cosmic objects. This new technology is targeted for use on large telescopes in order to, for example, search for earth-like planets of nearby stars and determine their atmospheric composition.

Studying magnetic space explosions with NASA missions

Every day, invisible magnetic explosions are happening around Earth, on the surface of the sun and across the universe. These explosions, known as magnetic reconnection, occur when magnetic field lines cross, releasing stored magnetic energy. Such explosions are a key way that clouds of charged particles—plasmas—are accelerated throughout the universe. In Earth's magnetosphere—the giant magnetic bubble surrounding our planet—these magnetic reconnections can fling charged particles toward Earth, triggering auroras.

Keeping liquids off the wall

On Earth, liquid flows downhill thanks to gravity. Creating an effective liquid fuel tank involves little more than putting a hole at the bottom of a container.

Technology news

Is Qualcomm, Microsoft collaboration a sign of less Intel dominance to come?

Judging from technology-watching sites, Intel has something to worry about and it involves a rather well known place on the technology map called Redmond, Washington. Look for the sign that says Microsoft. There.

Study examines 200 real-world 'zero-day' software vulnerabilities

Zero-day software vulnerabilities - security holes that developers haven't fixed or aren't aware of - can lurk undetected for years, leaving software users particularly susceptible to hackers. A new study from the RAND Corporation, based on rare access to a dataset of more than 200 such vulnerabilities, provides insights about what entities should do when they discover them.

Internet-connected 'smart' devices are dunces about security

These days, it's possible to use your phone—and sometimes just your voice—to control everything from your TV to your lights, your thermostat and shades, even your car or medical device. (At least, once you have gadgets that can listen.)

Uber vows not to trick regulators with 'Greyball' tool

Uber on Wednesday promised not to use a recently uncovered "Greyball" software program to trick regulators trying to catch drivers breaking the law.

CIA blasts WikiLeaks for publishing secret documents

The Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday accused WikiLeaks of endangering Americans, helping US rivals and hampering the fight against terror threats by releasing what the anti-secrecy site claimed was a trove of CIA hacking tools.

More companies embrace virtual annual shareholder meetings

Two years ago, SurModics Inc. conducted its annual meeting and only four shareholders showed up.

Engineers devise two-way radio on a single chip

Two-way communication requires, of course, both send and receive capabilities. But putting them in the same device requires a filter between the send and receive circuits to provide signal isolation.

Lab team to explore more cost-effective way to inspect welds on nuclear-powered submarines

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers are joining forces with the U.S. Navy Metalworking Center (NMC) to study ways to reduce the high cost of inspecting welds on nuclear-powered submarines.

The WikiLeaks CIA release—when will we learn?

This week's WikiLeaks release of what is apparently a trove of Central Intelligence Agency information related to its computer hacking should surprise no one: Despite its complaints of being targeted by cyberattackers from other countries, the U.S. does a fair amount of its own hacking. Multiple federal agencies are involved, including the CIA and the National Security Agency, and even friendly nations. These latest disclosures also remind us of the cybersecurity truism that any electronic device connected to a network can be hacked.

Smart flavored-beverage machines are persuading consumers nationwide to ditch their plastic bottles

MIT spinout Bevi believes it can cut the world's use of bottled drinks with a smart beverage machine of the same name that delivers high quality, flavored water—straight from the tap.

Safe navigation on construction sites

Automated vehicles have to be able to reliably detect traffic signs. Previous systems, however, have had problems in understanding complex traffic management with different information about speed or the course of the lanes, as mainly occurs on construction sites. Fraunhofer researchers are developing technologies for the real-time interpretation of such signs, which they will present at the CeBIT in Hanover from March 20 to 24, 2017 (Hall 6, Booth B36).

Digital publishing pays off for Axel Springer

German media group Axel Springer said Thursday its digital publishing empire would bring further increases in sales and profits in 2017, after meeting its forecasts last year.

Research improves solar cell performance

The team at SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre at Swansea University's College of Engineering investigated Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 (CZTS) which is based on Earth-abundant-elements, has shown great potential as an alternative to conventional Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) in solar cells. The power conversion efficiency of CZTS-based solar cells has reached 12.7%, but there is still room for improvement to compete with the 22.3% record of CIGS technologies.

Artificial intelligence and robots to make offshore windfarms safer and cheaper

The University of Manchester is leading a consortium to investigate advanced technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence, for the operation and maintenance of offshore windfarms.

Staying a heartbeat ahead of hackers

Nearly a million new forms of malware are unleashed on the world every day. Manufacturers of software for smartphones, laptops and security cameras, as well as banks, retailers and government agencies, release upgrades frequently to try to protect customers and assets.

Iran and Middle East could adopt fully renewable electricity systems

Iran can transition to a fully renewable electricity system and financially benefit from it by 2030. Researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) show that major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could turn their abundant renewable energy resources into lucrative business opportunities in less than two decades.

Assange says leaks show CIA's 'devastating incompetence'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday accused the CIA of "devastating incompetence" for failing to protect its hacking secrets and said he would work with tech companies to develop fixes for them.

'Pokemon Go' or no? Fans glad Niantic addressing complaints

Few games have enjoyed both the meteoric rise—and subsequent fall—in popularity as "Pokemon Go."

Baidu CEO defends state support of Chinese firms

State support for private firms is crucial in China's market, the head of the mainland's online search giant Baidu said Thursday, following complaints from European businesses that Beijing-backed firms are pushing out foreign competitors.

Pakistan threatens to block social media over 'blasphemy'

A Pakistani court has ordered the government to open an investigation into online "blasphemy", threatening to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content deemed insulting to Islam, lawyers said Thursday.

China's Didi launches Silicon Valley research hub

Chinese ridesharing leader Didi Chuxing has opened a Silicon Valley research hub, where it will join the race with other tech companies for autonomous driving.

Dutch law enforcers access millions of encrypted messages

Dutch police and prosecutors investigating underworld slayings say they have accessed data on computer servers containing millions of encrypted messages between members of organized crime gangs.

Airbnb valued at $31 billion in new funding round

Airbnb raised more than a billion dollars in a fresh funding round that valued the home-sharing startup at $31 billion, a source close to the company told AFP Thursday.

FCC probing AT&T's Wednesday night 911 outage

The Federal Communications Commission says it is investigating why AT&T cellphone customers were unable to call 911 in several states on Wednesday night.

Medicine & Health news

Brain hardwired to respond to others' itching

Some behaviors—yawning and scratching, for example—are socially contagious, meaning if one person does it, others are likely to follow suit. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that socially contagious itching is hardwired in the brain.

Cancer immunotherapy: Revived T cells still need fuel

Anti-cancer drugs blocking the PD-1 pathway - known as checkpoint inhibitors - are now FDA-approved for melanoma, lung cancer and several other types of cancer. These drugs are often described as "releasing the brakes" on dysfunctional T cells.

Greater insight into basic biology of pain will reveal non-addictive remedies

The U.S. medical community needs a better understanding of the biology of pain and how it plays out in individuals to be able to combat the national epidemic of addiction to painkillers, according to researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in Science this week.

Brain is 10 times more active than previously measured, researchers find

A new UCLA study could change scientists' understanding of how the brain works—and could lead to new approaches for treating neurological disorders and for developing computers that "think" more like humans.

'Stepping Up' model of care improves uptake of type 2 diabetes treatment

A new model of healthcare that focuses on a stronger role for nurses in primary care has been associated with a higher uptake of insulin treatment among patients with type 2 diabetes, reports a study published in The BMJ today.

Updated epilepsy classification may lead to advances in diagnosis, treatment, and research

It has been nearly three decades since experts published a classification system related to epilepsy. Now, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) provides an update to systems that includes many types of seizures not captured in the older version, allowing clinicians and patients to make more informed decisions concerning treatment. The three companion articles are published today in Epilepsia.

New indicators to aid Crohn's disease diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis, understanding and management of Crohn's disease may have just received a helping hand from a joint ASU Biodesign Institute and Mayo Clinic study aimed at developing a better blood test for the disease.

Experts call for increased efforts to prevent cancer

That the first public health revolution occurred more than a century ago might surprise people, according to some historians. Before the discovery of penicillin or the polio vaccine, life expectancy improved dramatically because of relatively simple ideas implemented on a massive scale, including improved sanitation, safer food storage and quarantines to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Online tools better for treating obesity in those who have serious mental illness

Online weight management tools and weekly peer coaching resulted in greater weight loss for people with serious mental illness than when they visited health professionals in person in clinics, according to a new study led by Dr. Alexander Young, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA.

Can appendicitis be treated solely with medication?

For 130 years, surgery has been the standard treatment for appendicitis—inflammation of the appendix, a short tube extending from the colon.

If men are favored in our society, why do they die younger than women?

Women experience higher stress, more chronic disease, more depression, more anxiety and are more likely to be victims of violence. Women earn less than men, and in many countries they don't have the same human rights as men.

Aging in place could save money, benefit health outcomes in public housing for the elderly

Training service coordinators in low-income public housing to better assist aging residents could not only improve community members' health outcomes but also save the government money in hospital visits, nursing home stays and rehabilitation costs, according to an article by researchers at the University of Georgia published recently in the Journal of Housing for the Elderly.

Researchers develop low-cost test to evaluate muscle health

A new, non-invasive test developed by researchers at the University of Georgia shows how exercise can help people with neurological injuries and illnesses.

Virtual puppets developed by kinetic imaging professor help older adults feel more comfortable telling their stories

Semi Ryu had performed "Parting on Z"—her play about a farewell between lovers—a couple of times before that 2013 night in London. Ryu doesn't know what made this performance different, but something unexpected happened: She found herself sobbing in the middle of it.

'Google Earth' for tumours could change cancer diagnostics and drug testing forever

Think of a tumour like a rapidly growing city within a patient's body.

Daylight saving time—why some have a hard time making the switch

For the most part, adjusting our clocks an hour ahead—as we will do this weekend—comes as good news: it is a welcome change from the long, dark winter.

Overhaul of US drug policy is long overdue, expert says

A new report from the Office of the Surgeon General, "Facing Addiction in America," suggests that an overhaul of U.S. drug policy is long overdue, according to a new issue brief from a drug policy expert at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Eyes hold clues to future narrowing of leg vessels

Changes in tiny blood vessels of the eye may predict a higher risk of later narrowing in the large blood vessels in the legs, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions.

Caffeine reduces oxidative stress, improves oxygen-induced lung injury

A new study finds that caffeine may protect the lungs from damage caused by prolonged oxygen therapy, such as oxygen supplementation given to premature babies. The article is the first of its kind to study the positive effects of caffeine on the lungs' minute tissue structures. It is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

Children with ADHD often live in chaotic households

Researchers often observe inadequate parenting, a negative emotional climate and household chaos in families of children with ADHD. A research group at Goethe University Frankfurt and the universities of Bremen, Heidelberg, Tübingen and Kiel has now explored how these factors interrelate. The result is astounding.

Dealing with cyberbullying is everyone's responsibility

Victoria University of Wellington research shows that for New Zealand to combat its high cyberbullying rates, everyone needs to take responsibility: from teachers to school management and Government organisations.

People see through bosses who fake it

Previous research has shown that suppressing your emotions can result in increased stress, burnout and poor relationships. However, there has been very little research into how managers regulate their emotions – until now.

Medications with cosmetic benefits

Good genes only go so far in resisting aging. For those who want to up their arsenal of beauty boosters, there is a range of over-the counter and prescription medications available to fight skin redness, wrinkles and other beauty battles. Researching why the products were manufactured—and how they work—is important to selecting the best option for you.

Growing new bone for more effective injury repair

Broken bones do not always repair fully, especially after major trauma such as a car accident. Complications can occur when the bone is broken in several places, the blood flow is reduced or infection sets in. Patients can suffer long-term from loss of income and disability.

Asthmatics less able to fight off flu

People with asthma are likely to have worse symptoms when they get the flu because they have weaker immune systems, new Southampton research has shown..

Volunteers are in better health than non-volunteers

Researchers of Ghent University analysed data on volunteering, employment and health of more than 40,000 European citizens. Their results, just published in PLOS ONE, show that volunteering is associated with better employment and health outcomes.

Genetic sequencing offers same-day TB testing

Researchers have for the first time shown that standard tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic tests can be replaced by a sub-24 hour genetic test applied to the TB bacteria in a patient's sputum.

Doctors: Radiation not biggest impact on Fukushima health

A total of 185 cases of thyroid cancer found in youngsters in the Japanese region hit by the 2011 nuclear disaster cannot be linked to radiation, which is not the biggest cause of health problems for residents, doctors said Thursday.

'World's heaviest woman' has surgery in India, loses 100 kgs

Indian doctors said Thursday that an Egyptian who is believed to be the world's heaviest woman had successfully undergone weight-loss surgery after losing over 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

'Electric hum' technology opening window on cancer treatment

Cancer survival rates plummet when the disease spreads around the body. An estimated 90 % of cancer deaths are caused when tumours enter other organs or tissues, according to researchers.

Scientists reveal structure of potential leishmaniasis vaccine

Leishmaniasis, caused by the bite of a sand fly carrying a Leishmania parasite, infects around a million people a year around the world. Now, making progress toward a vaccine against the parasitic disease, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have characterized the structure of a protein from sand flies that can convey immunity to Leishmania.

Chronic comorbidities raise hospitalization risk in dementia

Most community-dwelling older adults with dementia have multiple other chronic diseases, which are linked to increased risk of hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits, a new retrospective study has concluded. The study, by Luke Mondor and Colleen Maxwell of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Canada, and colleagues, is published in PLOS Medicine's Special Issue on Dementia.

Hair loss and prostate drug linked to persistent erectile dysfunction in men

Men with longer exposure to the drugs finasteride and dutasteride had a higher risk of getting persistent erectile dysfunction than men with less exposure, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. The persistent erectile dysfunction continued despite stopping these drugs, in some cases for months or years.

Neuroscientists pinpoint key gene controlling tumor growth in brain cancers

Cedars-Sinai investigators have identified a stem cell-regulating gene that affects tumor growth in patients with brain cancer and can strongly influence survival rates of patients. The findings, published in the online edition of Scientific Reports, could move physicians closer to their goal of better predicting the prognosis of patients with brain tumors and developing more personalized treatments for them.

Cannabis use in people with epilepsy revealed: Australian survey

People with epilepsy resort to cannabis products when antiepileptic drug side-effects are intolerable and epilepsy uncontrolled.

Researchers uncover new agents

Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered three new agents to add to the emerging repertoire of drugs that aim to delay the onset of aging by targeting senescent cells - cells that contribute to frailty and other age-related conditions. A recent study of human cell cultures shows that the drugs, fisetin and two BCL-XL inhibitors - A1331852 and A1155463 - cleared senescent cells in vitro. Findings appear online in Aging.

People who trust their doctor tend to feel better

Confidence in doctors, therapists and nursing staff leads to an improvement in subjectively perceived complaints, satisfaction and quality of life in patients. This is the conclusion of a meta-analysis by psychologists at the University of Basel, published in the journal PLOS ONE.

New 3-D technology improving patient care for complex kidney surgeries

If you were asked to describe the shape of a kidney, you may visualize a kidney bean. But Wes Nance's kidneys had a different shape, plus they were positioned atypically inside his body—plus, he had roughly a dozen painful kidney stones.

New England Journal of Medicine publishes long-term results of Gleevec for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia

In 2001 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted priority review for imatinib mesylate, sold under the name Gleevec, as an oral therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML.

Beyond a reasonable doubt? Study reveals how eyewitness testimonies go wrong

Eyewitnesses identify more than 75,000 suspects each year in the United States and their testimonies are one of the most compelling and powerful forms of evidence for a jury. But, it's not foolproof—just ask the 242 individuals who were mistakenly identified by eyewitnesses and served years in prison for crimes they did not commit until they were exonerated thanks to the introduction of DNA testing.

Men with impaired glucose metabolism should avoid high-carbohydrate foods in the evening

According to a nutrition study led by the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE), a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research, the so-called internal clock also influences how people with impaired glucose metabolism react to carbohydrate-rich food. For example, in men with prediabetes, abundant consumption of foods containing starch and sugar in the evening had a negative effect on their blood glucose regulation. In comparison, in healthy study participants the timing of carbohydrate intake did not play a significant role in blood glucose regulation.

Opioids before surgery means higher costs, more problems afterward, study finds

Surgery patients often go home from the hospital with a prescription for painkillers to take as they recover.

Hormonal contraceptives and hair dyes increase breast cancer risk

In her recent doctoral dissertation, researcher Sanna Heikkinen from the University of Helsinki and Finnish Cancer Registry evaluates the contribution of the use of hormonal contraceptives and hair dyes to the spectrum of breast cancer risk factors.

Scientists find therapeutic target for diabetes-related blindness

Specific cells in the retina trigger inflammation and vision impairment associated with diabetes, according to new research out of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The findings unexpectedly implicate Mueller cells—which provide structural support in the retina—as key drivers of the process. Researchers now have a therapeutic target in hand and understand initial steps of diabetic retinopathy, one of the most common and debilitating side effects of diabetes.

Health agencies need clear rules for disclosing foodborne illness outbreaks

There's an ongoing debate among public health officials about how quickly they should notify the public about foodborne illness outbreaks, and how much information should be shared. Is it better to tell people as early as possible, or could that create panic that is counterproductive?

Canada continues to punch above its weight in the field of regenerative medicine

A new workshop report, Building on Canada's Strengths in Regenerative Medicine, released today by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), confirms that Canadian researchers continue to be recognized as scientific leaders in the field of regenerative medicine and stem cell science.

Innovative technique greatly increases sensitivity of DNA sequencing

OICR researchers, together with international collaborators, have invented a technique to avoid a major problem with common laboratory techniques and improve the sensitivity of important cancer tests.

Medicare prescription drug benefit reduced elderly mortality by more than 2 percent

A new paper co-written by a University of Illinois expert in health care economics provides the first evidence that the increase in drug utilization attributable to Medicare Part D saved lives.

Bilateral tinnitus is hereditary

Researchers have been able to demonstrate the hereditary nature of certain forms of tinnitus. Bilateral tinnitus - that is, tinnitus in both ears - has been shown to depend on genetic factors, particularly in men. The twin study, which is published in the journal Genetics in Medicine, was conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet together with colleagues from the European research network TINNET.

Songs that make robots cry

Music, more than any art, is a beautiful mix of science and emotion. It follows a set of patterns almost mathematically to extract feelings from its audience. Machines that make music focus on these patterns, but give little consideration to the emotional response of their audience. An international research team led by Osaka University together with Tokyo Metropolitan University, imec in Belgium and Crimson Technology has released a new machine-learning device that detects the emotional state of its listeners to produce new songs that elicit new feelings.

Free lung-cancer screening in the Augusta area finds more than double the cancer rate of previous screenings

The first year of free lung cancer screening in the Augusta, Georgia area found more than double the rate seen in a previous large, national study as well as a Massachusetts-based screening for this number one cancer killer.

The researchers discovered an unexpected link between cancer and autism

Researchers from Turku Centre for Biotechnology have observed that a protein called SHANK prevents the spread of breast cancer cells to the surrounding tissue. The SHANK protein has been previously studied only in the central nervous system, and it is known that its absence or gene mutations are related to autism. The research was conducted at Turku Centre for Biotechnology.

Pelvic fractures may increase older adults' risk of dying early

Adults older than 60 years face an increased risk of dying in the first 8 months following a pelvic fracture, new research indicates.

Study helps explain how zebrafish recover from blinding injuries

Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee have discovered that in zebrafish, decreased levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) cue the retina, the light-sensing tissue in the back of the eye, to produce stem cells. The finding sheds light on how the zebrafish regenerates its retina after injury and informs efforts to restore vision in people who are blind. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and appears online today in Stem Cell Reports. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Hard choices? Ask your brain's dopamine

Say you're reaching for the fruit cup at a buffet, but at the last second you switch gears and grab a cupcake instead. Emotionally, your decision is a complex stew of guilt and mouth-watering anticipation. But physically it's a simple shift: instead of moving left, your hand went right. Such split-second changes interest neuroscientists because they play a major role in diseases that involve problems with selecting an action, like Parkinson's and drug addiction.

Dopamine neurons factor ambiguity into predictions enabling us to 'win big and win often'

In the struggle of life, evolution rewards animals that master their circumstances, especially when the environment changes fast. If there is a recipe for success, it is not: savor your victories when you are fortunate to have them. Rather it is: win big, and win often.

Researchers hone in on when, where Zika virus attacks

The Zika virus attacks tissues in the nervous system, male and female reproductive and urinary tracts, muscles, joints and lymph nodes, and persists for at least 35 days, according to a study conducted in a nonhuman primate model by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at OHSU in Portland, Oregon.

Social phobia: Indication of a genetic cause

People with social anxiety avoid situations in which they are exposed to judgment by others. Those affected also lead a withdrawn life and maintain contact above all on the Internet. Around one in ten people is affected by this anxiety disorder over the course of their life. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now found evidence for a gene that is believed to be linked to the illness. It encodes a serotonin transporter in the brain. Interestingly, this messenger suppresses feelings of anxiety and depressiveness. The scientists want to investigate this cause more precisely and are thus looking for more study participants. The results will be published in the journal Psychiatric Genetics.

Research may provide solutions for the future treatment of diabetes

Jason Dyck has long believed in the beneficial properties of resveratrol—a powerful antioxidant produced by some plants to protect against environmental stresses. The professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta has spent years studying the natural compound, exploring its potential benefits for exercise performance, reduced blood pressure and heart health. Now his work is revealing resveratrol's potential for the treatment of diabetes.

Low gluten diets may be associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes

Eating more gluten may be associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions.

Scientists identify a key barrier to proliferation of insulin-producing cells

If you become resistant to insulin, a condition that is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, your body tries to compensate by producing more of the "beta" cells in the pancreas that produce the critical hormone. Researchers have long sought to understand why these cells often fail to proliferate in people who go on to develop the disease. Studying both humans and mice, scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center now have pinpointed one key biological mechanism that can prevent the cells from dividing successfully.

Researchers discover how neurons tell each other to die under trauma, disease

A major contributor to most neurological diseases is the degeneration of a wire-like part of nerve cells called an axon, which electrically transmits information from one neuron to another. The molecular programs underlying axon degeneration are therefore important targets for therapeutic intervention - the idea being that if axons can be preserved, rather than allowed to die in diseased conditions, then loss of critical processes like movement, speech or memory will be slowed.

Optimized sensors to study learning and memory

Learning and memory are crucial aspects of everyday life. When we learn, our neurons use chemical and molecular signals to change their shapes and strengthen connections between neurons, a process known as synaptic plasticity. In Ryohei Yasuda's lab at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), scientists are working to understand how these molecules send messages throughout the neuron. To achieve this, his team is constantly working to develop high-resolution imaging techniques to visualize the activity and location of the molecules involved in the process. Ada Tang, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in Yasuda's lab, developed new molecular biosensors, which helped her visualize the activity of two signaling proteins crucial to synaptic plasticity, ERK and PKA. These proteins send messages to other proteins by adding a phosphate group to the target proteins. The team found that these proteins, which were already known to play a role in synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory, have surprising properties in their activity. The work was published in March 2017 in Neuron.

Conformity is not a universal indicator of intelligence in children, study says

Because innovation is part of the American culture, adults in the United States may be less likely to associate children's conformity with intelligence than adults from other populations, according to research from developmental psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin.

Targeting cancer stem cells improves treatment effectiveness and prevents metastasis

Targeting cancer stem cells may be a more effective way to overcome cancer resistance and prevent the spread of squamous cell carcinoma—the most common head and neck cancer and the second-most common skin cancer, according to a new study by cancer researchers at the UCLA School of Dentistry.

Harnessing ADHD for business success

The symptoms of ADHD foster important traits associated with entrepreneurship. That conclusion was reached in a study conducted by an international team of economists, who found that entrepreneurs with ADHD embrace new experiences and demonstrate passion and persistence. Their intuitive decision making in situations involving uncertainty was seen by the researchers as a reason for reassessing existing economic models.

Ammonia's role in cardiovascular health tracked in mice, human cells

Coronary artery disease is caused by plaque buildup in the vessels that deliver blood to the heart. Narrowed or blocked coronary arteries can result in a heart attack or sudden cardiac death. A study at the University of Missouri School of Medicine revealed that ammonia plays an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Researchers say that non-toxic amounts of the gas could help prevent coronary artery disease.

Potential drug candidates halt prostate and breast cancer growth

March 9, 2017 - Scientists on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have designed two new drug candidates to target prostate and triple negative breast cancers.

Experts release guidelines for evaluating, managing syncope

The American College of Cardiology, with the American Heart Association and the Heart Rhythm Society, today released a guideline on the evaluation and management of patients with syncope. The 2017 ACC/AHA/HRS Guideline for the Evaluation and Management of Syncope will publish online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Circulation and HeartRhythm.

Flame retardant chemicals may affect social behavior in young children

Some chemicals added to furniture, electronics and numerous other goods to prevent fires may have unintended developmental consequences for young children, according to a pilot study released today.

Researchers clarify chemo resistance, and perhaps a new therapy

Mayo Clinic scientists have identified a specific protein implicated in drug resistance, as well as a possible therapeutic tool. Their work appears in the EMBO Journal.

Erectile dysfunction drugs are safe, possibly beneficial after heart attack

Men who filled prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs in the years following a heart attack had a substantially lower risk of dying or being hospitalized for heart failure than men who did not use these drugs, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

Levels of ceramides in the blood help predict cardiovascular events

Measuring concentrations of a class of lipids known as ceramides in the blood may hold the key to helping clinicians identify individuals with suspected coronary heart disease who need treatment or should be followed more closely, according to research scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

Researchers sound alarm over Zika's potentially harmful heart effects

As the Zika virus continues to spread globally, new evidence has emerged about the virus's potentially detrimental effects on the heart, according to data scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

Marijuana use associated with increased risk of stroke, heart failure

Using marijuana raises the risk of stroke and heart failure even after accounting for demographic factors, other health conditions and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and alcohol use, according to research scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

Study describes potential clinical test and treatment for preterm birth

Scientists identified a molecular driver of inflammation that may finally answer a key question about what causes mild systemic prenatal infections to trigger preterm birth.

Early pregnancy awareness may be more effective than promoting alcohol abstinence

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update recommending that women who are pregnant or could become pregnant abstain from alcohol use prompted a Vanderbilt University Medical Center professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and her team to explore the patterns of alcohol use in early pregnancy.

US surgeons remove 6-pound tumor from Gambian girl's mouth

Twelve-year-old Janet Sylva of Gambia wants to be a doctor when she grows up, she says with a broad grin—one that surgeons in New York gave back to her after removing from her mouth one of the largest tumors they'd ever seen.

Thyroid cancer patients opting for non-intervention report lack of support

Patients who choose not to intervene after a diagnosis of thyroid cancer face a challenging path—one that is often defined by a sense of isolation and anxiety, according to a first-of-its-kind study by researchers from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Veteran's Administration in White River Junction, Vermont.

Gene found to cause sudden death in young people

Researchers from Canada, South Africa and Italy have identified a new gene that can lead to sudden death among young people and athletes.

Chemists tackles concussions by bringing new sensor to market

Two Michigan State University chemists are bringing their impact sensors to market. The effective, yet inexpensive, headband sensors can be worn by athletes in a variety of sports who could be at risk of suffering concussions.

Study highlights possible Achilles' heel in key immune memory cells

The capacity for memory isn't exclusive to the brain. The immune system, with its sprawling network of diverse cell types, can recall the pathogens it meets, helping it to swiftly neutralize those intruders upon future encounters.

Primary care as a first-line defense for treating and identifying postpartum depression

Pregnancy and the time after giving birth can be particularly emotional for many women. In fact, when screened in their doctor's office, approximately 13 percent of women respond that they experience depression during those times. Low-income women are particularly vulnerable. A study in 2010 showed that more than half of urban, low-income women would meet the criteria for a depression diagnosis when screened between two weeks to 14 months postpartum.

Novel antibiotic combination therapy overcomes deadly drug-resistant bacteria

Researchers have known that part of the challenge in treating penicillin-resistant infections lies in understanding the way bacteria inactivate penicillin antibiotics. The enzymes that do this, beta-lactamases, chop up the antibiotics rendering them useless. One particularly problematic group of bacterial beta-lactamases, metallo-beta-lactamases (MBLs), is able to destroy even the newest penicillins. MBLs are often made by bacteria alongside other enzymes, including other beta-lactamases that allow certain bacteria to destroy the entire penicillin arsenal. Now, researchers in Cleveland, Ohio have taken a significant step toward defeating antibiotic-resistant infections by combining two different antibiotics that each block a different kind of drug-destroying enzyme secreted by bacteria. When combined, the antibiotics run interference for each other to fight infections. Now doctors have a new weapon to overcome one of the most pernicious infections caused by deadly bacteria endemic to hospitals.

RNA and longevity: Discovering the mechanisms behind aging

The vigors of youth and the greener pastures of yesteryears. Some might refer to these and other similar clichés as nothing more than rose-tinted literations of the past; a cognitive side effect of life. Romanticizing collective memories aside, however, it would be a challenge to find anyone who could argue against the physical degradations that accompany aging. One needs only to search for 'photos of aging' to realize that such yearnings are perhaps nothing more than ourselves giving form to the personal struggle with the byproducts of life.

Poor sleep in early childhood may lead to cognitive, behavioral problems in later years

A study led by a Massachusetts General Hospital pediatrician finds that children ages 3 to 7 who don't get enough sleep are more likely to have problems with attention, emotional control and peer relationships in mid-childhood. Reported online in the journal Academic Pediatrics, the study found significant differences in the responses of parents and teachers to surveys regarding executive function - which includes attention, working memory, reasoning and problem solving—and behavioral problems in 7-year-old children depending on how much sleep they regularly received at younger ages.

Combination immunotherapy effective for advanced prostate cancer

Advanced prostate cancer resistant to castration therapy appears to respond well to a combination of immune checkpoint blockades and treatments that target certain immune-busting cells commonly associated with poor patient prognosis and therapy resistance.

New research set to improve traditional Chinese cancer treatment

Dried skin secretions from toads could soon be used in a treatment for the benefit of cancer patients.

Medicaid expansion boosts access, reduces cost for poor

States that participated in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act saw increased insurance rates and access to care, less worry about paying medical bills, but also longer wait times among low-income residents, according to new research.

Americans with heart disease and stroke stand to lose under GOP's ACA repeal plan

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the American Health Care Act, the draft legislation released by the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees:

US lawmakers debate Obamacare replacement for more than 24 hours

A US congressional panel surpassed 24 straight hours of debate Thursday on Republican plans to kill Obamacare, highlighting deep divisions over the proposed health reforms.

Sickle cell gene linked to elevated risk of developing kidney failure


Police across Canada raid marijuana stores

Canadian police on Thursday raided nearly a dozen stores selling marijuana in several cities, after arresting a prominent pot activist and his wife.

731 people get gender changes on NYC birth certificates

Health officials have changed the gender listed on 731 birth certificates since January 2015, with applicants ranging in age from 5 to 76 years old, officials said Thursday.

Federal agencies need to prepare for greater quantity, range of biotechnology products

A profusion of biotechnology products is expected over the next five to 10 years, and the number and diversity of new products has the potential to overwhelm the U.S. regulatory system, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other agencies involved in regulating biotechnology products should increase their scientific capabilities, tools, and expertise in key areas of expected growth, said the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.

Biology news

Evidence found of ostriches in India 25,000 years ago

A team of researchers with members from several institutions in India has found evidence of ostrich relatives living in India as far back as 25,000 years ago. In their paper uploaded to the open access site PLOS ONE, the group describes finding avian eggshells, their DNA analysis of them and why they believe the finding bolsters certain aspects of continental drift theory.

Petrol and jet fuel alternatives are produced by yeast cell factories

There have been many attempts to modify this stubborn little enzyme, but none have succeeded. Until now. With new findings from Chalmers University of Technology, the fatty acid synthase (FAS) enzyme has started to produce sustainable chemicals for biofuels. The results were recently published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Dawkins' fabled cooperative gene discovered in microbes

Geneticists from the Universities of Manchester and Bath are celebrating the discovery of the elusive 'greenbeard gene' that helps explain why organisms are more likely to cooperate with some individuals than others

Biology team makes breakthrough in synthetic yeast project

Led by Tianjin University Professor Ying-Jin Yuan, TJU's synthetic biology team has completed the synthesis of redesigned yeast chromosomes synV and synX with the two studies published in Science on March 10, 2017.

Researchers assemble five new fully artificial yeast chromosomes

A global research team has built five new synthetic yeast chromosomes, meaning that 30 percent of a key organism's genetic material has now been swapped out for engineered replacements. This is one of several findings of a package of seven papers published March 10 as the cover story for Science.

How big brains evolved could be revealed by new mathematical model

A new mathematical model could help clarify what drove the evolution of large brains in humans and other animals, according to a study published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Immunotherapy trial cures Tasmanian devils of DFTD

An international study involving multiple institutions over six years has shown that immunotherapy can cure Tasmanian devils of the deadly devil facial tumour disease (DFTD).

Molecules form gels to help cells sense and respond to stress

A specific protein inside cells senses threatening changes in its environment, such as heat or starvation, and triggers an adaptive response to help the cell continue to function and grow under stressful conditions, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Chicago.

The remarkable hunting ability of the robber fly

A small fly the size of a grain of rice could be the Top Gun of the fly world, with a remarkable ability to detect and intercept its prey mid-air, changing direction mid-flight if necessary before sweeping round for the kill.

New species of tick with woylie preference may face extinction

Murdoch University researchers have discovered a new species of Australian tick, but believe it may be facing extinction because of its strong preference for critically endangered woylies.

Newly discovered virus affects sex ratio of insect-killing wasps

Scientists have identified a previously unknown virus that decreases the number of female offspring of the wasps it infects, according to a PLOS Pathogens study. The virus, discovered by Gongyin Ye's group of Zhejiang University, infects one species of a specific group of wasps known as parasitoid wasps.

Researchers identify a new way to promote tissue regeneration

Houston Methodist researchers have identified an immune pathway that promotes the formation of a cell that can develop into new tissues and organs.

Final biomedical trial on captive chimpanzees is first oral Ebola vaccine for saving wild apes

The results from the final biomedical research trial on captive chimpanzees for the foreseeable future have been published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

Scientists effectively disrupt communication between parasites that spread disease

Prof. Shulamit Michaeli, Dean of Bar-Ilan's Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, and member of the Bar-Ilan Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA), has demonstrated how parasite migration can be controlled by creating an unfavorable environment or by damaging cell health, since parasites under stress secrete vesicles that disrupt their socially coordinated movement in groups. This research has just been published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Pathogens.

Transport proteins evolved long before their compounds emerged

Danish scientists from the DynaMo Center, University of Copenhagen, bridge an important gap that changes our understanding of the evolution of plant transport proteins.

Cross-species jumps may play unexpectedly big role in virus evolution

On occasion, a virus may jump from one host species to another and adapt to the new host. Such cross-species transmission happens more often than expected, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, and it may play a much bigger role in virus evolution than previously thought.

Using nature to build nanomachines

Flagella are tiny rotary motors that move bacteria. A research team led by Keiichi Namba, professor at Osaka University has used electron cryomicroscopy to show that a small difference of only several amino acids can have a large impact on flagella function. The study gives new insight on the construction of synthetic nanomachines and can be read in Nature Communications.

Diversity improves problem-solving success: Just ask songbirds

Humans seeking to improve their problem-solving and survival skills can learn a thing or two from an unlikely source—songbirds.

Scientists describe a function for autophagy in germline stem-cell proliferation

Scientists study the germline of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans to identify the mechanisms that control stem cell proliferation and homeostasis, as well as to advance our molecular understanding of homologous signaling pathways humans. Recently, researchers have begun to describe the function of autophagy, a cellular recycling process critical for homeostasis, in germline stem-cell proliferation of C. elegans.

FRED database gathers root traits to advance understanding of below-ground plant ecology

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists have released a new global, centralized database of plant root traits, or identifying characteristics, that can advance our understanding of how the hidden structure of plants belowground may interact with and relate to life aboveground.

The intestine has a reservoir of stem cells that are resistant to chemotherapy

The intestine has a high rate of cellular regeneration due to the wear and tear originated by its function degrading and absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste. The entire cell wall is renewed once a week approximately. This explains why the intestine holds a large number of stem cells in constant division, thereby producing new cell populations of the various types present in this organ.

Convergent con artists: How rove beetles keep evolving into army ant parasites

Marauding across the tropical forest floor, aggressive army ant colonies harbor hidden enemies within their ranks. The impostors look and smell like army ants, march with the ants, and even groom the ants. But far from being altruistic nest-mates, these creatures are parasitic beetles, engaged in a game of deception. Through dramatic changes in body shape, behavior, and pheromone chemistry, the beetles gain their hostile hosts' acceptance, duping the ants so they can feast on the colony brood.

Why guillemot chicks leap from the nest before they can fly

Before they have the wing span to actually permit them to fly, young guillemots (also known as murres) leap hundreds of metres off towering cliffs and flutter down towards the sea, guided by their fathers. Scientists have long wondered why these tiny chicks make this remarkable leap, hoping to avoid the rocks below them, in what seems an unlikely survival strategy for a species.

Bird flu cases revive fear of repeat of major 2015 outbreak

The detection of a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu at a Tennessee chicken farm has Midwest poultry farmers tightening procedures in an attempt to prevent an outbreak like the one in 2015 that required the destruction of millions of birds and cost at least $3 billion.

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